Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis officially opened a branch of the Small Business Development Centre at the Edmund Moxey Youth and Community Centre, specifically for residents in the area to access funding for economic empowerment. He deemed opening the branch as part of his government’s ambitious and broader Over-the-Hill Revitalization Programme. Also, the SBDC is an intrinsic part of the six pillars of the Over-the-Hill Community Development Partnership Initiative which are: Social Empowerment, Economic Empowerment, Rejuvenation, Smart Technology, Green Technology, and Youth and Elderly Empowerment.
The opening of this branch of the SBDC took place Wednesday, May 8, 2019, just hours after the injection of private sector funding in the amount of $100,000 by businessman Mark Holowesko. Before a packed community centre, the Prime Minister outlined to residents several goals of the SBDC, which they can take advantage of. These goals include economic development and expansion for more Bahamians, the development of more small businesses and empowering entrepreneurs, and youth and community development Over-the-Hill. “These goals share a single idea and objective, which is: One Bahamas for all Bahamians,” said the Prime Minister.
This SBDC branch at the Edmund Moxey Youth and Community Centre represents a dedicated location in the Over-the-Hill area as it is easily accessible and within walking distance for the residents. “This new branch will provide enhanced, hands-on training with access to computers, and basic computer training through collaboration with existing programs,” the Prime Minister said. Beginning May 14, classes will be held at the community centre on Tuesdays and Thursdays for 8 weeks between the hours of 6pm – 8pm. Topics will include community tourism; sessions on taking advantage of concessions and financial management; and through a partnership with the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute — trade and entrepreneurship will be combined. The SBDC is also the product of a three-part arrangement between the Government (through the Ministry of Finance), the University of The Bahamas (UB) and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC).
“I am very pleased that we are able to partner with various businesses and companies in our program for social and economic renewal and development,” the Prime Minister said. He then informed that towards this end, the first phase of the redevelopment of Southern Recreation Grounds is nearly complete, thanks to $600,0000 which was donated by Albany Bahamas. “I am advised that the redeveloped grounds will be one of the sites on a proposed heritage tour for tourists,” he added.
Out of the SBDC is the Access Accelerator initiative, which has four goals in mind:
1. To improve the environment that enables small business to flourish;
2. To increase direct financing to micro, small and medium enterprises;
3. To create and promote innovative programmes to support MSMEs; and,
4. To foster a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, with a particular focus on marginalized groups.
In the past seven months, the SBDC has trained nearly 500 people through its two-weeks of classes; provided almost 300 substantial hours with its one-on-one business advisory services and registered over 3,500 people throughout The Bahamas. Fifty percent of those registered are in New Providence.“ It is anticipated that with the launch of this branch of the SBDC here this evening, this number will significantly increase for New Providence.
“The vision of the Over-the-Hill initiative is to see communities most of us originally hailed from, [become] thriving, prospering, and revitalized,” the Prime Minister said.
He concluded: “Our mission and my mission is to offer tangible hope and opportunity. Jobs and growth remain the government’s primary focus.
“More Bahamians must feel the economic recovery in their pocketbooks and bank accounts.”