For two days during the month of June, the Entrepreneurial Planning and Development Department of the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation conducted a two-day workshop on Business Plan Writing. The business plan workshop was attended by seasoned business plan writers, beginners, senior supervisors, clerical staff at BAIC Headquarters in New Providence and at Satellite offices in Exuma, Eleuthera, Abaco and Grand Bahama. Staff were lectured by presenters from the Bahamas Development Bank, the Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund and the Small Business Development Center on the intricacies of business planning; what each entity requires and how
to assist clients of BAIC in preparing detailed and bankable business plans as they attempt to access funding for various projects.
During the opening ceremony for the workshop, Senior Deputy General Manager at BAIC Ms. Debbie Strachan encouraged the staff members to take full advantage of the training which was arranged for their benefit. She also touched on the relationship which is being developed between BAIC and the Small Business Development Center, which seeks to empower Bahamians to further expand the economy. She highlighted the important role business plan writers play in making
the dreams and visions of many become a reality. Mr. Lester Stuart, Senior Manager of the Entrepreneurial Planning Development Department at BAIC was the facilitator for the two-day Business Plan Writing workshop. Mr. Stuart said the workshop was “a capacity building initiative to alert business plan writers to the intricacies of business plan writing and to find out about changes or improvements in requirements by lending agencies.” Mr. Stuart also conducted entrepreneurial exercises and group discussions and analysis of
the business plan environment.
Workshop participants were told by Senior Advisor at the Small Business Development Center, Mr. Winston Rolle that the Business Plan tells the story of how the business owner intends to achieve its overall objective. He said “the business plan is the road map for the business and those who are tasked with helping the client with their plan must ensure that the plan is attractive.” Giving an over view of the Small Business Development Center, Mr. Rolle said since September of last year, some 4,000 Bahamians have made inquiries on line seeking assistance in starting a business. The SBDC provides advice, coaching,
mentoring and training in small business principles. Applicants who are accepted, attend classes for 12 hours over a two-week period. Once the training is completed satisfactorily, the applicants are transitioned to the next phase. Mr. Rolle challenged the business plan writers at BAIC to extract as much data as possible from their clients in order to make the business plans as detailed as possible.
Also making a presentation at the workshop was Ms. Vernita Campbell,
Administrator of the Venture Fund. Ms. Campbell said that one of the major requirements of the Venture Fund is that all businesses seeking funds, whether new or existing, must be incorporated. Ms. Campbell also noted that a lot of people in presenting their business plans do
not invest enough capital in market research and marketing strategy. “They do not determine how far they wish to take their business,“ she said, emphasizing that “marketing is critical.” The Venture Fund also insists that a balance sheet must be presented as a part of the business plan. For successful applicants, the Venture Fund invests up to forty percent of funding requirements with an interest rate of 6.25% over a five-year period.
Mr. Ian Rutherford, Credit Manager at the Bahamas Development Bank, stressed the importance of security, equity and cash flow along with supporting data as key components in a business plan. He urged workshop participants to ensure that their clients provide as much information about themselves and the business venture in order for them to compile a detailed business plan. Mr. Rutherford told the workshop participants that when they are helping clients prepare their
documents to present to a lending agency, everything about the business must be revealed, adding that every business plan has to be strong in terms of cash flow. At the end of the two-day workshop, business plan writers were required to craft and present an Executive Summary of a Business plan.