A number of businesses were recipients of grants from the Small Business Development Centre and the Office of the Prime Minister on Friday, at the Office of the Prime Minister, Grand Bahama. The businesses were either existing, looking to expand, or start-up and would be located anywhere from East Grand Bahama, to Freeport, to West Grand Bahama.
The recipients were: Sunny Side Food Truck, owned by Jaimmee Gaskins, specializing in baked goods; EJ’s Café in McLean’s Town; Peaches and Cream Boutique, owned by Sally Forbes, a clothing boutique; Junkanoo Shoe Company, owned by Tamika Knowles, a local shoe manufacturer; Bahamas Disposal Waste Treatment and Supplies, owned by Mervin Dean, specializing in hazardous water removal; Yellow Tail BioFuel, owned by Phillip Kemp specializing in renewable fuel sources; Utopia Nature Gardens, owned by Chaka Woodside, featuring organic produce; Voluptuous Beauties, owned by Beneta Pinder, a women’s clothing and accessory store; New Era Productions, owned by Quninton Gordon, a multimedia production firm; New Horizon Travel, owned by Hortense Russell, a travel agency; and Lost At Sea Jewelry, owned by Sherrill Bethel, specializing in sea glass jewelry.
Three of the businesses were recipients of grants and loans from the Small Business Development Centre, while the others received grants from the Office of the Prime Minister.
Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson took the opportunity to announce the Small Business Technology Upgrade Initiative. He noted in the downtown area where a number of businesses were flooded, people’s paper records were destroyed.
“We are now moving into the age of technology and we are making that push for Grand Bahama to be the Technology Hub of The Bahamas and this region; one of the things we think about is if we are truly going to call ourselves a technology hub, then existing businesses must have the capability of using the latest technology. This is one of those things where your need meets your opportunity and the hurricane provided the opportunity and made the need far more relevant.”
As a result of Dorian, said the Minister, businesses can now rebuild using the latest technology.
The Small Business Technology Upgrade Initiative “is designed specifically to create new opportunities for small businesses to access grant funding (up to $2,500) ear-marked for the introduction and/or upgrade of technology-based infrastructure within their enterprises.” Infrastructure includes data/cyber security; cloud computing and storage; website design/implementation and enhancement; hardware/software (i.e. point of sale systems etc.); mobile applications; collaboration/remote workforce systems; marketing services (social media advertising etc.); productivity/financial management systems; and customer relationship management (CRM).
Davinia Grant, Executive Director of Small Business Development Center (SBDC), said she was excited to be at the presentation because it proves that what they are doing works; and supporting small businesses, strengthens the economy. There are currently 200 applications from Grand Bahama. Despite the passage of the recent hurricane only two months ago, people have shown they still want to pursue their dreams and what they envisioned. “That’s what resilience is. Despite all the opposition, you decide to push with your vision.” To date, approximately $185,000 in SBDC grants and small loans have been approved.
Mrs. Grant offered advice: “If you’re looking to rebuild your business, one of the major things that impedes a small business from being able to access credit or equity investments is the lack of records.” She said that very few small businesses have proper financial records, and this is making it difficult for them. SBDC has systems in place to assist small businesses in this area.