D.P.M and Min. of Finance the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest said in just one year, he has no doubt that the Access Accelerator has had the single greatest impact on advancing the development of micro and small businesses in The Bahamas than any institution before in such a short period. “Not only because of the direct investments made through government- sponsored grants, loans, and equity financing, but more importantly because the Access Accelerator has strengthened the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem.
It has created a structure to support a culture of entrepreneurial risk taking,” DPM Turnquest stated during a press conference discussing the impact of the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) in the past year and plans for the budgeted $55 million for small businesses in the next 12 months, Tuesday, October 6, 2020. He explained that everyday Bahamians can now find training, business advisory and financing available and accessible regardless of who they are, where they live or what their politics might be.
“The program transcends partisan politics and social class. Indeed, the apolitical nature of the Access Accelerator is no doubt largely responsible for some of its success.”
The DPM stated that at a time when the country is faced with the devastating impact of two exogenous shocks – the catastrophic Hurricane Dorian and the crippling coronavirus pandemic – the Government has been able to mobilize the SBDC to step in and support small business continuity and therefore the overall health of the domestic economy.
“And as we lay the foundation for an accelerated recovery, the Government is also working with the Access Accelerator to deepen its reach even further.” He noted that at the time of the launch last year, the Government allocated $25 million to the Access Accelerator for a five-your program. That amount grew significantly with the involvement of the private sector stakeholders bringing their own capital resources and joining the cause as partners.
He said for this new fiscal year, this Administration took the unprecedented step of allocating some $55 million to the Access Accelerator for disbursement to entrepreneurs under a range of new innovative programs. “Strengthening the domestic economy is a core pillar of our Resilient Bahamas fiscal and economic plan so that a better quality of life is made possible for all Bahamians through the dignity of work.” DPM Turnquest said, “As a government, we know that small businesses are the backbone of the Bahamian economy. We are not alone in this view. Small businesses are also the lifeblood of the US economy: they create two-thirds of net new jobs, drive US innovation and competitiveness, and account for 44 per cent of US economic activity.”
He added that small businesses account for 35 per cent of all value generated in Australia and a fifth of that nation’s gross domestic product. In fact, the World Trade Organization reports that small businesses represent over 90 per cent of the business population, 60-70 per cent of employment and 55 per cent of Gross Domestic Product in developed economies. The DPM noted that the surest bet that the government has made is on the entrepreneurial spirit of the Bahamian people. “We did this in times of stability
and continue to do so in times of uncertainty. Regardless of moment, betting on Bahamians is sure way to create jobs, build wealth, and develop a robust and resilient Bahamian economy.”
He said in the coming year, the Access Accelerator intends to focus on funding and business development support in the following industries:
Fisheries and farming – with particular attention on value-added processing
Bahamian-owned vacation home rentals and small scale tourism projects
Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
Alternative Energy and energy efficiency
The Orange Economy or creative and cultural ventures, and
The DPM explained that these investments will capture entrepreneurs operating in non-traditional sectors who often have difficulty accessing entrepreneurial support. He said, “This is most needed currently, for the task to recover from the ongoing crisis depends on the creativity, determination, and grit of the small business community. The entrepreneurs who come out of the Access Accelerator will not doubt help to diversify the economy as more persons get involved and explore non-traditional businesses.”