Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest said one of the best parts of his job is having the ability to direct resources to aspiring Bahamian entrepreneurs to help them fulfil their creative dreams. “So today is a special day. We are signing a technical cooperation agreement that will unlock $1.3 million in resources from the Inter-American Development Bank system to expand the work and reach of the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC),” DPM Turnquest explained during the assignment ceremony at the IDB’s Bahamas Office, Wednesday, January 22, 2020.
He added, “On behalf of the government I am pleased to say that the ‘Accelerate Bahamas’ Project is another fulfilment of our promise to stimulate the entrepreneurial ecosystem in The Bahamas, and support the development, growth and dynamism of Bahamian micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs). “Personally, it is an absolute privilege to be in this position, as I have always had a fondness for entrepreneurs. Their passion, enthusiasm and dogged determination is inspiring and infectious.”
The DPM noted that to the broader economic impact, however, it has been well documented and demonstrated that small business is the engine of the economy and backbone of the private sector. In The Bahamas, there are close to 23,000 business licenses issued and it is estimated that MSMEs consist of 98 per cent of them. They hire 47 per cent of all employees, while contributing between 20 percent to 30 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. The DPM stated that foreign direct investment alone cannot power a sustainable economy. “Sustained economic growth must be driven by Bahamian investment and creativity in tandem with strategic foreign direct investment. This goes to the heart of why the Minnis administration has been so adamant about stimulating Bahamian ownership. MSMEs create jobs, they build wealth and they grow the economy.”
He explained that the SBDC sits at the centre of the government’s investment plan for entrepreneurs. Our investment in the Access Accelerator represents the largest single allocation of investment funds for Bahamian entrepreneurs that has ever been made by the Government of The Bahamas. DPM Turnquest noted that prior to the streamlining of efforts through the SBDC, the entrepreneurial ecosystem in The Bahamas for supporting the development of MSMEs and start-ups was fragmented. There was insufficient access to training programs and business advisory services and, even more, insufficient access to capital.
“I am proud to say that the directors, management and staff of the SBDC have been tremendous stewards of their public charge. Their impact is being felt by hundreds and hundreds of Bahamians who have benefited from training, mentorship and other forms of ongoing business support, including, most importantly, access to badly needed capital.” Signing the contracts for the agreements were the IDB Country Representative, Daniela Carrera Marquis and Executive Director, SBDC, Davinia Grant.