The Office of the Prime Minister Grand Bahama has hosted four cohorts of the Micro & Small Business Grant Program. Applicants interested in starting a business, or growing an existing business participated in a 2-week long Business Readiness Training Course, wherein they gained insightful business management tips like Bookkeeping, Customer Service and Marketing. Upon completion of training, program participants were invited to pitch their businesses to a panel of business-savvy experts for the chance to be awarded up to $5,000 for their business. To date, approximately 300 persons have participated in the program and over 100 Grand Bahamians were awarded grant funding of up to $5K - both new and existing businesses. A total of $484,000 has been injected into small businesses through the Micro & Small Business Program (55 start-ups and 57 new businesses).
Those awarded grant funding were assigned business mentors. These mentors, many of which are members of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce liaised with the grant winners for a period of time to provide guidance and help to ensure long-term success of the businesses.
Several innovative businesses have been started as a result of this program and have served the Grand Bahama community well. These businesses spanned several industries including food production and service, straw and craft, transportation, videography and production, education, beauty and grooming.
Grand Bahama’s Small Business Development Center ( a.k.a. The Access Accelerator Program) was launched under the Ministry of Finance in January 2019. The SBDC was established as the center-stone of the Government’s campaign to stimulate Bahamian ownership, to invest in entrepreneurs and to provide micro, small and medium sized businesses the incentives and assistance needed to survive and thrive within The Bahamas.
SBDC aims to increase the ability of the business sector to provide employment, diversify wealth and drive the development of a robust and resilient economy. Currently, it provides services in startup training (mandatory for all startups) and advisory services for existing businesses. The SBDC is designed to consider the full range of needs that entrepreneurs have: training, financing and mentorship. Through the SBDC, Bahamian entrepreneurs will have access to: Government Guaranteed Loans; Business Grants; and Equity Financing.
The SBDC is managed by a local director, along with a senior analyst, two advisors/ trainers, one administrative assistant, one contracted CPA and a volunteer. The SBDC held Town Meetings in East and West Grand Bahama and Bimini to announce its launch and educate the public on how they can potentially benefit.
The government, in its ongoing effort to rebuild the economy and to assist local existing small businesses which were damaged by the storm, launched the MSME Business Disaster Recovery Program through the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC). Additionally, there are numerous businesses currently receiving assistance in order to complete their funding process with either free business plan consultations and free assistance with financial statements and other processes. In the future, SBDC is working toward accessing financial capital for all of their clients.
December 2, 2019, the Office of the Prime Minister Grand Bahama, in partnership with the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) hosted an exclusive free one day technology and business enhancement workshop aimed to help affected businesses rebuild SMART using technology as part of the continued restoration efforts post Hurricane Dorian. The use of technology not only will eliminate the loss of documentation in the event of disasters but can serve as a backup for businesses to save data and create an ease of doing business.Through this initiative, OPM Grand Bahama in collaboration with the SBDC has awarded 12 tech grants to successful applicants at a sum of $2,500 each, for a total of $30,000. These funds have been used to assist businesses with Website Development and enhancing computer hardware and software.
Through the Duty Free Concessions Program for East and West Grand Bahama, OPM Grand Bahama continues to empower entrepreneurs in these areas. The intent is to ease the operational expenses of these business owners by allowing machinery and supplies to be imported duty-free, thus providing start-up and existing business owners in East and West GB the opportunity to benefit from concessions similar to those provided under the Hawksbill Creek Agreement to businesses in Freeport.
To date over 100 businesses have been impacted. During the period July 2018 - June 2019 alone, a total of $1,270,972 in concessions has been granted. This included concessions to 21 brand new licensees as well as major duty-free imports for large projects.