The government on Wednesday opened a branch office of the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) at the Edmund Moxey Youth and Community Center for residents of Over-the-Hill.
The purpose of the branch is to promote economic development and expansion for more Bahamians; to develop more Bahamian small businesses and entrepreneurs; and to develop the youth in the Over-the-Hill community.
Additionally, the initiative will provide access to grants up to $2,500 for those who qualify.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said that the initiative has so far received $700,000 in donations from various individuals and organizations.
“…Albany generously donated a prior gift of $300,000 for the redevelopment,” he said during his address at the launch of the SBDC office branch, referring to a previous donation by the developers of the luxury community.
“Earlier today, Albany gave a second gift of $300,000.
“On behalf of the Government of The Bahamas, I thank Albany for its generosity and corporate citizenship.
“I also wish to thank businessman Mark Holowesko for his donation this morning of $100,000 to SBDC for small businesses Over-the-Hill.
“These funds will be earmarked for small business grants.
“Mark also donated an additional $100,000 for Over-the-Hill Foundation for broader work in the area.”
Minnis added that the new branch will provide enhanced, hands-on training with access to computers and basic computer training through collaboration with existing programs.
Dr. Niambi Hall Campbell-Dean said her husband has a conch salad business located in the Over-the-Hill community and they hope to take advantage of the initiative.
“…It has been set up almost a year now and so we’re really interested in developing the business more,” Campbell-Dean said.
“…We really want to try and expand it so that [people] within the community feel a part of [the business].”
She added that a major issue is the stigma of the community being an unsafe area for operating a business.
Asked how she would use the funds if granted, Campbell-Dean said the funds aren’t her primary focus, rather, she most looks forward to accessing other resources available.
“I would like to access funds with the Small Business Development Centre, that’s why I was here, to try and get an idea of what the program is,” she said.
“So, to say how I would use the funds right now, I couldn’t really say.
“But there are so many things other than funds that the center provides in terms of resources, access to information, access to classes, programs, [people who] can help you with your accounting.
“So, there are a lot of resources that I hope to access, as well as funds.”
Wayne Nottage of Fort Fincastle said he has a food business that is almost ready to get going.
“…With this [initiative] they’re bringing up, [it] will be a good help to push me further,” he said.
“…This will help us good because it’ll keep people focused by doing something for themselves and leave other people’s things alone.
“We hope everything goes great so everybody can smile and we can go on with our goods.
“It’s nice, I came out to see what’s going on so I must be excited a bit.
“We give God thanks for all things and each and everyone should know what’s going on so they can try and get [themselves] set up, rather than watching other people’s stuff.”
Kareem Hanchell has owned two businesses since 2012 and said he wishes to collaborate with SBDC.
“I believe we have the same focus and the same vision,” Hanchell said.
“We’re both in the business development industry which is to assist entrepreneurs and existing businesses to one, position themselves through advisory services and consultations to determine exactly what their business needs, and to provide them [with] strategic plans and strategic action steps in order to achieve those goals.”
He added that his business also specializes in business planning.
“If your business cannot see success on paper, it cannot see success in reality,” Hanchell said.
Additionally, he said he has worked with the government in the past, surveying businesses in order to document the major challenges faced by small businesses around the archipelago.