The Access Accelerator, Small Business Development Center (SBDC) held its first graduation for the program’s Over-The-Hill component. At the ceremony, 18 graduates received certificates of completion and grant checks for investment into their businesses totaling $45,000.
Jeff Andrews, chairman of the SBDC, highlighted the progress of the SBDC and the Over-The-Hill program.
“The Access Accelerator will turn one in September, and already 18 clients have received a total of $1.2 million in grants and equity investments,” said Andrews. “As a result of this, we think that these clients will have an economic impact of over $2.4 million. There is currently another million dollars in the pipeline for nine more Access Accelerator champion businesses. We expect those to be realized by the end of September.”
Andrews continued, “Today we are distributing $45,000 directly into the Over-The-Hill communities. The $45,000 is only the beginning thanks to the very generous donation from Mark Holowesko. We are committed to ensuring that even more residents of Over-The-Hill benefit. Registration for our second cohort has already begun.”
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis gave the keynote address to the first graduating class of the SBDC’s Over-The-Hill initiative.
“Over the years, free people of color from areas like Bain and Grants Town created an impressive network of enterprises and businesses as they overcame centuries of discrimination. As I have said, talent is equally distributed in a society, but opportunity is not,” said Minnis.
“Once afforded opportunity and access to things like capital, mentoring and training, individuals with ideas and talents who are determined to work hard can soar to new heights and a better future. I know this is true, and I speak from personal experience. Just like the graduates, I was able to realize my dreams because others believed in me and gave me a chance, just like you have been given a chance.”
Taking the time to highlight the graduates’ spirit of togetherness and passion, Dr. Minnis celebrated Ranesha Dean. Dean typed business plans for her classmates that didn’t have access to computers. Thanking her for her generosity, he said, “you are a wonderful and outstanding person and a model for other Bahamians. You have demonstrated team ship, and we need more of that in our society.”
Elkym Bowe, who took the principles taught in classes and put them into action, sold out of products before the course ended. Minnis said, “This is the kind of hardworking and dynamic attitude that we should celebrate. He is an example of what can be done to take advantage of the redevelopment and expansion of the port of Nassau and Nassau Harbor.”
Dr. Minnis continued, “Small businesses with relevant products and services should take advantage of the redevelopment of Downtown Nassau, Prince George Wharf, the Western Esplanade, Arawak Cay and Junkanoo Beach.”
The prime minister also reminded students that the real hard work begins now.
“Dear graduates, thank you for your hard work and endurance. You will have good and difficult days but keep striving and do not give up. The truly hard work is just beginning. You will need to work tirelessly to sustain your businesses and to provide quality services and products,” said Dr. Minnis.
The SBDC is the product of a tripartite arrangement between the government, through the Ministry of Finance; the University of The Bahamas (UB) and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC). The center works to guide the development, funding, growth, and evolution of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in The Bahamas.