Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) representatives met last week with members of the Women Investment Group (WIG) for a post-International Women’s Day panel discussion.
The event, held in collaboration with the US Embassy and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), centred on a panel discussion featuring Davinia Blair, the SBDC’s executive director; Melissa Darville, co-owner of Shiver; Tyrina Neely, advisor on the SBDC’s board of directors; and Tamarind Isaacs, entrepreneur and advisor for the SBDC.
Moderated by Anastarcia Palacious, the SBDC’s associate director of advancement, the group shared experiences about being women entrepreneurs in micro, small and medium-sized businesses, and how the SBDC is helping to transform entrepreneurship in The Bahamas.
Turning to the SBDC’s progress, Ms Blair said it was essential to measure this through milestones, whether they be from the client, the centre or the advisors.
“The advisors, myself and some of the admin team, are in a chat group, and on a daily basis we will have an advisor say: ‘My client just received a better deal on his lease, my client just got exclusive rights for a sale’ or some other milestone, and everyone is ecstatic,” she added.
Ms Blair also pointed to the SBDC’s increased reach beyond New Providence with training sessions now happening on Eleuthera, Long Island, Abaco, Exuma and Grand Bahama.
“For us the fact that we have a constant stream of persons on the Family Islands getting just as much attention as those on the capital, we are excited about that,” she added.
Ms Darville, whose frozen dessert company was one of the first to reach the grant funding stage of the SBDC process, said: “We also feel a lot of pressure because we understand that being one of the first companies going through (the process), it is imperative that we are successful because that will pave the way for all of the other entrepreneurs coming behind us.
“Everyone else can see that this process is working because it has worked for us. Once we got into the doors (of the SBDC) and started working with Mr Rolle (Winston Rolle, advisor) and Davinia, they were able to show us where our weaknesses were. We thought we had a great business plan, but our financials were not up to par, and we didn’t know that until we came into the centre and got the help we didn’t even know we needed.”
With the SBDC’s assistance, Ms Darville and her business partner, Mr Percentie, were able to improve their business plan and enhance their business overall. “Sometimes you think you are doing your best because that’s all you know how to do,” she added.
“We didn’t come from financial backgrounds. (My partner) is an engineer, and I was a teacher, so we didn’t know what we didn’t know. They were able to show us: ‘This is missing from here’, ‘you need to work on this’, ‘do you keep every receipt?’. That showed us where our weaknesses were, and we were open to it because we knew from this we would grow.”
Before the panel presentation, IDB representatives detailed funding opportunities available to entrepreneurs, and provided information on where relevant research data about The Bahamas might be found for those seeking to expand their businesses.