An electric car rental start-up has attracted $200,000 in financial backing with help from the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre (SBDC).
The SBDC, in a release yesterday, said it had assisted Drive Green The Bahamas in obtaining two debt financing offers from local banks in addition to grant and equity funding.
The firm joined the SBDC to obtain access to the government grants it provided. With its assistance, Benjamin Davis, chief executive and founder of Drive Green Rentals, was able to go beyond this and obtain three financing sources for his business.
The soon-to-be University of The Bahamas graduate said: “It’s definitely a proud moment, and I am very excited. The dreams that I have inside of my head, I will love to see them come to fruition with now having access to the funding.
“We can now expand to where we need to be with sorting out charging stations, getting additional cars, an office space and more. That’s the most exciting part of it; being able to turn these dreams into reality.”
Mr Davis said he would encourage any entrepreneur to join the SBDC, adding: “Rome was not built in a day. That may sound cliché, but it’s true. You have to have patience and understand that you’re not going to join on Monday and, seven days [later], you have money in your hand.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned from the SBDC is the strength and the value of having a team. You are now able to work with other persons who are like-minded, able to get other opinions and even be exposed to other entrepreneurs through the programme. They are now persons I call family. So, just being able to have that connection and that networking is extremely beneficial.”
Phyllice Bethel, SBDC advisor to Drive Green Bahamas, said: “As an advisor, I feel encouraged because it is not an easy process for a client to go through. It’s a process where their ideas are scrutinised; not just by me but by other advisors or anybody who attends Pitch Night.
“To see them having to tweak, re-tweak and tweak their ideas some more. Then be rewarded at the end with, first the endorsement of the SBDC and, ultimately, the reward of funding, makes me feel good. I can now use (Drive Green Rentals) as an example to other clients to show that today you may feel like it is a lot of work, but in the end this will be worth it.”
The SBDC is the product of a tripartite arrangement between the government, University of The Bahamas (UB) and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employer’s Confederation (BCCEC). Mr Davis began his business plan in his Entrepreneurship 407 class. When the Ministry of Finance made the SBDC a reality, he was well-placed to take advantage of the opportunity.
K Peter Turnquest, deputy prime minister and minister of finance, said Drive Green Rentals’ early success was evidence that Bahamians can take control of their own economic destinies.
“When you see a gem come along that is interested in self-development and creating opportunities, it makes us all as leaders very proud,” said Mr Turnquest. “It says that all is not lost, A, and B, that we as Bahamians have the opportunity to create our opportunities. To cut a new path and to take more control of our economic circumstances.”
He added that he wants to see electric cars used as the prime means of rental transportation in The Bahamas.
“This is what it is all about,” said Mr Turnquest. “I want to see him at every airport throughout this country and [electric cars] being the predominant rental vehicles in this country. When we first started the SBDC one of the things I said I wanted to do was to create millionaires, and [Mr Davis] is well on the way.”
Davinia Blair, the SBDC’s executive director, said Drive Green Rentals’ success reflected the hard work of her staff.
“This achievement is a testament to the hard work invested by both members and clients of the SBDC,” she said. “The best news is that this is just the beginning. We have businesses who have already been approved for equity investments of $130,000 and grant funding of $46,800.
“Several other clients are on the path to officially receiving loans. Successes like Benjamin’s further motivates us to continue to do our part in growing, strengthening and enhancing micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).”