A team from the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre (Access Accelerator) toured Eleuthera recently, having already toured Exuma and Grand Bahama as part of a sustained effort to ensure that Family Island entrepreneurs are afforded the access and opportunities the agency provides.
The team included Access Accelerator managers and executive team members, and the tour enabled them to check in on clients, evaluate the business climate on the islands and connect with organizations that support business communities to create or reinforce partnerships that will provide additional support and opportunities for business success.
The Access Accelerator’s headquarters is on New Providence with office outlets on Grand Bahama, Abaco, Eleuthera, Long Island, and Andros. However, to ensure that clients, team members and partners on the Family Islands feel the full support of the organization, the island visits were conceived and are being executed.
Most of the Access Accelerator tours consist mainly of two important elements: client visits and courtesy calls on local government, partners and potential partners. In some cases, the organization also participates in local community events such as town halls hosted by local officials and informational events hosted by the organization.
Nicholas Higgs, Chief Operations Officer and Director at the Access Accelerator described the tours as the human connection between the Access Accelerator and its clients throughout the country.
Higgs said, “Our executive director, Davinia Bain, saw that while we were working hard in Nassau to get clients the assistance that they needed there was a gap in the human aspect of the organization that many on New Providence were receiving. The organization began the tours right before the COVID-19 pandemic which caused traveling to stop throughout the country. As we converted to a fully digital way of operating, it further pushed the need to solidify the human connection between the organization and the clients residing on the Family Islands.”
He continued, “It is important to us for our clients to understand and appreciate that there are real people assisting them with their dreams. We are as invested in the success of these businesses just as as the clients are. Through our visits, clients not only get to meet the people advocating for them but also the heads of departments, so there is no question of whether the issue a client is experiencing is being properly explained to those in charge because they get to communicate with those in charge directly. The managers also get a better understanding of that island’s culture as the way Bahamians operate is a little different on each island, so it is important to have an appreciation for that when we consider ways to help. The clients also enjoy the ability to show and have us experience their products and services in real-time.”
The Eleuthera visit featured the unique Eleuthera Business Hub, a co-working space for businesses in South Eleuthera created through a partnership with Disney, the Eleuthera Chamber of Commerce, the Access Accelerator and other like-minded private entities. The Eleuthera Business Hub was the location for a networking event held by the organization for partners and clients and will be the location for the Access Accelerator’s office headed by Anya Ferguson.
During the visit, the Access Accelerator was able to participate in the town hall for constituents hosted by the Member of Parliament for Central and South Eleuthera and Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs, The Honorable Clay Sweeting. Higgs spoke about how the organization can assist local entrepreneurs and answered questions from those present and attending virtually.
The trip included tours of the One Eleuthera Foundation campus and farm and courtesy calls on the Eleuthera Chamber of Commerce and Local Council which took place at the Eleuthera Business Hub.
While visiting the One Eleuthera Foundation, the delegation learned about the training courses provided by the foundation, received an up-close look at how the foundation is being innovative with technology in the area of farming and discussed ways the two entities can partner, especially in the area of training.
The Access Accelerator team also visited clients such as Food Post, who specialises in growing herbs and chickens through a closed circuit farming method; Uncle Tommy’s Bakery, providing homemade baked goods such as bread, cakes and cookies; Sentry Shield Security and Locksmith, the only locksmith business on the island run by the only woman locksmith on the island. The Access Accelerator team was able to see equipment and items purchased through funding from the organization while assessing the current and future needs of the clients.
Richard Johnson of Food Post showed off the farm’s chickens and the expansion of their living and feeding area due to funding from the Fishing and Farming Grant. Thomas Albury, owner of Uncle Tommy’s Bakery explained how the industrial oven purchased through the Standalone Grant now allows him to bake double the baked goods compared to what he was capable of baking in his smaller oven. Michaela Graham-Wells of Sentry Shield Security and Locksmith Co. gave the team a tour of the space she was able to furnish and make into the store for her business with financial assistance from the Access Accelerator flagship programme.
The Access Accelerator’s Island Tour will visit the islands of Abaco and Long Island next.
Uncle Tommy’s – Thomas Albury outside of his bakery in North Eleuthera
Eleuthera Chamber – Kenron Braynen – head of pre-funding department, Access Accelerator; Samantha Rolle – dir. of external relations, Access Accelerator; Thomas Sands – chairman, Eleuthera Chamber of Commerce; Lorne Basden – chairman of the board of directors, Access Accelerator; Nicholas Higgs – chief operations officer and director, Access Accelerator; Peter Mitchell – executive director, Eleuthera Chamber of Commerce; Een Colebrooke – deputy chairman of the board of directors, Access Accelerator; Ria Butler – dir. of business operations, Access Accelerator; Tehranique Darrell – family islands manager, Access Accelerator; Phyllice Bethel – head of advisory services, Access Accelerator
Steppin Out – Erica Hanna holding a pair of custom-designed shoes at her store Steppin Out located on Grand Bahama