A new Bahamian business will answer the call for environmentally friendly paper straws, after an almost $200,000 capital injection from the Bahamas Development Bank through the Access Accelerator Small/Business Development Centre (SBDC).
The company, called STRAWD, will manufacture and sell eco-friendly paper straws to local and nearby markets, according to a press statement from the SBDC.
“It will be a part of the local and global initiative to eradicate single-use plastics and its impact on the environment,” the SBDC stated.
STRAWD owner Tony Miller said the business was inspired by the government’s crackdown on single-use plastics in The Bahamas and the need to decrease imports and increase local manufacturing.
“Our goal is to become pioneers in eco-friendly and sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics,” said Miller.
“We saw an opportunity to fill a timely need. We wanted to be a part of the generation of entrepreneurs that are moving away from importing, by finding simple but widely used items that can be manufactured here in The Bahamas.”
Miller said it was amazing to overcome the funding barrier for the startup with the help of the SBDC.
“A weight has been lifted and we can positively contribute to building the Bahamian economy, provide for our families and the families of the staff we will soon employ,” he said.
“What is more exciting is that we get to do this while simultaneously positively impacting the environment. This funding will help us on so many levels. We can now source the machines needed and raw materials required for production. We now have the capital required to bring our business to life.”
Like many local entrepreneurs, Miller said access to funding was the most difficult part of bringing his idea to life before intervention by the SBDC.
“It was a challenge obtaining financing on our own and hard to find someone who believed in us and our vision of STRAWD,” Miller said.
“We realized that we needed to partner with an organization such as Access Accelerator who could support us with business advisory services, mentorship, advocacy and access to capital.
“Our experience of trying to access capital was frustrating and discouraging. We approached numerous banks, but the response was always disappointing as they typically requested collateral well above what we were able to provide, typically 100 percent or more. We were considered too risky of a venture and subsequently denied the funding we so desperately needed.”
Miller said the road to funding took patience, perseverance, persistence and dedication. He thanked SBDC Trainer Sherrell Storr and SBDC Advisor Jermaine Hepburn for STRAWD’s successful move to funding.
“He motivated us when we got discouraged, provided much-needed guidance and was the listening ear when we needed to vent our frustrations,” said Miller.
“We also could not have accomplished this milestone without the assistance we received from the team at Executive Business Solutions Ltd.”