Central Andros Shipping (CAS), is a marine transportation and shipping company that was approved for $735,000 from Fidelity Bank (Fidelity) and the Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund (BEVF) through the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre (Access Accelerator).
CAS is now the recipient of the largest approved funding through the organization. Nicholas Higgs, director and chief operations officer at the Access Accelerator, gave credit to Valentino Munroe, owner of Central Andros Shipping for being dedicated to the process.
Higgs said, “Having a client approved for funding is always exciting for us at the Access Accelerator. We understand the difficulty in accessing capital for Bahamian small businesses so, an approval for funding proves that the Access Accelerator is working to bridge the gap and provide real results for small businesses.”
He continued, “Valentino has put in a lot of work and remained committed to the process. That dedication and willingness to work are ultimately how we are here at the funding stage. We simply provided the support he needed and we are very proud of Central Andros Shipping.”
CAS, located on Andros, will begin providing mail boat and cargo shipment services between Nassau and Andros and Florida and Andros by the end of 2021. Munroe has faced many delays since starting his business in 2017. However, leaning on passion and lessons taught to him from a child, the Andros native now has the necessary capital to officially operate.
Munroe was born in the community of Staniard Creek, Andros, where he attended Staniard Creek Primary School and Central Andros High School, finishing his secondary education at Queen’s College on New Providence. It was on Andros that a love for learning and business was instilled in him by his family. Carrying on a legacy near to his heart Munroe is excited to build an entity that lasts for future generations.
“We started Central Andros Shipping in 2017. My father, the late Captain Prince Munroe, provided mail boat services to the island of Andros for more than 40 years. He and his uncle built their first vessel in the early ’60s. Unfortunately, he lost his vessel several years ago due to an unfortunate incident. When he passed away in late 2020, my family and I committed to honouring his legacy. I am pleased to have the opportunity to build on the foundation that he and my mom, the late Branhilda Munore, have laid. I hope to be a great example on building and expanding family business legacies that last for generations”, Munroe said.
He continued, “My mother instilled in me early a love for learning. So, I pursued my education because it always made my mom smile when I did well. I had the privilege to work with my dad for many years too. Working with my father is where I learned the mail boat business and how to serve people. He believed in the importance of treating people with respect. I’m a systems engineer by profession, but my first professional training is in maritime shipping. The discipline required during this experience taught me leadership and how to overcome challenges; principles that still guide me today.”
Now a funded client of the Access Accelerator, Munroe can finally bring the vision for CAS to fruition.
Munroe said, “Our vision is to transform shipping in The Bahamas using our knowledge of technology to develop logistical customer-centric systems to reduce cost and improve efficiency. CAS is in the market to purchase a 180ft vessel. The funding will primarily be used for that purpose and to develop our shipping infrastructure so that we can service our routes effectively. I look forward to having the opportunity once again to serve the Andros community, from North to South building on the legacy of service that was the foundation of my dad’s success over the many years. Andros is home and we are ready to help support Androsian families and expand Andros’ economy.”
Grateful for the assistance from the Access Accelerator, Munroe shared that the organization directed his focus and supported him through the process.
“The Access Accelerator has been a tremendous help. The training offered as part of the application process is useful in helping to direct your focus on critical business issues that sometimes maybe overlook in our pursuits,” Munroe said. “The staff are courteous and passionate about your success. The team really goes overboard to ensure that you advance through the process as an applicant. The Access Accelerator team really becomes a part of your team and provides you with the support to complete the process successfully. Honestly, with their support, and your commitment as an applicant, you cannot not be approved for funding. The process may take a while, but it will happen.”
Though launching CAS has come with many obstacles Munroe believes that the work was not in vain.
Munroe said, “The business journey has been tough and heartbreaking, and sometimes discouraging. It is a long road, but once you get going it is a rewarding experience. The opportunity to build something that creates employment and to be able to provide for your family in such a way is all worth it.”
The Access Accelerator is the product of a tripartite arrangement between the Government, through the Ministry of Finance, University of The Bahamas (UB) and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC). The Centre works to guide the development, funding, growth, and evolution of Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (“MSMEs”) in The Bahamas.