A young man who broke his mother’s television set and learned to fix it on the spot, a woman who helped a former prisoner get his first business started, and a man who dove for his first lobster at 12 as his father looked on: what do these three have in common? They have each gotten access to funding from the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre (SBDC). Each of those entrepreneurs has taken those moments described above and turned them into small businesses that will help the Bahamians economy expand.
Don Brown of Wonder Tech was sitting down to watch “the Rock” wrestle when his wrangling lead to a broke television cord. His mother was understandably unhappy with this interruption and Don had to find a way to appease her. “I can fix it,” he exclaimed and proceeded to do so. Almost 20 years later, Don has turned his passion for fixing things into a business that keeps people connected, fixing cell phone and tablet screens affordably and with delivery. Wonder Tech has received $6,000 in business loans from The Bahamas Development Bank (BDB) with favourable terms through the Access Accelerator SBDC.
Also through the Access Accelerator, BDB provided $15,000 to Green Corporate
Services founder, Albertha Rolle. Through her company’s business management consultancy services, Albertha was able to help a former inmate navigate the business license process to start his own business successfully. Her passion is helping small businesses to upgrade their presentation. She’ll use the money awarded to expand her administrative, business license and corporate document services.
Island Breeze owner Kelsey Bridgewater will use the $15,000 in loans from BDB to purchase boat engines and materials that will help to expand his excursion business. Kelsey’s father Douglas Bridgewater has taken Kelsey and his siblings boating ever since they were small children growing up in Exuma. Kelsey dove for his first lobster at 12 years old and never forgot the feeling of immense pride and satisfaction he felt.
“He was a natural at it”, said his father, “and he’s been doing this ever since, not just for the tourists but locals as well.” Mr. Bridgewater believes that every Bahamian should be able to swim and have a boat and thanked the Access Accelerator SBDC for assisting in that process for Island Breeze.
Bridgewater’s comments were made at a celebration of successfully funded clients held at the Access Accelerator SBDC’s Gladstone Road office on Monday, May 20th.
Access Accelerator SBDC Business Advisors, staff and board members gathered to celebrate the eleven entrepreneurs funded by loans from BDB along with two others financed by loans from RBC. The Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund was also present, having offered equity funding to several of the entrepreneurs being celebrated that night. The entrepreneurs included:
- Island Breeze, founder Kelsey Bridgewater
- Better Days Pizzeria, founder Petula Clammons-Henfield
- WonderTech, founder Don Brown
- Exuma Christian Academy, founder Keniqua Burrows
- Pulpy, founders Shaquille & Anthonique Coleby
- Fineena Artis, founder, Donaita Outten
- A Stitch in Time, founder, Jennis Thompson
- Jujukanoo, founders Vanessa Miller/Kevin Knowles
- Greene Corporate Services, founder Albertha Rolle
- Remarkable Carz Rental Service, founder, Brian Williams
- Vue AV, founder Juan Bethel
- Shiver, founders Elvis Percentie and Melissa Darville
- Drive Greene, founder Benjamin Davis
Access Accelerator Executive Director Davinia Blair was proud of the advisors who had worked hard and the clients who were relentless in the pursuit of their dreams. “We are extraordinarily pleased to have 13 clients funded for $786,000 in the space of eight months. Some of our clients have been seeking funding for some time but have not been successful until going through our process. These companies are now going to hire Bahamians, expand their work and increase their revenue. This was our objective when we started, and it feels good to be here. There are 55 business plans in the pipeline, and we trust that some 7 million will be approved for funding by the end of the year.”
To date, the SBDC has advised some 752 clients across The Bahamas. Existing businesses continue to work on the financials necessary to secure funding, while start-up entrepreneurs are guided through the planning process. Monies obtained by the firms that receive funding are paid directly to the various vendors and institutions that the client has identified in their business plan. No money goes to the individual, and this is what makes the SBDC different than any other government-funded program.
The SBDC 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 will work to guide the development, funding, growth, and evolution of Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (“MSMEs”) in The Bahamas.