RISE initiative sees continued success

PROUD RECIPIENTS – RISE awarded another round of small business recovery grant closing out Cohort II. Pictured are local business owners and RISE Grant recipients Sherica Smith-Pinder of Shabo’s Conch Salad Stand; Stephanie Ferguson, President of Phoenix Brokerage; Buffie Dorsette, Director of Phoenix Brokerage and Shipping; Capt. Patrick Cartwright, owner of Triple-A Boatcare and Maintenance and Wayne Hall, owner of Local Organics. (PHOTO COURTESY OF GBPA)

Team RISE has approved another 14 companies for small business restoration grants as Cohort II of the programme recently completed its final Selection Committee process.  RISE, which stands for Restoring Industries and Sustaining Employment, is a partnership between the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA), and Mercy Corps International (MC), a global humanitarian aid organization, along with key funding partners Bacardi Global and the American Red Cross.

The economic recovery initiative launched in December last year and has already awarded nearly $160,000 in funding to local businesses.

“We are encouraged by the quality of applications coming in for RISE and the diligence of the applicants. Our analysis of the incoming application data has reiterated a really pressing need for funding to micro and small business owners, post-Dorian, and we are pleased to be able to provide a comprehensive support mechanism for those businesses. We have now revised our goal remains to provide grants to at least 200 micro and small businesses,” GBPA Director, Henry St. George said.

RISE Grants provide up to $10,000 in business recovery funding for eligible businesses. Cohort III is now in process and accepting applications; and the deadline for Cohort IV is close of business on Monday, March 9. Subsequently, partners of RISE are encouraging all businesses that fit the selection criteria across Grand Bahama, to apply at www.risegbpa.com.

“Grand Bahama’s small business sector has endured enormous challenges since the storm,” St. George explained. “We designed RISE to support micro and small business owners with the reestablishment of their operations, to drive economic recovery, and to build resilience and sustainability against future catastrophic events through training.  The goal is to rebuild a small business sector that is stronger and more robust in the face of the climate challenges that have become our new normal.” 

The RISE grants continue to gain momentum, with more businesses applying in Cohort II and even more anticipated for the upcoming Cohort. Additionally, GBPA/MC Team will host new information sessions in East Grand Bahama, to assist business owners with their applications; details on date and venue for the meeting will be announced at a later date.

“Teaching businesses how to build a strong narrative with supporting documents and guiding them on how to validate their need for the award is critical to the overall success of their application,” MC Country Director, Pete Sweetnam, stated.

“Mercy Corps and GBPA want to see even more businesses apply for the grants and, even more receive funding.  Through RISE, they will receive essential business training and have the opportunity to participate in the MicroMentor programme for one-year free of charge. We all believe that this will add tremendous value and further enhance their operation,” he concluded.

Although retail and services sectors had the largest category of applicants, actual grant recipients represented a healthy cross-section of the local economy, including Maritime, Trade Services, Food and Beverage, and Technical trades; and, all recipients were extremely grateful to receive grants.

“We would like to thank Mercy Corps and the Grand Bahama Port Authority for granting us the Rise Grant.  This Grant is a Godsend and will assist Phoenix Brokerage with not only rebuilding but to grow our business bigger than it was prior to Dorian,” Stephanie Ferguson, President of Phoenix Brokerage and Shipping, expressed.

Another recipient of RISE, Capt., Patrick Cartwright, owner of Triple-A Boatcare and Maintenance, said, “I would like to thank the R.I.S.E & GBPA project team for an expeditious process. The RISE Grant has not only opened many doors for me, but it has given me the hope needed to go on.”

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