Restaurant owner Tarentee Laing wins $10,000 grant from Access Accelerator

FIRST PLACE WINNER – Tarentee Laing, Proprietor of ‘Keeping it Clean’ Take out Restaurant was named the overall winner of ‘Pitch Night’, a collaborative effort between The University of The Bahamas (UB) North and Access Accelerator on Friday April 5. Laing’s business received a $10,000.00 seed fund, to assist in the expansion of his already existing business. Pictured from left to right are: Nicholas Higgs, Senior Business Development Analyst, Access Accelerator, Small Business Development Center (SBDC); Yvette O’Conno, Director, SBDC, Grand Bahama; Laing and Dr. Ian Strachan, Vice President, University of The Bahamas North. (PHOTOS: UNIVERSITY OF THE BAHAMAS NORTH)

The University of The Bahamas North Campus continues to be a beacon for fostering youth development.

In an effort to encourage and promote Small Business Development (SBD) and entrepreneurship, UB North and Access Accelerator, a New Providence-base entity, partnered on Friday April 5, to host ‘Pitch Night’, when young persons were afforded the opportunity to showcase their new or already existing SBD ideas before a panel of five judges.

The winner, walked away with a $10,000.00 grant fund while the second place winner received a $5,000.00 grant fund, courtesy of the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Center.

Participants received assistance from the faculty and staff of UB North in preparation for the competition.

First place winner of the competition was Tarentee Laing. He is the owner of an already existing business venture, ‘Keeping it Clean’ Take out Restaurant. His winning business pitch idea was to expand his business into a sit down café. Second place was awarded to Hilary Huyler. His new business pitch was entitled, ‘Happy Hour Tours.’

Vice President of UB-North, Dr. Ian Strachan congratulated the participants for a job well done.

“Events like Pitch Night are wonderful because they give our students an opportunity to stretch themselves and test themselves. I am envious. I wish something of this sort had been available when I was a student. It challenges you to take an idea and sharpen it until that idea becomes something people are willing to invest in.

“The whole process of preparing to pitch is an education in itself, and then the event takes your education to another level. I’m very proud of the participants,” said Strachan.

Yvette O’Conno, Director of the Small Business Development Center for Access Accelerator here on the island of Grand Bahama expressed appreciation in being able to “collaborate with UB North” and called the joint venture “an absolute success.”

“Pitch night was phenomenal, competition was fierce, and some ideas were unique. I believe, if given the opportunity and proper assistance, these businesses can be sustainable. Congratulations to all the participants. I wish them success in their business endeavours. I look forward with anticipation to working with UB in the future,” she said.

First place winner of ‘Pitch Night’, Laing stated: “The grant money that I received from winning the UB North & SBDC pitch competition will serve as a huge help with completing the ‘Keeping It Clean: Pastries, Juices & Coffees’ program.

“I had already utilized all resource options within my power to fund the expansion of my restaurant. This final opportunity became available, and I sought to make the most of it,” noted the young entrepreneur.

He pointed out that the experience made him feel recognized for his business effort.

“Out of the entire experience, what I valued most, was that for the first time in five years, my tireless efforts are finally being recognized and rewarded, where I see great returns being harvested from my investments.

“Being a young entrepreneur in such a complex and financially struggling economy, it is such a challenging adventure, but, programs like this give young entrepreneurs the encouragement to keep hustling and pushing,” he said.

Following the announcement Huyler expressed: “Winning the grant money has really confirmed my idealistic view that thoughts influence action and anything you put your mind to can be achieved if you stay the course. One small victory at a time.

“I am hungry for more opportunities to come up and I’m excited to have an opportunity to start my own business,” said Huyler.

Six budding entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas during the event.

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