The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA) and its Invest Grand Bahama Small Business Bureau announced the winners and grant recipients of up to $15,000.00 from GBPA’s Capital Arena Initiative Cohort II.
Executives of GBPA, University of The Bahamas (UB) and Capital Arena hosted a press conference on Wednesday (May 1) at the GBPA Headquarters, where the winners were presented with their grants.
GBPA President Ian Rolle said that the initiative, a Grant Funding Programme, was created to assist local entrepreneurs. The GBPA launched the project back in January 2017, as a Small Business Development initiative of its Invest Grand Bahama Small Business Bureau (IGBSBB).
Rolle revealed that they received 99 submissions with 18 making it to the second round, before being cut to eight winners. Cohort II, launched in early January 2019, was opened to existing business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. The deadline for submission of proposals was February 28, 2019.
“The ideas were very innovative,” Rolle said.
He added that they were pleased by the number of millennials participating in the initiative this year and the businesses they introduced.
Rolle congratulated the participants and wished them well in the next phase of the programme, which will be a training course.
GBPA Chief Financial Operator (CFO) Deanne Seymour, echoed Rolle’s sentiments and commended all of the recipients.
“I’m telling you that you’ve done an excellent job to have gotten this far,” she said.
Seymour added that being an entrepreneur is not easy but noted that taking advantage of opportunities such as the ones this programme provides can make doing business a little easier.
“I encourage you to remain passionate,” she said.
Seymour advised the entrepreneurs to be committed as it will only benefit them and their businesses.
Senior Management of Business Development and Invest Grand Bahama Derek Newbold, shared that the participants did a phenomenal job at pitching their ideas.
He noted that this cohort was probably the most competitive that they have had.
“Now we expect you to complete a specialized training course that we have developed in concert with the University of The Bahamas,” he said, adding that the course was created specifically for the programme.
Newbold expressed that they were extremely proud of the unique set of ideas being presented in the programme this year.
He said that hosting the Capital Arena every year is vital to supporting entrepreneurs, by providing them with opportunities for sustainability and access to capital.
GBPA Customer Relations Manager Nicole Colebrooke, with responsibility for business licenses, noted that all of the candidates were well prepared.
“In my mind all of the candidates are winners,” she said.
Director of Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning at UB Denise Sherman, also commended the recipients and spoke about the programme they would be participating at the university.
“You’re looking at an eight-week programme,” she said, noting that the sessions will focus on financial management and planning.
Janiece Saunders of Bee Unique, who was among the eight grant recipients, stated that her experience was unforgettable. “I had never been so afraid in my life.”
Saunders furthered that she became comfortable after giving her pitch. As a bee keeper, she sells products made from honey.
Saunders also expressed appreciation for the programme, despite her initial fears.
Proprietor of Mr. Bush Tea Fenrick Russell, stated that he was elated for the opportunity to participate in this endeavor.
Russell added that his passion for utilizing the country’s native resources drives his business.
Russell noted that he was proud to be a part of the Capital Arena. “I feel like I’m going through a metamorphic experience.”
Crystal McIntosh-Flowers, Head Cake Fairy of ‘Treat Me Sweet’ Custom Cake Studio also shared her experience as a ‘gladiator.’
“I enjoy learning and development, so it helps to be taught how to present your ideas clearly and succinctly,” she said.
McIntosh-Flowers stated that she now has more “laser focus,” because of her experience in the programme.
LaTravalia Williams of Wing Ding stated that her passion came from being around food her entire life and wanting to bring something new and unique to Grand Bahama.
She also expressed gratitude for the opportunity to expand her business through the Capital Arena. “The opportunity for growth is just amazing.”
The remaining recipients were Hilary Huyller II of Happy Hour Tours; Jamaal Sweeting of Family Offices; Ingermar Nixon of Go-Gettas and Marcus Garvey of Ambulance Services.