Three firms inked their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The Investment Group (TIG), a new $1 million fund designed to help facilitate small business growth in The Bahamas.
The brainchild of Bahamas Striping Group of Companies (BSGC) the fund will deploy $1 million amongst 10 to 15 firms. The first three recipients, receiving varying amounts of undisclosed sums, are United Data Technologies Limited, K W Paving and Global Energy Solutions Limited.
“This is what our country needs. This is what will inspire the next generation of Bahamians to build a Bahamas that will become the envy of the world,” said BSGC president, Atario Mitchell during the 90-minute launch ceremony Thursday evening, followed by a brief mix and mingle. “We see this investment group as a vital need towards creating Bahamian ownership and spurring job creation all across our country.”
A private-sector enterprise, BSGC decided it was time to either put up, or shut up in helping to empower Bahamians, create new jobs and provide youths with an opportunity to fulfill their dreams.
According to Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, the event’s keynote speaker, dreams deferred are likely to die.
That is why youth entrepreneurial empowerment is a major focus of his administration, he said. He views it as a useful tool to tackle long-entrenched problems, such as unemployment and crime, in urban areas.
“I’ve come to endorse the effort of Bahamas Striping in going far beyond its remit in launching what is really a private venture capital fund,” said the prime minister to the intimate gathering assembled at the British Colonial Hilton. “This is genuine and this is new, and it should be applauded.”
Any avenue expanding the private sector and creating new opportunities should be welcomed, said Dr Minnis in expressing thanks to the striping group for their past, present and future generosity.
“I applaud this new initiative by Bahamas Striping as it has the potential to open the doors for many, not only these three Bill Gates who are sitting here,” he said, referencing The Investment Group first cohort of recipients.
“My government is committed to helping the small man. We believe he has a stake in the economic growth of The Bahamas and we will put our resources to work for you.”
According to Felix Stubbs, chairman of the Board of Director for The Investment Group, there is a team in place, to not only administer the fund, but provide some level of management, professional and technical support to beneficiaries.
TIG board members include vice chairman and president of the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, Mick Holding; Providence Advisors CEO, Ken Kerr; CEO of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC), Edison Sumner; Vianna Gardiner of More Development Co Ltd and Leon Williams, former BTC CEO.
According to Mr Stubbs, the board anticipates a sufficient level of return to ensure the fund’s sustainability and reward its principles for their generosity.
“They have the uncanny ability to see opportunity where many of us see challenges,” said Mr Stubbs referencing BSGC’s principles, Mr Mitchell and Dominic Sturrup, BSGC chairman and senior vice president of business development.
In its seven years of existence Bahamas Striping has grown from a $5,000 start-up to a multimillion dollar, multilayered company.
The fast growing group includes the flagship enterprise, Bahamas Striping, a full-service road maintenance company. Airport Maintenance Services specializing in all aspects of aerodrome maintenance services at world-class standards.
Caribbean Pavement Solutions operates as regional distributor for asphalt rejuvenation products and has a proprietary environmentally-friendly cold patch asphalt repair mix. Another company, Bahamas Themed Photography specializes in high-end digital imaging services.
Then there is Abaco Caribbean Holdings and Atillio Holdings, a property investment, management and development subsidiary.
BSGC’s new role as an angel investor, or one who invests capital in a small or newly established enterprise, “breaks the stigma” that young Bahamians cannot work together, said Khadaff Whyms, owner of K W Paving, a company founded in 2010, specializing in road and sidewalk paving trucking, heavy equipment, demolition, well drilling and trenching.
Mr Whyms will utilize the funds he is to receive for expansion and acquisition of additional equipment.
With his disbursement, engineer Darius Johnson is set to launch Global Energy Solutions Limited, a company specializing in energy saving devices.
Mr Johnson told the gather he’d like to see government offices solarized in a phased process.
“The time has come for the country to address its high energy costs,” said the engineer who believes clean energy (powered by solar, wind and water) is the answer.
“Alternative energy cannot wait. The time to act is now,” Mr Johnson said, noting Global Energy’s interest in partnering with the public and private sectors.
Meantime, Quincy Rolle’s United Data Technologies Limited is built on the premise “that a modern Bahamas requires modern [technological] systems to thrive in a 21stcentury.” The new firm brings to the marketplace mobile apps, smart database systems and software products.
Its first major project is the Smart City Mobile App, a communications platform designed to be used by citizens to report non-emergency issues via their cell phones.
Bringing remarks at The Investment Group’s launch, Mr Rolle expressed his gratitude to BSGC. Speaking on behalf of the recipients he pledged to “build on the opportunity afforded to us.”
“When we talk about small business development in the country, or business on the whole one of the issues that always comes up as a major concern is access to capital,” said TIG board member and CEO of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC), Edison Sumner.
“We have heard the cry when businesses approach banks and other institutions they often meet a closed door.”
For enthusiastic and innovative entrepreneurs, TIG is expected to be a game changer.
“I believe that our future is bright and as you are seeing here, we are committed to doing our part,” said Mr Mitchell.