Seven Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre clients, having gone through the Access Accelerator’s exacting and rigorous process, have reached the stage of being recommended for funding, an accomplishment celebrated by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance The Hon. K. Peter Turnquest at the centre’s first ever Christmas Party on Tuesday, December 18, 2018.
The Access Accelerator is the result of a tri-partite partnership between the Ministry of Finance, University of The Bahamas and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation. The Centre was created to give effect to the government’s new seven-pillar policy on Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) and does so by providing business advisory services, training in entrepreneurship, mentoring, advocacy and access to capital.
The seven Access Accelerator clients ready to be put forward for capitalization are Drive Green Rentals, a rental car agency combining zero-emission eco-friendly car rentals with value-added features like in-car WiFi and hotel partnerships; Cee-Marr Telecoms, a tower erection, maintenance, and repair company, which has branched out into small scale wireless installs, dc power installation, equipment decommissioning and other areas; Exuma Christian Academy, a K-12 international Christian private school located in a mixed-use neighborhood four miles west of Georgetown, Exuma; Ride Bahamas Digital, a new and innovative ICT company providing digital smart screens to the business community of Grand Bahama; Shiver Premium Ice Cream, a frozen dessert manufacturing company; Vue A/V, a provider of audio/visual services, and Island Bike, a bike-share company that hopes to take advantage of the increasing adventure and experience tourism market, as well as to provide healthy and exciting options for local tours and entertainment.
These seven are among the first to go through the Access Accelerator process. They began their journey with the Access Accelerator when the Centre opened for business on September 24, 2018, and are now ready to be funded.
Said Mr. Turnquest, “That means they have gone through the process of meeting with Access Accelerator Business Advisors, of scrutinizing their business idea and crafting a bullet-proof business plan, had their numbers crunched and vetted by multiple pairs of eyes and a couple of really big brains, and they now have the Access Accelerator stamp of approval. It means we are certain that when they present their business plans to the funding community, those plans will stand the most stringent scrutiny, and – all things being equal – we have every confidence they will get the capital they are seeking. This is the first true test of our model, and we are sure we will pass with flying colours.”
“This is what excites me,” the deputy prime minister said. “Seeing Bahamians working hard, being creative, is what excites me. This is what it’s all about: this is about creating wealth for Bahamians, by Bahamians, and we have to celebrate that. We have to support that. So I’m very happy to be here to participate in this first tranche of new millionaires in The Bahamas.”
Mr. Turnquest explained that the government has committed $5 million per year for the next five years, a total commitment of $25 million, to be disbursed to Bahamian micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) through grants, loans and equity financing. The Access Accelerator has used the government’s $5 million as a guarantee, which has allowed the Centre to access even more in low-cost, guaranteed loans for disbursement.
Said Mr. Turnquest, “That means that the many entities that make up our funding ecosystem will now be invited to compete for our clients’ business, which is a brand new model for The Bahamas and which changes the paradigm.”
He challenged all who have business ideas to have an entrepreneurial spirit, to take the next step, to become business owners and become a part of the economy and make a positive contribution to the economic sustainability of The Bahamas.
The deputy prime minister was speaking at the Access Accelerator’s inaugural Christmas party, held at the Centre’s headquarters at the Gladstone Freight Terminal. Hundreds of Access Accelerator clients come together to celebrate with board members, financing partners and the members of the media. A special feature of the evening was the client showcase, with goods and services from over 40 clients on display.
Executive Director of the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre Davinia Blair noted that one of the goals of the new entity is to create Bahamian millionaires, a goal first voiced by the deputy prime minister while envisioning the outcome of the programme.
“It’s true. We want to create millionaires. We want to facilitate persons who – you might not have thought about it ten years ago, but today you’re in the space, you have access to opportunities, you have access to expertise, and you have access to whatever assistance the government has provided,” she said, celebrating the government’s commitment to small business in The Bahamas.
All businesses with turnover less than $5 million dollars and fewer than fifty employees as small businesses, which covers just about 98 percent of all businesses in the country.
“We believe that Bahamians should get into business, and that they can succeed beyond their wildest dreams with the benefit of the access that we are creating and providing here at the Access Accelerator,” he said.