STRAWD received access to $198,632.85 in capital investment from the Bahamas Development Bank through the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre (Access Accelerator).
STRAWD is a Bahamian small business that will manufacture and sell eco-friendly paper straws. The company intends to supply straws locally and to nearby markets. It will be a part of the local and global initiative to eradicate single-use plastics and its impact on the environment.
Tony Miller, the owner of STRAWD, said that the inspiration for the business came from the increase in awareness of the adverse effects of plastic on the environment and the government’s 2020 ban on single-use plastics in The Bahamas. Desiring to see The Bahamas import less and create more, Miller decided to create Bahamian made eco-friendly straws.
Miller said, “Our goal is to become pioneers in eco-friendly and sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics. We saw an opportunity to fill a timely need. We wanted to be a part of the generation of entrepreneurs that are moving away from importing by finding simple but widely used items that can be manufactured here in The Bahamas.”
Now a funded client of the Access Accelerator, the entrepreneur said it still feels unreal and like a burden was lifted.
“It feels awesome to be funded through the Access Accelerator! We never thought this day would come, so it still feels like a dream. A weight has been lifted, and we can positively contribute to building the Bahamian economy, provide for our families and the families of the staff we will soon employ.
“What is more exciting is that we get to do this while simultaneously positively impacting the environment. This funding will help us on so many levels. We can now source the machines needed and raw materials required for production. We now have the capital required to bring our business to life.”
Discovering the Access Accelerator through newspaper articles and social media posts, Miller joined the non-profit organization after having a challenge obtaining funding.
“It was a challenge obtaining financing on our own and hard to find someone who believed in us and our vision of STRAWD,” Miller said. “We realized that we needed to partner with an organization such as Access Accelerator who could support us with business advisory services, mentorship, advocacy, and access to capital.”
Miller continued, “Our experience of trying to access capital was frustrating and discouraging. We approached numerous banks, but the response was always disappointing as they typically requested collateral well above what we were able to provide, typically 100% or more. We were considered too risky of a venture and subsequently denied the funding we so desperately needed.”
Though Miller said the journey to funding was not easy, he is glad he enrolled in the Access Accelerator program.
Miller said, “To be honest working with the Access Accelerator was not an easy journey at times, but we are so glad we enrolled. It took a lot of patience, perseverance, persistence, and dedication to the process to achieve this first level of success. We are so grateful to Sherrell Storr who facilitated the business training we received and for our advisor Jermaine Hepburn who was an invaluable asset to our success.
“He motivated us when we got discouraged, provided much-needed guidance, and was the listening ear when we needed to vent our frustrations. We also could not have accomplished this milestone without the assistance we received from the team at Executive Business Solutions Ltd.”
As STRAWD begins a new journey, Miller advises other small business owners to think about diversification, have confidence in their business and commit themselves to the process.
Miller said, “Our advice to other small business owners would be to think about ideas that can diversify the local economy. The path to obtaining funding can be a long and arduous journey, so commit yourself to the process. Find a mentor and enroll in the Access Accelerator, which will help you to navigate more seamlessly through the various stages of business ownership. Have confidence in the product or service your business offers while still being able to adapt to critical feedback. Most importantly, don’t give up and keep knocking on every door of opportunity until your vision comes to fruition.”
The Access Accelerator is the product of a tripartite arrangement between the government, through the Ministry of Finance, University of The Bahamas (UB) and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC). The Centre works to guide the development, funding, growth, and evolution of Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (“MSMEs”) in The Bahamas.