Load shedding creating financial challenges for small businesses

Small businesses throughout New Providence continue to be crippled by Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) load shedding exercises, which have caused many to lose out on thousands of dollars in revenue every week since load shedding began in May.

Chef Keshlah Smith-Clarke, who is the owner of Healthy Concepts at the Workspace Café on Chesapeake Road, said it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain her business with the inconvenient power outages.

“Most of the blackouts started even before summer started, but they weren’t as frequent. We’re a six-day operation business, right now we employ a full-time staff of eight. So, eight people depend on this same location and other production areas. We do food prep, meal prep, school prep. With no BPL, no electricity, how do we function?” Smith-Clarke told Guardian Business while sitting in the dark space where she would have normally been chopping vegetables and preparing for the regular lunch rush.

“All of us know that eating healthy in this country can be very expensive and one of the reasons behind Healthy Concepts, The Workspace Café and how it got started was I wanted to offer healthy food at an affordable price, but now with the cost of this, it’s costing us more money let’s say to buy a generator. If we don’t have a generator we lose thousands of dollars every week. How do I pay these people? How do I pay my VAT? How do I pay the government? How do I pay my landlord? It’s not going to work. I am not calling any blame, I’m just saying this time, this year, with businesses already struggling, it’s already hard to do business in this country, we are now having a second burden.”

William Bastian, who is the president of Incudesk – a work sharing space company, said there are 12 private space members and more than 100 shared space members that are inconvenienced and unable to carry out their business every time the power goes out.

“Incudesk, our whole concept is we house a lot of businesses within our building, and it’s definitely been a pain in the butt for the last few months. When we first started our business I can honestly say we hardly ever saw power outages in this area. Recently it’s been a whole lot,” he said.

Bastian said now the company is working with its landlord and tenants to have a generator installed.

“It has always been in our plans to have backup generation, but to get it this soon is really putting a lot of strain on us financially, but like we’ve stressed to all of our members this morning, we’re going to push to get things up and running in terms of a new generator within a week or two,” he said.

Smith-Clarke added, “Three weeks ago the government was announcing how unemployment is down. I’m going to guarantee you by December those numbers are going to change, because employers are not going to be able to hold employees with this going on. How [many] small businesses can afford a generator or even the diesel to put in the generator? We’re sort of in an okay place where everybody in here is in the position to say we’re going to purchase one.

“A couple thousand dollars last week, a couple thousand dollars the week before, I mean let’s add it up. But still I must pay everybody on Friday. That is not going to work.”

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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