The Over-the-Hill component of the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) is doing “much better” than expected, according to SBDC Executive Director Davinia Grant.
The SBDC is the product of a tripartite arrangement between the government, through the Ministry of Finance; the University of The Bahamas (UB) and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC). The center works to guide the development, funding, growth and evolution of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in The Bahamas.
Last May, a branch office was opened at the Edmund Moxey Youth and Community Center for residents of Over-the-Hill, with the intention of promoting economic development and expansion for more Bahamians; developing more Bahamian small businesses and entrepreneurs and developing youth in the community.
Grant told The Nassau Guardian she “absolutely” believes the program is doing well.
“I mean, it’s not without its challenges. You know, when you’re thinking about your dreams and, you know, capital to help you attain it, people wish it could happen overnight and that’s not happening,” she said.
“However, I think there are lots of people in the program who are appreciating the things that they’re learning, not just in classes but also from one-on-one advising from their advisors.
“And then they’re learning things that you would normally learn after years of bucking your toe, you know, and that’s our objective – to help small businesses buck their toes a little less, make a little bit more money, if not a little bit [then] a lot more money, but hire more people at the same time, create new industries, become innovative and we’re seeing that happen.
“We’re seeing that come to life day-by-day, so we’re very, very proud of the results thus far. Can we do better? Of course, we could always do better. But I think we’re doing much better than we could have expected.”
Between May and December 2019, the SBDC conducted two Over-the-Hill training cohorts, according to Grant.
She said that while the first cohort had 18 clients, the second almost doubled in number with a total of 31.
“As a result of each graduate receiving government grants of $2,500 each, a total of $110,350.12 was disbursed to vendors to meet the needs of their businesses,” Grant said.
“The Over-the-Hill program has also resulted in the creation and retention of 41 jobs for businesses from the first cohort – three seasonal, 14 full-time and 25 part-time. We expect even greater impact from the second cohort once the data is reported.”
Grant added that interest in the program seems high, as classes held for the Over-the-Hill community frequently experience individuals “walking in asking when is the next cohort and that sort of thing, so there’s a lot of interest for that particular zone”.
She said she expects that another cohort will begin in March.
“As we begin the 2020 year, we are looking forward to continued growth within our classes and keeping our commitment of giving entrepreneurs in over-the-hill communities access to proper business development services and capital investments,” Grant said.