At the beginning of each New Year, dreamers begin to formalise their plans, and stretch themselves to realise their goals. One goal that seems to occupy the minds of millions, and perhaps billions, of people throughout the world is that of entrepreneurship. People love the thought of owning and operating their own business. Despite the 90 per cent ‘fail’ rate for such start-ups, many Bahamians remain willing to assume the risk of engaging in sole proprietary enterprise.
With the probability of failure as great as it is, one may wonder why so many still take the plunge. However, we must recognise how crucial small and medium-sized businesses are to the strength of the economy. In fact, 85 per cent of registered businesses in the Bahamas fall into this category, and they form the backbone of the Bahamian economy. For this reason alone, there must be a greater emphasis placed on encouraging responsible Bahamians towards business ownership.
Local investment must take centre stage in the National Development Plan. It must be supported by both private and public sector grants to ensure that preventive, and supportive, measures and interventions are available for able and willing Bahamians. A strategic plan to identify those capable must be implemented as a deliberate effort to balance the high - and increasing - number of large- scale foreign direct investment (FDI) projects.
Here are a few suggested sectors/industries for Bahamian entrepreneurs to ponder as 2017 approaches:
Tourism and Hospitality
Here is a sector that has consistently delivered great value to the Bahamas, Bahamians and the economy since the 1950s.
A diversification of product offerings could certainly add a nice touch to the visitor experience, and provide a wonderful career opportunity for passionate individuals. Here are the tourism and hospitality lists, many of which require minimal capital investment and, if executed skillfully, could secure significant returns:
These could be specifically marketed to the five million-plus cruise passengers heading to the Berry Islands, New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco, Bimini and all other cruise ports of entry.
While we have not been blessed with the richness and vastness of nature’s bounty, and an ability to produce and extract treasures from the Earth and soil, there is sufficient to process and manufacture for the sake of local and international use. We have enjoyed some success in the packaging and manufacturing sector, but these suggestions in 2017 should motivate others to pursue:
Canning and bottling of locally-grown fruit and vegetables
Drying and frying of locally-grown fruit and vegetables
The use of local fruits and vegetables in the preparation of packaged delicacies
Health and Wellness
Bahamians are certainly receiving the message that wealth hinges on our health. The proposed National Insurance Health (NHI) plan, the large number of walkers on the local parks, and numerous educational programmes dedicated to producing a healthier nation are all indicators of this. Simple business ideas for health and wellness include:
Morning and afternoon walk/run/push programmes for the whole family
After-school care programmes that provide a wholesome and educational environment for children during the crucial hours of 3-6pm, as parents wrap-up the work day
Nutritional programmes such as Weight Watchers, which are Bahamianised to include items in the standard local diet prepared healthy
Lest we risk being left behind, Bahamians must take advantage of entrepreneurial opportunities online and in technology. Consider the fact that 75 per cent of Bahamians have smart phones, laptop computers and other technological devices that will either need to be upgraded, replaced or repaired periodically. The entrepreneurial suggestions for this dynamic sector include:
Upgrading and reselling of used phones, i-pads, computers and other technological gadgets
Repair of phones, I-pads, computers and other technological gadgets
Online consignment and sale of specialised items in the Bahamian market
This list is designed to simply stir your creative juices, allowing you to explore the endless possibilities that exist for Bahamians. Go get your piece of the pie in 2017.
• NB: Ian R. Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organsations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.