By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
ISLAND Luck CEO Sebas Bastian yesterday announced the launch of his company’s second annual OWN Bahamas entrepreneurship programme, a self-starter grant funding initiative focused on offering entrepreneurial opportunities to Bahamians.
At a press conference yesterday, Mr Bastian highlighted OWN’s unique role in promoting economic development and supporting the acceleration of the Bahamian economy.
“OWN is all about taking ordinary people and creating extraordinary things,” he said. “I’m a firm believer that in order to change the economy in the way that we want it changed we have to start by building our Bahamians. Creating entrepreneurship, owning the Bahamas is very important to nation building. I want to see more Bahamians owning a piece of this Bahamas, and not just being ordinary employees.”
In last year’s inaugural launch, OWN Bahamas selected 10 Bahamians as successful applications. The top two participants, Youlette Etienne of Vennie’s Natural Factory, and Gregory Cooper of Recycled Waste Products Company, each were awarded $25,000 grants.
Two other winners including Bahari Clothing line founder Morgan Fernander, were offered $10,000 grants, while the remaining six were offered $5,000 grants.
This year, however, Mr Bastian said OWN Bahamas will award 12 successful applicants: two will receive $25,000, five will receive $10,000 and another five will receive $5,000.
The two successful recipients of the $25,000 grant will also receive an all expense paid trip to the Canton Trade Fair in Guangzhou, China on April 15, where they will receive the opportunity to learn and conceptualise new business ideas in areas such as machinery, electronics and building supplies, along with other manufacturing opportunities.
Additionally, all 12 winners will receive two years of free Internet service from the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC), an all expense paid course on small business ownership and business management at the College of the Bahamas, as well as the necessary graphic designs, logos, and marketing materials needed to launch their businesses.
According to Mr Bastian, the application process, which began yesterday, will last until February 24. The grant programme is open to all legal and eligible Bahamian citizens.
All persons seeking to apply for the OWN Bahamas programme must submit a short biography and state why they want to be an entrepreneur and their business idea. Other necessary documents include a legible copy of their passport, a copy of their National Insurance Board card, a valid police record not older than one month of the application submission date; two passport photos and three character references.
Candidates will be shortlisted two weeks after the deadline to present their ideas and business plans during a formal interview with the selection committee. The committee will then select the final candidates as the grant recipients.
Applications and more information regarding the initiative are available online at www.ilcares.com or www.ownyourbahamas.com.