A multi-million dollar group that was founded through a $5,000 self-starter granted celebrated its seventh anniversary at the weekend, launching a scholarship programme and investment fund to assist the next generation of Bahamian entrepreneurs.
Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, deputy prime minister, K Peter Turnquest, and other Cabinet ministers were among invited guests attending Saturday's event at the company's Abundant Life Road headquarters.
Also present were the Inter-American Development Bank's (IDB) country representative, Maria Attademo-Hirt; Chamber of Commerce officials, Edison Sumner and Gowon Bowe; Cuban Ambassador, Ismara Vargas Walter, and Wayne Treco of CGT Contractors and Developers (more commonly known as Treco Construction).
Since its founding in 2010, Bahamas Striping has evolved into the Bahamas Striping Group of Companies (BSGC). This included the original business, Airport Maintenance Services, Caribbean Pavement Solutions, Bahamas Themed Photography and Abaco Caribbean Holdings.
Hailing Bahamas Striping as "one of the fastest growing groups of companies in the Bahamas," Dr Minnis said: "I admire the great work of this company and its staff. I admire the energy, the innovation, the enthusiasm and, most of all, the desire to help new enterprises and new entrepreneurs.
"Be assured that you will have 150 per cent support from our government…You are not only a centre of excellence; you are also a centre of hope."
Mr Turnquest added that the company embodies the Free National Movement campaign slogan, "the people's time."
"It is about empowering Bahamians who would not ordinarily have the opportunity to achieve the kind of success in business as Bahamas Striping has had over the last seven years," he affirmed.
"These gentlemen have shown what creativity, commitment and hard work can achieve in a very, very short space of time with very little. Business is not just about making a profit; it is about being good corporate citizens and helping those who may not be able to do for themselves."
Bahamas Striping has the Dollar That Could charitable arm, and has paved numerous basketball courts throughout the Bahamas free of charge.
As a part of its seventh anniversary celebrations, the company announced the Charles Maynard Scholarship Fund to assist in educating young Bahamians. The $50,000 pledged will be distributed over a five-year period, with the Maynard family selecting recipients.
Mr Maynard, the former minister of state for youth, sports and culture, died suddenly in 2012. Bahamas Striping president and founder, Atario Mitchell, credits him as a "true believer" in the company and its vision.
Mr Mitchell was one of 400 individuals who received the Self-Starter grant from Mr Maynard's ministry. Accepting the symbolic cheque on the family's behalf was Mr Maynard's parents, Andrew 'Dud' and Isadora Maynard, along with the late MP's youngest daughter, 10-year-old Chana.
"We never expected this to come about, but now I intend to sit down with the Minister of Education and see how we can make that money do the most for the most people," said the elder Maynard. "We have a lot of young people who have fallen through the cracks through the years."
Expressing his eternal gratitude, Mr Maynard vowed to make the money grow through fundraisers, promising the foundation will be around "for years to come".
Mr Mitchell, meanwhile,said that as a 23-year-old, his dream was to launch the company and travel throughout the Bahamas "just putting marks on the road."
"I never really thought the idea would bring us to where we are today but I was always hopeful," he said. "I'm proud to stand here seven years later to see what we have built as a team. It gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment."
Reaching the seven-year mark was a difficult journey, according to company executives. "We do what it takes to get the job done," said Dr Allen Albury, the company's managing director. "In our country it's very challenging for young businesses, especially small and medium-sized businesses.
"You either give up or you have to fight. This company decided we will pool our energy and resources and continue to press, despite the various challenges that we face."
"We thank those individuals who blacklisted us from opportunities. If we were not blacklisted we would not be here today. We would still be a small, home-based business striping parking lots rather than airports, roads and [completing] international contracts," said senior vice-president of business development and company chairman, Dominic Sturrup.
Bahamas Striping plans to launch The Investment Group within the next 60 days, describing this as a combination of the Government's Self-Starter grant and the Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund, which invests in new or rapidly growing companies.
"We are not just going to give them the money. This isn't a grant. This is a business," Mr Sturrup explained of the fund for entrepreneurs. "That million has to go and come back, and bring $5 million in 24 months."
The plan is to provide successful recipients with the necessary expertise in accounting, law, marketing, human resources and/or operations. Felix Stubbs is expected to chair The Investment Group.
"Atario and I made a decision that we would take the resistance that we faced and [we would] be strong, be survivors and win," said Mr Sturrup.
As a part of its seventh anniversary celebrations, Bahamas Striping announced it had established the Charles Maynard Scholarship Fund to assist in educating young Bahamians. The $50,000 pledged will be distributed over a five-year period, with the Maynard Family selecting recipients. From L to R: Bahamas Striping's president and founder, Atario Mitchell; Isadora Maynard, Charles' mother; Chana Maynard, the late MP's youngest daughter; senior vice-president of business development and company chairman, Dominic Sturrup; and Andrew "Dud" Maynard, Charles Maynard's father.