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Helping Hands For Small Businesses

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

SMALL businesses will soon have access to a suite of "hand holding" services aimed at ensuring their viability, according to the head of the Small and Medium Business Development Centre (SBDC) who noted access to capital was not the only "major" challenges such businesses face.

According to Davinia Blair, the centre's executive director, the SMBDC, the non-profit entity which is a partnership initiative with the University of The Bahamas (UB), the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers' Confederation (BCCEC) and the Bahamian government will launch its services next month.

The SBDC is designed to build the institutional framework and support for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in their initial development stages.

"The launch date is September 20. The moment we launch based on the partnership that we have we will be able to affect all where there is representation of the Chamber immediately and spread to the others where there may not be direct representation," said Ms Blair during a recent Over-The-Hill economic revitalization community meeting.

Ms Blair noted that business advisory services is one of the SMDC offerings.

"Having canvassed a number of financial institutions looking to help small business in the past, we found that the major problem may not have been only access to capital. There is much more to it required to make this work. The business advisory services will be critical not just for start-ups but also business already in existence and would like to expand," she said.

Ms Blair noted SMDC advisors will be able to assist in market research for those looking to start a business and financial analysis to help start-ups strategise the future of their company.

"This is a very hands on process," said Ms Blair.

You will actually have access to advisory services for up to the first three years of your relationship with the centre, with SMEs to benefit from 'hand holding'. The incubation will allow us to watch what you're doing, and be a resource for you."

Ms Blair also underscored the importance of training and mentorship which the SMDC will also offer.

With regards to access to capital, Ms Blair noted while the centre will not directly provide funding, it will facilitate the necessary steps to be able to qualify for funding

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