Accountant Geoffrey Andrews has been named as board chairman for the tripartite venture intended to transform small and micro business development in The Bahamas.
Mr Andrews will be joined on the Small Business Development Centre's (SBDC) board by deputy chair, Dr Olivia Saunders. The board's other members are Merrit Storr; Ellison Delva; Clifford Johnson; Hank Ferguson; Tyrina Neely; Gina McKenzie; Remelda Moxey; Kristie Powell; Christopher Sawyer; and Pedro Rolle.
The SBDC is a joint venture between the Government, through the Ministry of Finance, University of The Bahamas (UB) and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC). Its role is to guide the development and funding of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) throughout The Bahamas.
"I was honoured and very excited to be nominated to chair the board of the SBDC, which I strongly believe has the ability to change the economic model being followed here in The Bahamas," said Mr Andrews.
"While I am fully appreciative of all of the major foreign direct investments which have helped the country grow over the years, we think that the SBDC presents a unique opportunity for micro, small and medium sized businesses to become the new drivers of the Bahamian economy.
"I encourage existing and potential entrepreneurs to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the creation of the SBDC. At the same time, the SBDC will allow local financial institutions more opportunities to tap into this market, enabling these institutions to increase profits while helping to improve the economy."
Dr Saunders added: "The SBDC is expected to provide significant and material support to MSMEs. As it fulfills its mission, it has the potential of being a catalyst for changing the economic landscape of the country with the growth and strengthening of indigenous business enterprises. It is a privilege and an honour to serve on the Board of SBDC as an active participant in this extremely important work.
Davinia L Blair, the SBDC's executive director, said: "Our new board will establish critical corporate governance and oversee organisational strategies, capital investments and financial accountability, among other things. Most importantly, this board will drive policy creation for the MSME sector throughout The Bahamas for generations to come."
K Peter Turnquest, deputy prime minister and minister of finance, added: "We are incredibly lucky to have board members with such a broad range of expertise including strategy, finance, legal, marketing, ICT (information and communication technology) and other specialised industry-related skills.
"These skill sets are highly coveted on any Board, and we are pleased to have them as part of our SBDC family. Plus our directors expose us to new business contacts and networks."
The "seven pillars" of the Government's policy to improve the enabling environment for small business are increasing direct financing to the MSME sector; enhancing both business and development support for MSMEs through innovative programmes; supporting entrepreneurship and MSME development within marginalised groups; fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation; removing or minimising political interference within MSME enabling agencies; and promoting linkages between Bahamian MSMEs and the economy's export industries.