By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
A BRANCH of the Small Business Development Centre was opened on Baillou Hill Road on Wednesday, providing a central location for budding inner city entrepreneurs seeking to access the programme’s training and financing services.
The SBDC offers advisory, training, mentorship, advocacy and capital access services to small and medium-sized businesses and is the Minnis administration’s central programme for boosting ownership opportunities for Bahamians.
Davinia Blair, executive director of the SBDC, said $100,000 has been set aside exclusively for Over-the-Hill residents within the Economic Empowerment Zone. Individual residents will be allowed access to $2,500.
To obtain funding, a person will have to be recommended by the SBDC and the recommendation will depend on one’s performance during training and advisory services. The SBDC board will make the recommendation. The SBDC can recommend that people receive additional funding beyond the available $2,500.
Ms Blair stressed that access to the grant can only happen if residents complete the training programme. “We expect to build a long-term relationship with you. Your advisor will be with you for the first three years. They will be calling you once a week for the first year, once a month for the second year and at least once a quarter for the third year so you have long term assistance to make sure you meet your goals,” Ms Blair said.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said in the past several months the SBDC has trained nearly 500 people through its two-week programme of classes and provided almost 300 hours with its one-on-one business advisory services while registering over 3,500 people in the country.
“This branch is a part of our ambitious and broader Over-the-Hill programme. There are several goals we are promoting with the opening of a SBDC branch here and these goals are economic development and economic expansion for more Bahamians,” he said.