By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Staff Reporter
Island Yogurt is expanding to Abaco this summer via the signing of its first franchise agreement.
Kimberley and Paul Brown, Island Yogurt’s owners, together with their franchisee, Niya Walkine, held a brief signing ceremony at the Port Lucaya Marketplace on Friday.
The Browns, who opened the first location in Grand Bahama in 2012, said it was their dream to become a national brand.
“We have always seen Island Yogurt as a national brand. Today, that dream is closer to reality,” Mrs Brown said. “It is something for Abaco residents to look forward to as the community continues to recover following the devastating impact of Hurricane Dorian.
“As a Bahamian brand, we are thrilled to share this announcement. This significant milestone is special. In the coming weeks, we will begin the process of branding our Abaco location. We will also begin to order and install equipment and market throughout our newest community.”
Ms Walkine, a Grand Bahama-based entrepreneur, expects to open the franchise in Marsh Harbour. She was able to secure funding for the franchise through funding arranged by the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) and the Bahamas Development Bank.
“Soon all funding made available… will be injected into the opening of my own Island Yogurt,” Ms Walkine said. “I look forward to growing the brand and I’m excited to help stimulate the economy of Abaco by hiring talented staff and, most importantly, giving back to the community as Island Yogurt has done in Grand Bahama.
“We realise we have more work to accomplish, and goals to achieve, as we contribute to the economic sustainability of both islands, Grand Bahama and Abaco.” Ms Walkine, who is a Grand Bahamian, decided to open a location in Abaco because she has family there and is confident the economy will rebound.
“My mother relocated to Abaco and I travelled there a lot, and I have seen it pre-hurricane and post. There is great hope for the economy in Abaco,” she added.
Ms Walkine, who has known the Browns for more than 18 years, said: “I feel privileged as a young Bahamian and an entrepreneur because I have been an entrepreneur my entire adult life, and funding is always an issue. I am thankful to SBDC for their help in funding the process.”