Washington DC – 21st, July 2017 — Senator the Hon. Kwasi Thompson, Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, headed a delegation of Bahamian officials that participated in a capacity building tour facilitated by the Organization of American States (OAS) in the context of its Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) project from 17th – 21st July, 2017. The Bahamian delegation included officials from the Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Finance, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce, University of The Bahamas, The Bahamas Development Bank and The Bahamas Venture Fund.
On Thursday, 20th July, at a reception in honour of the SBDC Project at the OAS Headquarters in Washington DC, Minister of State Thompson remarked that “we know that at the core of sustainable, broad based and equitable growth and employment for countries in the region is small business development. In The Bahamas, and particularly in Grand Bahama our new administration has committed to empowering a new class of entrepreneurs and centralizing and enhancing government support for the SME sector. We intend to strengthen the legal framework governing SME development and better utilize the buying power of government and government influence in the private sector, particularly banking, to enhance support for small business development.”
He advised that “across The Bahamas, and in Grand Bahama in particular, this new support will focus on small business development in tourism, maritime and technology and will also take the form of capital assistance, business grants, and provision of business incubators for mentorship of budding entrepreneurs.”
Further, he reiterated “the commitment of the new administration to enhanced diaspora engagement” and “advise[d] that work is already underway to initiate dialogue with our nationals abroad in the coming months. We intend to collaborate in order to develop innovative ways to leverage our diaspora and we hope we can count on you as well as partners in the country’s national development.”
In the remarks at the reception, Minister of State Thompson also highlighted the existing opportunities for investment in Grand Bahama and advised on plans for the future of that island.
On Friday, 21st July, Minister of State Thomspon also offered remarks at a meeting of Project participants at the OAS on behalf of the Bahamian delegation to advise on The Bahamas’ vision for small business development and stated that “our plan calls for the Small Business Development Centers to be based at two campuses of the University of The Bahamas in New Providence and Grand Bahama and comprised of a team of professionals from a variety of sectors namely, the public sector, the academia, agencies responsible for small business development and the Chamber of Commerce. The Center will have the advantage of accessing a cadre of qualified faculty and a global network of resources aimed at small business growth. The Center will also play a significant role in supporting our University to achieve its mission within the community and foster economic growth and development.”
The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Project is funded by the United States OAS Mission to help expand the United States’ SBDC model in the Caribbean. The model focuses on the enhancement of economic development by providing small businesses with critical management and technical assistance through extensive one – on – one, long term professional business advising, low cost training and other specialised services. During its first phase, which commenced in 2012, it was executed in 5 countries – Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Jamaica and Saint Lucia.
The Bahamas was selected to be a part of the second phase of the project in 2017 and the implementation of the Project is overseen by the Ministry of Finance. Already having benefited from two rounds of in country training, Bahamian delegates joined seven other CARICOM countries for the capacity building study tour in San Antonio, Texas and Washington DC from July 17th-21st to meet with technical and policy leaders in the US dealing with small business development and to build networks with other SBDC operators.
Minister of State Kwasi Thompson greets other Members of the Bahamian delegation and local Bahamian Diaspora at a reception convened in honour of the OAS Small Business Development Centre Project at OAS HQ on Thursday, July 20th, 2017.
Minister of State Kwasi Thompson with senior officials of the Organization of American States (OAS) at a reception convened in honour of the OAS Small Business Development Centre Project at OAS HQ on Thursday, July 20th, 2017 . From Left to Right: Ms. Renee Penco, SBDC Programme Coordinator at the OAS; Dr. Maryse Robert, Director of Economic Development at the OAS; Ms. Kim Osboune, Executive Secretary for Integral Development at the OAS; H.E. Nestor Mendez, OAS Assistant Secretary General; Senator the Hon. Kwasi Thompson, Minister of State for Grand Bahama; the Hon. Lindsay Grant, Minister of Tourism, International Trade, Industry and Commerce of St. Kitts & Nevis; H.E. Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the OAS.
Minister of State Kwasi Thompson delivers remarks at a reception convened in honour of the OAS Small Business Development Centre Project at OAS HQ on Thursday, July 20th, 2017.
Minister of State Kwasi Thompson delivers remarks at meeting of country participants in the OAS Small Business Development Centre Project at OAS HQ on Friday, July 21st, 2017. Seated next to Minister of State Thompson is Deputy Chief of Mission at The Bahamas Embassy in Washington DC and Permanent Mission to the OAS, Mr. Chet Neymour.