April 20, 2021
The third round of the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre (Access Accelerator) Standalone Grant Programme has concluded, with $569,000 pumped into 129 small businesses. The third round activities bring the total investment in MSMEs to 2.3 million dollars, injected into 549 small businesses through the grant initiative.
The Standalone Grant Programme gives small business owners access to up to $5,000 in grant funding. The first round of funding under the programme was launched on October 8th, 2020, with one million dollars in allocated funds. In round one, 860 businesses applied, 256 of which were funded. Round two, with $500,000 in overall financing, had 1,862 applicants with 164 funded, and round three, with $500,000 in total funding, received 1,359 applicants.
Collectively, the three cycles impacted 15 islands across The Bahamas – San Salvador, Mayaguana, Acklins, Inagua, Eleuthera, Crooked Island, Bimini, Berry Islands, Cat Island, Andros, Abaco, Exuma, Long Island, Grand Bahama and New Providence and 14 business industries – fishing, accommodations, agriculture, entertainment, healthcare, transportation, personal service activities, construction, education, manufacturing, landscaping and maintenance, food and beverage, professional services and wholesale/retail trade.
Davinia Bain, Executive Director of the Access Accelerator, stated that while she is satisfied with the organisation's impact, employment is most important.
Bain said, "We know that businesses had to make tough decisions last year, terminating or furloughing employees. Through these initiatives, the goal is to assist small businesses to continue or begin to employ Bahamians. That is how we improve the economy. Small businesses account for the majority of jobs in The Bahamas, so for us, the best impact is to sustain employment but ultimately increase it."
According to data received from applicants of the Standalone Grant Programme, 2,120 employees were impacted through the 549 approved businesses. Bain thanked the various agencies that assisted in the adjudication process, which she described as "protracted" but necessary.
Bain said, "The adjudication process of the programme included numerous agencies that impact the small business sector, which we are grateful to and whom we thank for their assistance in ensuring a fair approval process. The adjudication process is a protracted one, but to ensure transparency and fairness, it is necessary. The committee goes through each application individually, ensuring that what is required is there and that approvals are evenly dispersed across industries and islands."
She continued, "We know that many people criticise our process but we have done our part to ensure transparency. Our recipients are placed on our website with the amount awarded for public viewing. We recognize our limitations with funding, but to still be able to help over 500 small businesses with over 2 million dollars in assistance should not be overlooked.”
The Adjudication Committee of the Access Accelerator comprises the Access Accelerator, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employer's Confederation, Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund, Bahamas Development Bank, University of The Bahamas, Bahamas Agricultural & Industrial Corporation, Department of Fisheries, Department of Agriculture, Office of the Prime Minister (Grand Bahama) and the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce.
The Bahamas Government initially pledged five million dollars per year for five years to support small businesses through the Access Accelerator. Since launching in September 2018, the Access Accelerator has invested 64.3 million dollars into the small business sector, impacting over 2,000 local businesses. Reinforcing the commitment to small businesses, the Government increased its pledge to provide the organisation with 250 million dollars over the next five years.