Bahamian businesses get early support from the Tourism Development Corporation’s new Incubation Centre, downtown

The content originally appeared on: ZNS BAHAMAS News
(BIS Photos/Kemuel Stubbs)

A new era of innovation and business growth was ushered in with the official opening of the Tourism Development Corporation’s Incubation Centre.

This move by the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) is designed to allow small businesses with locally produced items for the tourist industry market rent-free space, in the hope they can eventually grow into their own spaces.

And, it comes on the heels of introducing the StreetSmart242, an innovative application aimed at redefining the tourism experience in The Bahamas, which was launched at Nassau Cruise Port, downtown, on Monday, March 11, 2024.

The Incubation Centre is located in the Kelly Building on Bay Street, downtown Nassau. 

Several vendors already have spots, namely Blended Creations Mixed Media Art and Handmade Crafts; Through The Pages Bahamian bookstore; Apryl Jasmine clothing line; Build-A-Pal bear workshop; and Straw Works by Patricia Chatti.

On hand for the opening ceremony were Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments, and Aviation the Hon. Chester Cooper; TDC Chairman, Rafique Symonette; entrepreneurs and relevant stakeholders.

“It is wonderful to be here with all of you as we take an important step forward in supporting Bahamian-owned businesses in our tourism sector,” the prime minister said in his Opening Remarks.

He observed that with the opening of the Tourism Development Centre’s Incubation Centre, a new era for entrepreneurial innovation and business growth is welcomed.

“Bahamians have the desire, the talent, and the creativity to own more of the tourism pie – so we’re here to offer support at the early stages of their journey, so they can grow their micro business into a small business, or their small business into a larger venture.

“This project is a testament to our belief in Bahamians and a testament to our commitment to nurturing their dreams and aspirations,” the prime minister said.

He pointed out that his government understands that the innovation needed for the country to prosper can only come from the people.

“The government’s job is to do what it can to facilitate and encourage that innovation. So, while we can make critical investments in infrastructure, in protecting our environment, and in empowering our people, it is our Bahamian innovators and creatives who will take our tourism product to the next level,” the prime minister said.

And, while observing that the Incubation Centre is the first of its kind but certainly not the last, he said, “We will gather feedback, make adjustments to optimize the programme, and then replicate this model across multiple islands.

“By providing this rent-free space, we are taking on one of the barriers to opening and growing a small business in The Bahamas, which is the cost of doing business.”

The prime minister then applauded the Tourism Development Centre, as well as the deputy prime minister, for having the vision to create this initiative and the drive to bring it to fruition.

Deputy Prime Minister Cooper confirmed that the center is a pilot project that other incubation centers across The Bahamas will be modeled on.

He also explained that the vendors who occupy the storefronts, which are in a building east of East Street, would be able to run their operations rent-free for six months and then under a subsidized rent scheme for another six months.

“This initiative is a direct counter to any skepticism about the inclusivity of the tourism sector’s benefit to Bahamians from all walks of life,” he said.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the incubator program is designed to support emerging businesses by offering rent-free space for six months, followed by subsidized rent-free for another six months. This approach helps to identify and nurture businesses, providing them with a launching pad for future success,” he said.

Even though the entrepreneurs selected are from a group of more than 100, the deputy prime minister stressed that this is only the beginning.

“We hope that with this support, they find their sea legs and move into storefronts of their own, creating a pathway for more entrepreneurs to be developed.”

TDC Chairman Rafique Symonette said, “Our mission through the incubator center is to provide a platform that enables small businesses to thrive in a dynamic retail space.  We’re committed to encouraging entrepreneurship and encouraging a vibrant ecosystem.”   

Source:By LINDSAY THOMPSON/Bahamas Information Services

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