Bahamas, August 14, 2017 – Nassau –
- Cabinet Colleagues
- Mr. Atario Mitchell, President and Founder, Bahamas Striping Group of Companies;
- Allen Albury, Managing Director;
- Dominic Stirrup, Director of Business Development;
- Invited Guests;
- Ladies and Gentlemen
Many of you in this audience would recall that it was only a few months back, June, 10th, to be exact, that I had the opportunity of being with Atario and the principals of his company and the employees of Bahamas Striping as the company celebrated its 7th Anniversary. It was a wonderful occasion which, together with some of my Parliamentary colleagues, we thoroughly enjoyed.
At that time, you had built your celebrations around the theme of the mustard seed, a theme taken from the Bible which we all know. The mustard seed, though the smallest of seeds has the potential to grow into the mightiest of trees, far exceeding its small beginnings.
I am happy to note that this is indeed the model of growth of Bahamas Striping and to be quite frank, it has far exceeded what it thought would have been its potential.
There are many lessons to be learnt from the exponential growth and development of this company, and I never allow an opportunity to pass without publicly lauding Atario Mitchell for what he has been able to accomplish. This enterprise is a shining example of that dictum that give an individual an inch and he will achieve a mile. It speaks to the fact if given the opportunity, ordinary – – and I stress the word ordinary – Bahamians have the will and determination to succeed at anything.
I have read Atario’s own testimony and it is worth quoting in full because through his own words, he says it so well:
“As a young person, I did not come from a rich family, I had no political connection, I didn’t graduate at the top of my class but today in a progressive Bahamas, I have through hard work success is possible.”
Let me remind this audience and to those who will perhaps read and listen to what I have to say that this reality that we have today in Bahamas Striping was created under another Free National Government. It was in 2010 that this enterprise was started through a grant from the Self-Starter Program launched by a previous FNM Government. I am pleased that the Free National Movement has had a longstanding commitment to youth and business development.
I go on record by stating that youth entrepreneurial empowerment will be a major focus of my administration as we see this as a means of tackling some of our long entrenched problems in our urban areas such as unemployment, crime and social anomie.
Today, I have come to endorse the efforts of Bahamas Striping in going far beyond its remit in launching what is really a private venture capital fund. It is my understanding that the company has taken $1m of its funds and will use it to establish funding opportunities to young adults who can come forward with bankable proposals that would allow them the opportunity to get a leg up in the world of business. This is genuine and this is new and it should be applauded.
I need not tell you that there are countless examples of young individuals who have ideas to start a business enterprise but who have nowhere to turn to find the first red penny to advance their proposals. They are unable to obtain funding through the established commercial banks and quite naturally they would not have the connections or the knowledge to obtain private financing. And so what happens, the dream is deferred, and the dream dies. Needless to say, this leads to personal frustration and social explosion. And so I applaud this new initiative by Bahamas Striping as it has the potential to open the doors for many.
One of today’s realities is that the private sector must expand. It must be that sector of our economy that must be bold and imaginative. We know that the public sector is already overburdened when it comes to creating new employment and so any opportunity that the private sector has to expand and create new employment should be welcomed.
Another point that is really very important, that I wish to highlight, is this — and the story of the development of Bahamas Striping bears this out. Our economy needs small and medium enterprises to grow and become successful. More often than not, these are the companies that employ those who are marginalized and who may not fit into the conventional mainstream of employable skills. But the market place must find room for such young men and women, and often the best way to do this is allowing such persons to do their own thing.
Finally, if I were to make an observation for the benefit of those who will be approving and monitoring these small grants and loans, and it is this. Be on the lookout for those who bring creativity and enthusiasm to their proposals.
Today, it is so commonplace to see everyone doing the same thing. While healthy competition is good, one must be careful not to dismiss out of hand, that proposal that might go against the grain. Our economy needs all types to grow and to flourish and we must be on the lookout for these types of individuals.
That having been said, we know of the ever growing demand for those who would wish to do landscaping and gardening services, courier/delivery services, trucking and haulage, grooming and beauty business, food and drinks vending services and so on. Not everyone has to become a mechanic or a contractor or the likes. Find that for which there is a demand and then create a service.
I would repeat that which I said earlier. My Government is committed to helping the small man. We believe that he has a stake in the economic growth of The Bahamas and we will put our resources to work for you.
On my last visit with you, I mentioned the culture of training with which Bahamas stripping is imbued. The training and empowerment of young men is a cornerstone of your corporate culture. You are not only a center of excellence. You are also a center of hope. You are an example for other young entrepreneurs.
But the Government is also doing its part when it comes to training. Just across the street from the headquarters of Bahamas Striping is the BTVI. Then there is the National Training Agency which only recently enrolled its 8th cohort of students and which is preparing young people for the world of work and enterprise. And of course, at the highest level, there is the University of The Bahamas. My point is that an array of training is available in many forms and I encourage our young people to take advantage of such training.
I congratulate Bahamas Striping for that which it is launching today. This will have a profound impact on the lives of many young people by giving them that much needed jump-start to their lives.
I thank Bahamas Striping for what they will do. I wish to assure you of my fullest support on a personal level, and of course, you know that you can depend on the co-operation of my Government.
Congratulations and thank you!