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BAHAMAS: SBDC Family Island Roll-out Begins with Exuma



#Exuma, October 25, 2018 – Bahamas – The Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre has kicked off its Family Island rollout on Exuma, meeting with the Exuma Chamber of Commerce and holding a town hall meeting in Georgetown, where dozens of excited entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs gathered to hear about the new entity and to sign up.

Access Accelerator Executive Director Davinia Blair was a featured speaker at the Exuma Business Outlook as well. She spoke to the crowd about what the data said about Exuma’s Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs).


Town Hall

One attendee at the town hall meeting was enthusiastic about the advent of the Access Accelerator, though she lamented that such an entity took so long to come to life.

“If this had been around when I was first starting out, I’d be a millionaire,” she said.

Another attendee summed up the need for the Access Accelerator when she described her frustrations trying to get her business idea off the ground.

She said, “I couldn’t find the right people to get into contact with.”

In addition to discussing the services the Access Accelerator will begin offering Exumians today (Tuesday), Ms. Blair acknowledged what some attendees said, that MSME development did not appear to have kept pace with the development of the island overall, even though by some measures, MSMEs in Exuma are outperforming the larger businesses.

Ms. Blair reiterated that the government has committed that 20 percent of its procurements would be reserved for MSMEs. She said in addition to that commitment, there must be a commitment to include local MSMEs in the supply chain for foreign direct investment (FDI) opportunities.

“Bahamian MSMEs – and for Exuma projects, Exuma MSMEs – must be at the table as heads of agreements are being negotiated,” Ms. Blair asserted.



Later in October, the Access Accelerator will be in Abaco, where the Access Accelerator team will meet with the Abaco Chamber and hold a town hall meeting to introduce the Access Accelerator and connect with the local entrepreneurial community.

In November, Blair is expected to speak at the Long Island Business Outlook, and other islands to which the Access Accelerator is bound before taking a break for the Christmas season include Andros and Eleuthera.



With the new name and branding, the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre has three critical new hires which highlight the tremendous momentum generated by the official launch on September 20, and carried into the first two weeks of operations, including the graduation of the first classes of entrepreneurs from the two-week introductory course, both in New Providence and Grand Bahama.

The SBDC is the product of a tri-partite arrangement between the Government, through the Ministry of Finance, University of The Bahamas (UB) and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employer’s Confederation (BCCEC). The Centre has a three-year mandate initially to guide the development, funding, growth and evolution of Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (“MSMEs”) in The Bahamas.

Executive Director Blair announced that the SBDC had hired a Senior Business Development Specialist, an Associate Director of Operations and had contracted someone to design and build the Access Accelerator website.

Mr. Nicholas Higgs is the Centre’s new Senior Business Development Specialist, tasked with providing business development advisory services to MSMEs and assisting the Executive Director with overall operation of the program.

Mr. Higgs is responsible for providing counseling on all aspects of small business operations including but not limited to management, financing, operations, marketing and personnel. He will have a special emphasis on capital advising for small businesses. In addition, Mr. Higgs will conduct client counseling, assist in the development and implementation of training events and workshops, promote Access Accelerator services, network with community organizations involved in small business and economic development, and assist in maintenance of data in the Access Accelerator Client Activity Training System (CATS).

“I view my role as one of the most important in fostering and growing startups, small and medium companies in the country. My role specifically is to assist companies with sharpening their financial swords to fulfill their goals of raising funds, expanding their companies or to simply become a more efficiently-run company,” said Mr. Higgs, who sees the Access Accelerator, and by extension himself, as something of a Jedi master for Bahamian startups.

Ms. Bianca Lee is the new Associate Director of Operations, tasked with oversight, supervision and administration of the SBDC’s business operations.

“I am very excited, because we will be able to focus on a section of the market that I believe has been untouched. Entrepreneurship is a big thing, especially among young people – even in passing you can hear people talking about their entrepreneurial dreams. Being able to provide support and guidance to those persons will be amazing, especially to assist that process from start to finish,” she said.

Meanwhile, the SBDC has selected Travis Miller of Thought & Method to develop the SBDC website, which is expected to be launched for public use in mid-December 2018.

Said Miller, “I’m excited about the SBDC because the initiative will allow entrepreneurs more opportunities to get their ideas out there and develop or refine their businesses and likely get access to funding to help make their dreams a reality. I believe what SBDC will provide will impact the landscape for entrepreneurs for years to come.”

The new hires come after the appointment of the SBDC Board of Directors, chaired by Geoffrey Andrews and Deputy Chair Dr. Olivia Saunders, two weeks ago. The new board includes Merrit Storr, Ellison Delva, Clifford Johnson, Hank Ferguson, Tyrina Neely, Gina McKenzie, Remelda Moxey, Kristie Powell, Christopher Sawyer and Pedro Rolle.


Press Release: Small Business Development Centre

Photo Captions:

Header: Executive Director of the Access Accelerator Ms. Davinia Blair discusses the new entity with entrepreneurs in Exuma at a town hall-style meeting, where she advocated for Exuma businesses to be included in discussions about FDI projects planned for Exuma.

Insert: Executive Director of the Access Accelerator Ms. Davinia Blair discusses the new entity with entrepreneurs in Exuma at a town hall-style meeting, where she led a panel including Exuma Chamber of Commerce President Pedro Rolle and Department of Inland Revenue




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CARPHA Team undertakes Assessment of Guyana’s National Surveillance System for Non-communicable Diseases



October 14, 2021 – The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) conducted a technical mission to Guyana from September 22nd – 25th, 2021 to undertake site visits as a part of an ongoing assessment of six (6) Member States’ systems for the national surveillance of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors. This activity was implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Guyana through an Agence Française de Développement (AFD) – funded project.

The aim of the assessment s to provide evidence in support of the development of a Regional Surveillance System for NCDs, a priority under the regional health framework Caribbean Cooperation in Health IV (2016-2025).

During the mission, the CARPHA technical team reviewed the capacity of existing surveillance mechanisms in Guyana to collect, analyse and report on the NCDs and risk factor indicators proposed for the regional surveillance system. These indicators were recommended by a multi-stakeholder meeting series convened in 2020 under the AFD project, which reviewed global, regional, and sub-regional mandates, targets and practices in surveillance for the prevention and control of NCDs.

The CARPHA Team along with senior officials from the Ministry of Health conducted visits to two (2) health centres, the National Cancer Registry, Ministry of Health Surveillance, and Statistics Unit.  The results from the overall assessment will be presented to the Ministry of Health Guyana and will also be reviewed alongside results from similar assessments in Anguilla, Aruba, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname to inform the finalisation of the regional surveillance system design through a regional stakeholder meeting.

The regional NCDs surveillance system would facilitate the reporting and availability of data to inform policy development, planning, and tracking of progress towards meeting for targets NCDs at Regional and National levels.

Through funding from the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), CARPHA is leading the Region in Strengthening Strategic Intelligence and Partnership Approaches to prevent and control NCDs and Strengthen Regional Health Security in the Caribbean. This project, signed in 2019 with a value of €1,500,000.00, demonstrates the commitment of the Government of France and the French people to supporting the public health priorities of the Caribbean Community through CARPHA.

More information on the Project can be found at:

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Bahamas News

World Sight Day: Love Your Eyes



Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.  14 October, 2021.  In the Caribbean, the leading causes of blindness are glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy (a complication of diabetes).  According to the Vision Atlas, 6.2 million persons in the Caribbean were reported to have vision loss, with an estimated 260,000 persons reported to be blind in 2020.

Information gathered from eighteen (18) Caribbean countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago) with a population of 44 million, showed that the crude prevalence of blindness was 0.60%, and the prevalence of all vision loss was 13.20%. Many of the persons affected were females at 52%.

Global statistics reveal that for 2020, a total of 596 million persons had distance vision impairment worldwide, of this number 43 million were blind.  Projections for 2050, indicate that an estimated 885 million persons may be affected by distance vision impairment with 61 million expected to experience  blindness.

CARPHA’s vision for the Caribbean is a region where the health and wellness of the people are promoted and protected from disease, injury and disability, thereby enabling human development in keeping with the belief that the health of the Region is the wealth of the Region.

Although there are no projects that directly address vision impairment, CARPHA in collaboration with its public health partners is implementing initiatives to address risk factors such as unhealthy diets, use of harmful substances and poor physical activities. This in turn, will help reduce the risk of disability due to complications associated with poor blood sugar and blood pressure management.

Efforts to improve the standards of care for diabetes through the implementation of the CARPHA Guidelines on the Management of Diabetes in Primary Care in the Caribbean, and training of health care workers from the CARPHA Member States will also contribute to the prevention of vision impairment and blindness due to diabetes.

Access to eye care services can reduce visual impairment.  CARPHA urges Member States to strengthen health systems to improve eye health services with emphasis on reaching the vulnerable and those most in need.  Governments should commit to integrating eye care into the universal health care system.

World Sight Day is celebrated annually on the second Thursday in October.  The focus of the day is to bring awareness to blindness and vision impairment as a major public health issue and blindness prevention.

The 2021 commemoration observed on 14th October, seeks to encourage persons to think about the ‘importance of their own eye health.’

Our eyes are working hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been indoors, in front of our screens, and probably missed our eye test appointments. Now more than ever, we need to protect and prioritize our eyesight. There are simple things you can do for yourself to prevent the development of serious eye issues:

  • Take screen breaks for at least five minutes every hour
  • Spend time outside.  Increased outdoor time can reduce the risk of myopia (near-sightedness)[3]
  • Get an eye test. A complete eye exam can detect eye conditions such as glaucoma before it has an effect on your sight. The earlier an eye condition is identified, the easier it is to treat.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet and engage in physical activity. These are crucial steps in maintaining a healthy weight, controlling obesity, and preventing diseases such as diabetes, all of which can impact eye health.
  • If you have diabetes, you should have your eyes checked every year

Your sight cannot be taken for granted.  It is time to LOVE YOUR EYES!

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RBDF Congratulates Retired Commander Defence Force on National Honour Award 



#TheBahamas, October 13, 2021 – The Royal Bahamas Defence Force congratulates Commodore Retired Leon Livingstone Smith, who was a recipient of the 2021 National Honours Awards on October 11, 2021. 

During a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street, Commodore Smith was presented with the Order of Distinction within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, by Governor-General, the Most Honorable Sir Cornelius A. Smith. Also in attendance were his daughter, Mrs. Italia Seymour, and the Commander Defence Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King.

Commodore Smith was one of sixteen other deserving individuals recognized on National Heroes Day for the vast contributions they made to the development of the country. The first Bahamian Officer to be appointed as Commander Defence Force, he is the longest-serving Commodore to serve this office from 1983 to 1997.

Throughout his military career, he received numerous awards and accolades, and his career in public life spanned over forty years, and on September 19, 2014, an RBDF Legend Class Vessel bearing his name was commissioned. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force is truly grateful for the devoted services of Commodore Smith to the organization and his country.

Commander Defence Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King extends congratulations on his behalf of the members of his Executive Command, Officers, Senior Enlisted, and Junior Enlisted members of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, to Commodore Retired Leon Smith, on his great accomplishment.


Header:  Commodore Retired Leon Smith being presented with the Order of Distinction within the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, by Governor-General, the Most Honorable Sir Cornelius A. Smith on October 11, 2021, during a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street.

Insert: Commodore Retired Leon Smith along with recipients of the 2021 National Honours Awards on October 11, 2021, during a ceremony at the British Colonial Hilton Hotel, West Bay Street.

(RBDF Photos by Able Seaman Paul Rolle II)


(For further information please contact the RBDF Public Relations Department or visit our website:, follow us on FacebookTwitter and view our Youtube channel) 




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