#TheBahamas, July 10, 2021 – Good afternoon. I am pleased to be here today to celebrate the ground-breaking transformation taking place with our financial landscape here in The Bahamas. From the start of our tenure, this administration has made it a priority to uplift Bahamian micro-, small, and medium-sized enterprises, also known as MSMEs. At every step of the way, we have focused on creating new opportunities for growth and support of this critical sector of our economy and society.
Since we launched the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Center in 2018, this Administration has since injected over $60 Million into small businesses across the country in the form of grants and loan-guarantees. By any reasonable metric, this administration has done more to support Bahamian Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses than any administration prior. It is a track record that we are immensely proud of.
Today, we make another revolutionary step in the development of entrepreneurial and small business opportunities in The Bahamas.
The Economic Recovery Committee, established by the Prime Minister, provided a number of recommendations to support more and more Bahamians getting into business so that we can have more dynamic and inclusive economic growth. One of those recommendations was that the government: “Implement legislation to facilitate and support crowd sourcing and junior stock markets to expand access to capital by Bahamian businesses.”
I am pleased to report that the government has heeded that recommendation. As such the Cabinet of The Bahamas recently approved new regulations from the Securities Commission that establishes a legal framework to allow MSMEs to participate in what is commonly referred to as “crowdfunding”. These regulations have been gazetted, released to the public and are now in effect.
Crowdfunding is a modern form of business financing that allows small businesses to raise money from many small investors, typically using online platforms. These reforms represent a gamechanger for business ownership and entrepreneurship in our country.
With these new and innovative crowdfunding regulations, we are furthering the potential of MSMEs to raise more investment money on the private capital market. We are breaking down the walls that were once only able to be traversed by big corporate players. A new wave of possibilities for Bahamian ownership and entrepreneurship is here.
Crowdfunding is a relatively inexpensive way to raise capital for a start-up when compared to traditional means such as bank loans or initial public offerings. Over the last decade or so, crowdfunding has gained popularity in the start-up world. Particularly after the 2008 financial crisis, the cost of borrowing funds from banks became exorbitantly expensive. Pair that with the complexities and costs of debuting a public offering, entrepreneurs were left with little options to source the capital they needed to make their ideas reality.
This is where crowdfunding has been incredibly useful. Entrepreneurs can avoid the expensive and often onerous processes involved with traditional fundraising and secure debt-free capital by selling a stake in their businesses, but yet while maintaining control of their companies. Through the advent of financial technology, or “Fintech”, crowdfunding has become even simpler. Online platforms can be developed to host businesses and investors alike and orchestrate crowdfunding with the click of button.
The new rules are now in effect and they represent a game changer. Eligible entrepreneurs can raise up to $5 million to put towards the development of their start-ups or existing small businesses. And better, the platforms allow them to raise this money from citizens and residents across the country who are interested in investing in promising businesses.
This administration is streamlining the bureaucracy. We are undertaking real structural reform. We are allowing Bahamian entrepreneurs and small businesses to have the same kind of opportunity to raise capital like the big businesses currently do.
For example, interested individuals will not be required to file the typical prospectus with the Commission as would be needed for a public offering. Instead, they would file a streamlined ‘Crowdfund Offering Document’ or “COD” prior to conducting a crowdfund distribution. This is a significantly less expensive process when compared to the minimum $20,000 prospectus. . This is just one way that we are breaking down the barriers for Bahamian entrepreneurs and small businesses to raise capital in The Bahamas.
The new crowdfund rules provide an appropriate balance between access to capital for entrepreneurs and, of course, provisions to ensure protection for potential investors. The rules also seek to minimize systemic and jurisdiction risks.
These innovative regulations have already created space for the establishment of the nation’s first licensed equity crowdfunding platform, which goes by the name Arawak X. I understand as well that The Bahamas International Stock Exchange (or BISX) has also been approved to establish its own similar platform to raise funding for Bahamian Small Businesses. We expect to see even more innovators come forth as a result of the new framework highlighted today.
I thank the Securities Commission, the Economic Recovery Committee, and everyone who worked tirelessly to outline and implement the new crowdfunding rules. I am so excited to see the creative ventures that will grow as a result of this work. Thank you.
PRESS RELEASE: Prime Minister Minnis Thanks Bahamians for the Last Four Years
#TheBahamas, September 18, 2021 – Free National Movement (FNM) Party Leader, Hubert A. Minnis thanked Bahamians for the last four years in tonight’s concession speech:
“Tonight I spoke with Leader of the Progressive Liberal Party Philip Davis and offered my congratulations to him and his party on their victory at the polls. I offered him my best wishes as his Government now faces the continued fight against COVID-19, and the restoration of our economy.
I would like to thank the tens of thousands of Bahamians from across The Bahamas who voted for Free National Movement candidates. I also congratulate the FNM candidates who won seats in the House of Assembly. I am in that number, and again my gratitude goes out to the people of Killarney for making me their representative for the fourth consecutive time.
I will lead the Free National Movement into the House as the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. The Bahamas has a proud democratic tradition. The people decide who serves as government. Our party presented its vision for the future to Bahamians from the northern islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco, all the way to the southern islands of MICAL.
The people determined that they preferred the Progressive Liberal Party. My party and I accept that result. We are proud of our record the past four-plus years.
During our term we faced the most difficult times in Bahamian history. In September 2019, Abaco, the Abaco Cays and Grand Bahama were struck by the strongest storm to hit The Bahamas. Hurricane Dorian was one of the strongest storms recorded on our planet. It caused generational destruction to our northern islands. Six months later, we were in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Throughout each crisis my Government worked hard to assist the Bahamian people. On the northern islands we have had to rebuild roads, water systems, schools, docks, bridges and other critical infrastructure.
In the pandemic, we provided tens of millions of dollars per month in food and unemployment benefits to citizens, along with tax credits to businesses. We fought hard to secure more than half a million doses of three of the best vaccines in the world.
The FNM has a proud legacy. We have governed The Bahamas over four terms. Our philosophy is to use the resources of government to provide opportunity to those who have historically been without. That is why we invested in free preschool, providing early education to thousands of children. That is why we invested in free tertiary education at the University of The Bahamas and BTVI.
That is why we created the Over-the-Hill initiative to benefit people in grassroots communities with tax concessions and development assistance. That is why we invested record amounts in Family Island infrastructure. That is why we created the Small Business Development Centre, extending millions of dollars to help Bahamians realize their dreams.
Our belief in the Bahamian people was also evidenced in the manifesto we ran on in this election. We pledged a Universal School Meals Program, expanded access to afterschool programs, $250 million to Bahamian small businesses over five years, expanded access to Crown Land, support for the arts and agriculture and fisheries, along with many more policies for the people.
We did not win this time. But I say to the next generation of FNMs that you should stay firm to this party’s founding ideals. Always put the people first, and be honest in government.
The people have asked us to be the opposition. We will ensure the people’s resources are spent properly. We will ensure there is accountability. We will oppose when necessary. We will agree when the Government’s plans are in the best interests of the people.
I thank my wife Patricia and my family for supporting me during this term, and throughout my life. I also thank the officers, members and supporters of the Free National Movement for their assistance and encouragement during my time as leader.
And to the Bahamian people, I say a warm and heartfelt thank you for my time being your Prime Minister. You are a strong, hardworking and resilient people. Hurricane Dorian did not break you. The pandemic has not broken you.
You trust in the God who has brought us this far. Trust that He will bring us further to brighter times. Again, thank you. And may God bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
BAHAMAS: PM Philip Davis Swearing In Speech
THE HON. PHILIP DAVIS, M.P., QC,
ON THE OCCASION OF
HIS CEREMONIAL SWEARING-IN AS
PRIME MINISTER OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 19TH, 2021
BAHA MAR BALLROOM
Your Excellency, the Governor-General; First
Lady, Ann Marie Davis, Deputy Prime Minister
Elect, I. Chester Cooper and Mrs. Cooper, Honourable and Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I wish to thank the Bahamian people who turned out and voted resoundingly for change.
As I said on Thursday night, you voted with brave hearts, and you voted with hearts full of hope for our country.
It was unfortunate that many Bahamians who wished to participate in this election were not able to do so. It was the first time in modern Bahamian history that so many voters were disenfranchised – and I hope it is the last. The right to vote is the essential right in a democracy.
Our new administration comes into office at a time when the Bahamian people are hurting as never before.
In recent months, as I travelled the length and breadth of our beautiful country, many people shared with me their stories of hardship and need and despair.
Against that backdrop, we face the many crises borne out of the Covid-19 pandemic: tragic numbers of our people are becoming ill and dying; our hospitals in a state of collapse; our doctors and nurses and other frontline workers pleading for support to shore up our healthcare system.
The economy is also in decline, as we face an historically high deficit and debt. The news of the downgrade yesterday underscores the severity of the fiscal crisis and the urgency of moving quickly to address it.
The challenges in education also deeply concern me. Thousands of young Bahamians have missed out on their education during the past few years, first because of the displacement caused by Hurricane Dorian, then because of the way the Covid-19 crisis has been managed. These are indeed big challenges.
Some have questioned why we want to serve when the problems are so difficult. But my team and I offered ourselves for public service precisely because these problems are so difficult – and precisely because we believe that we have the right vision, the right policies, and the right team to take this country forward. We will not fail if we keep the best interests of the Bahamian people as our guiding north star.
As a young boy growing up in Cat Island, I faced many hardships and obstacles. I know what it is to be poor.
As a young man trying to find his first job, I faced doors that seemed always slammed shut. I know what it is to feel disappointment. As a lawyer trying to build a practice, I missed out on many opportunities because I didnt have the right connections.
I know what its like to be on the outside looking in. In my family life, I know the ups and downs of raising children and sending them out into the world. I am determined to take the wisdom gained from these experiences and use it to help others. It is possible to overcome. It is possible to work hard and succeed. It is possible to forgive. And it is possible to bring about the changes you wish to see.
These are the values that will inform my decisions in office. In just under two years time, we will celebrate fifty years of The Bahamas being a fully independent, sovereign nation. We must begin to deliver more purposefully the promise of Independence. Independence is more than freedom from rule by others. It is the defining purpose of our country, which says that every one of us is entitled to reach our fullest potential.
And so each day we will ask ourselves: What can we do to ensure that the aspirations and hopes of the Bahamian people are translated into opportunities and paths to success? Deep in my heart I know that with God, all things are possible”.
If we work together, towards a common purpose, in the common interest and for the common good, great things are indeed possible for our country and our people. But no government can do great things on its own. I am sure that my government can only succeed if we partner with the Bahamian people.
We are going to consult widely.
And we are going to bring people together.
That is the best way to make progress as a nation. No leader and no government should be isolated from the people.
I also commit to lifting the veil of secrecy on that which has gone before us, so that all of the arrangements under which we have to live are transparent, and those who authored them are accountable. We will govern in the interests of all Bahamians, not just the privileged few. We will act in ways that rebuild trust between the government and the Bahamian people. We will uphold the constitution and the rule of law, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly, so that its not one rule for one set of people, and another for another set of people.
There is much work to be done; but I know that by working together, we can succeed and build the kind of prosperous, independent Bahamas that our founding fathers dreamed for us. It will not happen overnight, but with steady progress, we will get there.
I pray God’s blessings and guidance upon us all, and in the words of St. Francis, “make us instruments of your peace; where there is discord, let me bring union; where there is doubt, let me bring faith; where there is despair, let me bring hope; where there is sadness, let me bring joy.”
I thank God for having blessed us with this beautiful country, and the bountiful birthright which we have inherited.
I thank the many people over the years who have supported me to this moment, where I am able to step into servant leadership for the benefit of the Bahamian people.
I thank my family, especially my wife Ann, and my children, my siblings, Alvin, Don, Craig and Trevor, my one and only sister, Diane, who every day continue to give me so much love and support.
And I thank the Bahamian people who have placed their faith and confidence in me and my team.
EPIC ELECTION! 39 chosen from HUGE field of 228 Candidates, PLP WINS
#TheBahamas, September 18, 2021 – Concluding with another sweeping swing, Bahamians for the fifth consecutive General Election have made the swap between the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and the Free National Movement (FNM) and this time, the Hubert Minnis-led FNM Administration saw the curtain close dramatically on its performance in exchange for the ‘New Day’ alternative presented by Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, leader of the PLP.
The polls closed at 6pm, the call to concede came at 9 pm. Just as the general elections came in a snap for The Bahamas, so did the realization for Dr. Hubert Minnis that his Free National Movement party failed to recapture the majority of seats in parliament and just like that, Philip Brave Davis became the prime minister elect for The Bahamas.
“We are going to listen. We are going to consult widely. And we are going to bring people together. That is the best way to make progress as a nation. No leader and no government should be isolated from the people. I also commit to lifting the veil of secrecy on that which has gone before us, so that all of the arrangements under which we have to live are transparent, and those who authored them are accountable. We will govern in the interests of all Bahamians, not just the privileged few. We will act in ways that rebuild trust between the government and the Bahamian people. We will uphold the constitution and the rule of law, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly, so that it s not one rule for one set of people, and another for another set of people,” said Hon Philip Davis, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas in remarks at his Ceremonial Swearing in which took place at the Baha Mar Ballroom on (today) Saturday September 18, 2021.
In epic fashion this year’s elections unraveled and in equally stunning loss, the FNM was resoundingly rejected. The party held onto only seven constituencies; the PLP racking up 32 seats in the House of Assembly. In 2017, the split was four to the PLP and 35 members of parliament for the FNM.
It was a polling day which observers believe has drawn the lowest voter turn-out in history and one which ratified the highest number of candidates of any voting day.
There were 228 individuals who offered for the 39 seats. Added to the fray were virtually unknown organisations like the UCP, BCP, the KGM and the GCP; more familiar to Bahamians as an alternative to the usual PLP and FNM offering were the Coalition of Independents (COI), just several months old and the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), making its third appearance on the ballots.
The Parliamentary Registration Department informed there were 192,587 registered voters across the archipelago; 20,000 of them new. However, a staggering number of people were not registered as they were caught off guard by the surprise announcement of September 2021 as Election Day instead of a May 2022.
The Parliamentary Registration Department was plunged – ready or not – into a snap process, having to manage a highly contentious race in the midst of the killer coronavirus pandemic.
“I would like to thank the tens of thousands of Bahamians from across The Bahamas who voted for Free National Movement candidates. I also congratulate the FNM candidates who won seats in the House of Assembly. I am in that number, and again my gratitude goes out to the people of Killarney for making me their representative for the fourth consecutive time. I will lead the Free National Movement into the House as the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. The Bahamas has a proud democratic tradition. The people decide who serves as government,” expressed Dr. Hubert Minnis, in his Concession Speech on the night of the election September 16, 2021.
Hubert Minnis for the fourth consecutive time won the majority of votes, to hold onto the Killarney Constituency.
“We did not win this time. But I say to the next generation of FNMs that you should stay firm to this party’s founding ideals. Always put the people first, and be honest in government. The people have asked us to be the opposition. We will ensure the people’s resources are spent properly. We will ensure there is accountability. We will oppose when necessary. We will agree when the Government’s plans are in the best interests of the people,” said Dr. Minnis in an issued statement.
The outgoing prime minister was criticised for his cowardly exit; again dodging media cameras, scrutiny and a live audience. It also remains to be seen if indeed Dr. Minnis will return as the Leader of the Opposition, given his decisive loss as leader.
With his New Day was the theme guiding his first declarations to Bahamians as the fifth prime minister of the Commonwealth, Brave Davis assured there is no easy work ahead, but pledged results with the Bahamian people remaining the PLP’s north star.
“There is much work to be done; but I know that by working together, we can succeed and build the kind of prosperous, independent Bahamas that our founding fathers dreamed for us. It will not happen overnight, but with steady progress, we will get there. I pray God’s blessings and guidance upon us all, and in the words of St. Francis, “make us instruments of your peace; where there is discord, let me bring union; where there is doubt, let me bring faith; where there is despair, let me bring hope; where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
I thank God for having blessed us with this beautiful country, and the bountiful birthright which we have inherited.”
Independents and other political parties made more of an impression in the 2021 national poll than ever before, however none was able to breakthrough to earn a seat at the parliamentary table.
“We didn’t step forward to become famous or for self-recognition. We didn’t step forward for our own families to be victimized and threatened. We didn’t step forward for our names to be lied on and smeared.We stepped forward because we believed and still do in the Bahamian people,” said Lincoln Bain, leader of the COI, which in its debut rolled in as the third most popular party, he added, “We will continue this fight because we are not a flash in the frying pan organization. We will continue the fight until EVERY Bahamian has benefited from our #NaturalResources.”
The election was observed by CARICOM observers led by former Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding.
Official General Election results are still being processed by the Parliamentary Registration Department.
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