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OWN Bahamas Announces Winners

CEO of Island Luck Sebas Bastian unveiled 10 awardees yesterday who were successful in his recently launched OWN Bahamas initiative.

According to Mr. Bastian, the organization received 1,057 submissions from applicants seeking to establish their own business.

However, only 10 candidates were granted the opportunity to “own a part of their Bahamas.”

“I’m pleased to announce that the 10 candidates are one step closer to achieving their life-long dreams and the true results of ownership,” Mr. Bastian said.

“We live in an economy where you have a better chance of winning the lottery twice than getting a loan from a bank. The importance of this program is to help against that challenge that we face as Bahamians and I am 100 per cent committed to empowering as many Bahamians as I can. We cannot do it alone.”

The OWN Bahamas program and grant fund was launched on March 5 with a goal to empower Bahamians through entrepreneurship.
According to Mr. Bastian, winners will receive $5,000 – $25,000 in grant funds including an all-expense paid trip to the Canton Trade Fair in Guangzhou, China.

At the fair, the group will be granted the opportunity to learn and conceptualize new business ideas in various areas.
In addition, each awardee will receive free radio and newspaper advertisement for a year, one year garbage collection from United Sanitation, two years’ worth of free internet and cable provided by the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) and free graphic designing for logo and marketing collateral needs.

The group will also undergo a two-week course at the College of The Bahamas and an incubator mentorship program at the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) for ongoing assistance in business planning, marketing, and financial responsibility.

Mr. Bastian said he believes the country’s hiked crime rate is due to a lack of opportunities for Bahamians.
He noted that OWN should ultimately help to reduce crime and the unemployment percentage rate.

The slate of winners, who were eager to give their testimonies, includes Youlette Etienne (Vennie’s Natural Factory), Gregory Cooper (Recycled Waste Products), Morgan Fernander (Bahari), Shacqueel Coleby (Pulpy), Laron Kelly (A+ Exterminators), Tahj Seymour (DigiePal), Theo and Bernice McClain (Prickle Air Fresheners), Sherell Johnson (Native Way), and Cody Smith (All-Purpose Handyman Service and Tool Rental).

Youlette Etienne of Vennie’s Natural Factory said her business is geared towards producing organic coconut products.
“I do everything manually with help of family members. Right now the demand for my products is more than I can produce. It’s been a real struggle to find funding, so, with this happening so quickly and having the opportunity to go to China to learn a lot more is phenomenal. I haven’t even slept,” Ms. Etienne said.

Laron Kelly of A+ Exterminators who is also a winner from Lower Bogue, Eleuthera, said the OWN initiative is certainly life-changing and will help to employ persons on the Family Islands.

“My goal is to make extermination affordable. It’s much needed, especially on the islands. We’re pushing new territory. My goal is to have my business set up and ready for the growth of The Bahamas,” Mr. Kelly said.

“I’m looking to acquire a lot of homes so I’m going to need workers to maintain these homes and buildings,” he added.

This is the first phase of a three-phase project, according to Mr. Bastian. The second phase will take place in July.
Candidates can submit their applications as early as June. The third phase is set for October.

The group leaves with Mr. Bastian for the Canton Trade Fair on April 13.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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