It is my pleasure as the Acting Minister of Economic Development and Tourism to join the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation in announcing the formal launch of the Enterprise Bermuda Incubator Programme.
As some of you may know, the BEDC was established on January 20, 1981, with the mission of inspiring, informing, supporting and growing new and existing Bermuda businesses. This is done through a host of educational programmes, seminars and workshops; mentoring initiatives; networking opportunities; financing and much more. Over the last 37 years, the BEDC has assisted thousands of local Bermuda business owners and entrepreneurs – and today its passion for enhancing micro, small, and medium-sized businesses on the Island burns just as bright.
The Enterprise Bermuda Incubator Programme is the most recent example of how the BEDC is equipping local start ups and budding entrepreneurs with the tools to succeed in the 21st Century. Launched in February 2018, the scheme is intended to provide participants with an opportunity to take part in an intensive, nine-month development process whereby they can hone their business ideas and implement strategies for success.
This programme was launched as a pilot with the winners of the tenth annual Rocket Pitch competition, held on November 16, 2017. The participants include:
- Surlena Smith – Pitch Green Winner with her all-natural deodorant brand, Ponda Pits;
- Nakia Smith – Pitch Pink Winner whose Sip and Savor Bermuda food tours plan to offer visitors the chance to eat and drink like locals;
- Chris Phillips – Pitch Tech Winner whose mobile app, Dealio, alerts customers to the closest local deals;
- Tracey Hayward – Pitch Town Winner whose website, School Boxez, provides parents of children in middle and high school with school supplie
- Chaella (CHAYLA) Bradshaw-Douglas – Youth Pitch Winner whose vending machine business, Good Chew, aims to provide homemade, healthy snack alternatives to school students; and
- Cire’ Bean – Youth Pitch Runner Up whose online matching business, Pay-A-Kid, pairs young people between the ages of 13 and 18 with odd jobs;
BEDC will take these six talented Rocket Pitch winners through the process of developing and honing their business idea so they can best determine if it will work in Bermuda’s competitive marketplace and scale beyond Bermuda.
They will provide participants with complimentary access to BEDC’s educational courses and programmes; provide them with free and subsidized office space; as well as personalized mentoring with financial advisor, Bruce Sharpe, of Sharpe Financial Services Ltd.
That’s not all. The BEDC also uses its vast database of industry contacts to find participants pro-bono or subsidized services in areas such as marketing, accounting, legal support, and web development, which were all identified by the entrepreneurs in a recent needs assessment.
Last, but not least, those taking part in the 2018 Enterprise Bermuda Incubator Programme will meet one-on-one with BEDC’s Officers on a biweekly basis to provide updates and receive added encouragement and support.
It was determined several years ago that there was a need for a programme like this to help entrepreneurs get beyond the idea stage and bring their business solutions to fruition. The BEDC is hoping this pilot Incubator Programme will give participants all the resources they need to become successful entrepreneurs. So far the results from the initiative have been very promising. And facilitators have found that a majority of the participants are involved and engaged in the learning and development process.
Access to international opportunities is another core tenet of the Enterprise Bermuda Incubator. To further aid in their growth, as part of the Incubator programme, the BEDC has sponsored all six participants to take part in the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) in Istanbul, Turkey from Sunday, April 15 to Thursday, April 19. Each year the GEC gathers thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and other startup champions from more than 170 countries to identify new ways of helping founders start and scale new ventures around the world. Our local entrepreneurs will be able to use this opportunity to network, make partnerships and gather knowledge that will be invaluable to them in their business. Additionally, one participant, Mrs. Surlena Smith, the PitchGREEN winner, will be representing Bermuda in the Future Agro Challenge a few days earlier in Turkey, sharing her business pitch for all natural deodorant product Ponda Pits alongside other innovative environmental revolutions from around the globe.
The goal moving forward with the Enterprise Bermuda Incubator Programme is to make it available to new start-up business owners ready to take their operations to the next level. The next cohort of the scheme will start in January 2019. Applications with criteria for selection will be made available online, and for pick-up at the BEDC’s office in Sofia House, located on #48 Church Street, Hamilton, from September 1, 2018 until November 1, 2018.
At this time, I will turn it over to Jamillah Lodge, Acting Micro, Small, and Medium-Size Enterprise Director, who is the lead on this initiative, to say a few words.