NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Approximately $10 million will be invested in incubation centers across New Providence, Exuma, and Grand Bahama in the coming year. The almost completed Tourism Development Corporation Incubation Center on Bay Street is poised to house seven small and micro business startups.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments, and Aviation Chester Cooper, along with parliamentary colleagues and the board of directors for the Tourism Development Corporation, toured the nearly completed TDC Incubation Center on Bay Street, just east of East Street, on Thursday.
Led by TDC CEO Ian Ferguson, the tour showcased the retail space designed to accommodate seven small and micro business startups. This location is expected to be an all-Bahamian storefront managed by the Tourism Development Corporation, aimed at supporting and assisting new businesses catering to the interests of the almost 9 million visitors to the Bahamas.
Cooper praised the initiative for its innovative approach to introducing small businesses to a captive market on Bay Street while enticing visitors to explore east of East Street on Bay.
“What you see here is only the pilot project of what we will develop in this area (Nassau), in Grand Bahama, and in Exuma,” stated Cooper. “This project will feature creative arts, artists, and artisans who are innovating and developing ideas. For a period, they will occupy the space rent-free. Once they become stronger, we hope they will outgrow the space and move on to rented premises. By doing this effectively, we aim to turn small businesses into medium-sized and medium-sized businesses into large ones.”
Highlighting the natural synergy between his agency’s work and the Incubation Center, Executive Chairman of the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation, Leroy Major, MP, emphasized: “I believe without a shadow of a doubt that this will be a game-changer because most of the incubation centers we have now in place are over the hill.”
Chairman of the Tourism Development Corporation, Rafique Symonette, hailed the project as one of the defining tasks in TDC’s mission to empower Bahamians entering the tourism space.
“For far too long, tourism entrepreneurs have been left behind to bootstrap their way to the top. The TDC is now coming through to be that lifeline to help tourism entrepreneurs move to the next stage. We see this as an exciting development and a way to grow this to the next step.”
Cooper also highlighted the opportunity for various government entities to partner in assisting the startups utilizing the incubation centers throughout the country. Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Economic Affairs Wade Watson, MP, pledged the support of the Small Business Development Center and pointed out that the incubation model is well-suited for young Bahamians interested in tech-related tourism initiatives, another aspect under this remit.
The Incubation Center east of East Street is the pilot for several planned full Innovation Incubation Centers on New Providence, Grand Bahama, and Exuma in the upcoming year, representing an investment of approximately $10 million. The Tourism Development Corporation will manage these centers upon completion.