NASSAU, BAHAMAS – As the OWN Bahamas Foundation ups the ante to support local entrepreneurs through a 2019 expansion, an online survey of OWN Talks participants reveals startling statistics about the state of entrepreneurship in The Bahamas.
The survey was distributed to over 1,500 participants in the foundation’s popular motivational speakers’ event which draws crowds numbering in the thousands.
Four- hundred and ninety-four (494) entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs completed the survey with responses from every constituency in The Bahamas except four.
When asked about their entrepreneurship, current business owners revealed that, on average, they have been in business for 1-3 years.
The top five industries for these entrepreneurs include general retail, food and beverage, hair, nails and cosmetics, culture and manufacturing.
For these entrepreneurs, the three biggest obstacles to starting their business were raising the start-up capital, the cost of doing business in The Bahamas and “government red tape,” in that order.
Once they had gotten over those hurdles, the top four challenges to their business’ growth were the cost of expansion, finding new customers, the ongoing cost of doing business in The Bahamas (license fees, taxes, energy costs etc.) and finding quality employees, respectively.
Marketing topped the list of the professional services most needed for these businesses with 72 per cent of participants acknowledging the need and 54 per cent stating that the lion’s share of their professional services spending goes to marketing.
Accounting came in a close second with 51 per cent of participants admitting to needing the service.
These business owners were overwhelmingly excited by the possibility of building a better life for their families—64 per cent indicated that this was the goal that motivated them to keep going with their business.
When asked what they would do differently if they could start their business over again, 35 per cent said they would have started sooner and 24 per cent said they would have raised more start-up capital.
As for those who have not yet become business owners, a lack of personal savings was the most common reason for not starting a business according to 52 per cent of the participants surveyed.
Regarding training, 58 per cent of respondents believe that sales and marketing are paramount for budding entrepreneurs to learn before starting a business while 56 per cent chose business management and 50 per cent chose business plan writing.
With these new insights, the OWN Bahamas Foundation is transitioning to an autonomous, board-governed organization. This independent board will manage the foundation’s giving and programmatic work.
Embracing its core values of empowering, educating, enabling and inspiring the local entrepreneurial community, the foundation’s mission of creating an ecosystem that supports and sustains entrepreneurship is the thrust of its 2019 programme timeline.
The non-profit will expand its flagship initiatives including its namesake and OWN Talks to the family islands and launch the first ever OWN Teach—new training programmes designed to fill the entrepreneurial skills gap in the area of technology.
OWN Bahamas will also expand its digital footprint with more consistent streaming of content, designed based on the needs of entrepreneurs and focused on supporting the foundation’s mission. These will include an online forum, newsletter, digital library, increased social feed, self-help endeavours, and its first-ever trade show.
“Our main goal is to assist Bahamians with financial support, mentorship, skills and business know-how, while advocating for the removal of barriers that may prevent small start-up businesses from succeeding,” said Sebastian Bastian, Island Luck’s CEO whose personal experience with the difficulty of starting and building a business in The Bahamas was the catalyst for the OWN Bahamas initiative.
“The OWN Bahamas Foundation was created to be the bridge between an entrepreneur’s dreams and realizing those dreams. This year we intend to focus on recalibrating the foundation so we can do an even better job of being that bridge.”
In 2015 the OWN Bahamas Foundation (http://www.ownyourbahamas.com/index.php) in conjunction with the IL Cares Foundation was launched. OWN Bahamas is an initiative focused on offering support to Bahamian entrepreneurs who have new and exciting ideas within existing or emerging industries.