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Entrepreneurs ‘deserve more respect’

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Incubator entrant: entrepreneur Carl Vincent, left, shows David Burt, the Premier, some of his work

Calling small and medium-sized businesses the “lifeblood of our economy”, Erica Smith said the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation is committed to establishing entrepreneurship as a legitimate career choice.

Ms Smith, executive director of the BEDC, was speaking as the organisation introduced the eight entrepreneurs chosen to participate in the 12-month Enterprise Bermuda Incubator programme.

Enterprise Bermuda supports entrepreneurs by providing office space and equipment, access to mentors, and expert business advice.

Participants, who must establish that there is a market for their product or service, meet regularly with their BEDC officer, attend events and workshops, and participate in programmes designed to aid their progress.

The BEDC’s objective is to assist Government in encouraging economic growth for Bermuda’s local small and medium-sized businesses.

“Hopefully, people will begin to see small businesses and entrepreneurship as more than a hustle that people do part-time,” Ms Smith said. “I don’t think entrepreneurs are given the respect they need. It takes a lot of guts, it takes determination, and also being comfortable taking a risk, to become an entrepreneur, to become self-employed.

“A vast amount of businesses in Bermuda are small and medium-sized — they are the lifeblood of our economy. A lot of the services we receive as consumers, from groceries, to medical care, to clothing stores, are from small and medium-sized businesses. All of those businesses are contributing to the health of our country.

“The BEDC is committed to changing the paradigm of what it means to be an entrepreneur. Some people are natural entrepreneurs, but it can be taught as well.”

Carl Vincent and Fiona Douglas, participants in Enterprise Bermuda, expressed their appreciation for the support and guidance they have received from the BEDC since entering the programme in January.

Mr Vincent and his business partner, Leanne Evans, will launch grocery delivery service DropIt Delivery next month. He describes the business as “Lindo’s grocery store, online”.

Shoppers will order and pay online for groceries selected from the Lindo’s inventory and then have the goods delivered or pick them up.

Mr Vincent, 25, describes Enterprise Bermuda as “awesome, a dream.

“We applied because the BEDC fulfilled all of our needs in one, swift shot,” he said.

“Whenever you are having a bad day, you can pop into one of the offices here, speak to someone, and your day turns around after you receive good advice.

“It’s like having a big brother to help you with your homework all the time.”

Ms Douglas has launched Care Connect Bermuda (www.careconnectbermuda.com), a service designed to help people find care and assistance for their ageing loved ones by bridging the gap between the community and the resources available to assist. They might include how to find a caregiver, or simply understanding what resources are out there and how to apply for them.

Ms Douglas, who has a licensed practical nurse certification, earned a master’s degree in public health organisation and policy, and global health studies, from the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

She completed the eight-week Entrepreneurship 101 course with the BEDC last year.

“At the time, the incubator programme was just finishing up the first cohort,” Ms Douglas recalls. “My personal mentor, Aderonke Bademosi-Wilson, encouraged me to apply for this cohort and when I got the email to say I was in I was both surprised and grateful.

“They have provided me with space for meetings, and access to the wealth of information in each individual here like marketing techniques and financial planning. It’s just the best.”

The other six participants in the incubator programme, and their ventures are:

Marquis Caines: founder of Aye Yo! Bermuda, a tourism app designed to provide information about the island, including interactive video and tours of local establishments.

Lakeisha Wolffe: founder of A New Life Consulting, which provides support for the physically challenged inclusive of in-home care, information on accessible locations, and services that support people with physical challenges.

Arianna Hodgson: creator of Yummy Mummy, which makes organic, locally sourced homemade food for toddlers.

Sandra Dill: chief executive officer of EDcellerate, an educational and college consultancy providing college prep coaching, and assisting students to find the “best fit” colleges for them inclusive of the application process, test-taking and entrance essays.

Nadia Laws: owner of Media Maven public relations firm, an award-winning, boutique communications and media consultancy with a heart-centred approach to doing business.

Kim Caisey: founder of KIM’s List, an online resource for children’s activities and events designed to provide parents with a network of educational resources, recreational activities, products and services that benefit the development of their children.

Business focus: David Burt, the Premier, introduces the new cohort of the Enterprise Bermuda Incubator, which includes eight new entrepreneurs (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Start-up enthusiasm: Erica Smith, the BEDC executive director, speaks at the announcement of the entrepreneurs forming the second cohort of the Enterprise Bermuda Incubator