BEDC picks Eve to partner on virtual market
A virtual market to help Bermudian entrepreneurs and small businesses establish a presence online, and remove the financial burden of doing so, has taken a step forward.
Jahde Eve, the founder of Code 441, who has helped Bermudian youngsters improve their technology skills during the past six years, has been selected by the Business Economic Development Corporation to partner in the building of a virtual market place.
Jamahl Simmons, chairman of the BEDC, said a virtual market allows businesses to have an online presence that increases their visibility internationally and promotes economic growth to smaller businesses, like vendors who typically would only be able to reach their customers in person on specified days.
He said it also removes the technical barrier for those unable to open a merchant account with the local banks, by allowing users of the market to take advantage of existing payment processing through the virtual market and removes the financial burden associated with the costs of building stand-alone websites.
Mr Simmons said: “Businesses like your favourite baker that you only see on specified vending days, the retailer that has unique products that we know and love, but do not have the online presence for you to find them consistently. The service provider that offers mobile massages, and the list goes on.
“The goal is not to limit who can access the virtual market, but to create another opportunity for Bermudian entrepreneurs to get their products into the hands of their customers.”
The BEDC team reviewed proposals from five vendors before selecting Mr Eve to partner with it to build the virtual market.
Mr Eve started Code 441 in 2014 with the goal to educate, inspire and equip Bermudian boys and girls with the skills and resources to pursue opportunities in technology. He has worked with partners to host Hackathons and training programmes and cams to support Bermudian youth.
Mr Eve said: “I started Code 441 because I recognised there was a need to support my fellow Bermudians who were interested in tech and programming. I know how it felt when I was looking for opportunities to hone my craft when I returned from university and there were not many options.
“I started the organisation to provide young people, interested in technology, with practical experience. Many of the students I have worked with have gone on to be part of large projects both locally and abroad, it is my goal to provide a similar work experience for other young Bermudians with this virtual market project.”
He added: “If it had not been for Covid-19 I would not have been on the island. I would normally have been in Silicon Valley working on start-ups and any number of projects, but now I have an opportunity to build a solution that will help my country and my fellow entrepreneurs.”
While, Mr Simmons said: “The proposal for the creation of the virtual market provided us with the opportunity to continue to support Bermuda entrepreneurship but also allowed us to help him to continue his mandate to empower and mentor young people of Bermuda by encouraging them to embrace the current tech marketplace as builders and content creators.
“For the BEDC this project is an opportunity to show how we can work collectively to solve a problem and empower our next generation simultaneously.”
David Burt, the Premier, said the Covid-19 pandemic had shown the need for online solutions for local entrepreneurs on the island.
He said: “In several meetings with the BEDC team and other stakeholders, including local entrepreneurs other businesses in the technology field and industry experts, it became apparent that a barrier to businesses operating online was the cost to get online and the difficulty opening a merchant account with one of the banks, which is a requirement to be able to transact locally online.”
“With a virtual market the opportunity exists to promote economic development in Bermuda by providing small businesses with access to an online platform that will allow them to sell their goods and services. In addition, to provide an alternative solution to businesses needing to establish their own payment processing solution.”
Mr Burt said the virtual market project was an example of the BEDC mission to “grow new and existing Bermuda businesses”.