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Entrepreneurs have what it takes, says Fahy

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Hamilton Mayor Charles Gosling speaks about the excitement of late night shopping and the Christmas holiday tree lighting(Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Global Entrepreneurship Week is under way in Bermuda, aiming to reach out to the nation’s most promising business and creative minds.

Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, announced the start of this year’s initiative at a proclamation ceremony in Hamilton yesterday lunchtime.

“Bermuda’s entrepreneurs have what it takes to excel both locally and on the global stage,” Senator Fahy said from the steps of City Hall.

Now in its eighth year, GEW has flourished into an international phenomenon — with roughly 10,000 activities slated to take place in 160 countries in 2015.

Activities scheduled for Bermuda between now and early December include social media workshops, networking events, a start-up weekend and the Rocket Pitch investment competition.

Prior to Sen Fahy’s address, a series of speakers shared their views on how to boost the local economy — bookended by a hearty performance by town crier Ed Christopher.

Hamilton mayor Charles Gosling quoted Albert Einstein, when talking about the importance of persistence for budding entrepreneurs: “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

Pat Phillip-Fairn of the Bermuda Tourism Authority said that the BTA had invested $1.7 million in home-grown ideas since its inception 18 months ago.

“Everyday Bermudians pitch their big ideas to us, and the best ideas are funded,” she added.

Katherine Fisher, winner of the 2013 Rocket Pitch competition, spoke about life since her victory.

Combining her passions for upholstery and technology, Mrs Fisher runs Gotcha Covered, a Pembroke-based business which manufactures custom motorcycle and scooter seats in 20 minutes.

“Mine was a pipe dream to change the way I do business,” said the Canadian entrepreneur, who has already added a second location to her company after 18 months. “I think that when I did the Rocket Pitch, I surprised people.”

Bermuda Economic Development Corporation chairman Nick Kempe expressed his desire to nurture an “entrepreneurial ecosystem” on the Island.

“I like pipe dreams, and the worst thing for a pipe dream is not sharing it,” said Mr Kempe. “You need to get your idea out in the open, and that’s where you’re going to find your validation.”

Following the proclamation, Sen Fahy told The Royal Gazette that Bermuda was beginning to rediscover its financial mojo after seven difficult years.

“I think Bermuda became complacent from around 2008,” he said. “The retail sector suffered not so much from the credit crunch, but from the number of people who left because of previous government policies. And that’s what caused the decline of Bermuda’s economy. That’s a simple fact.

“In the long-term, we need to attract more people to come to Bermuda and set up their businesses here. But we’ve started to turn a corner.”

For a full schedule of GEW events in Bermuda, see www.gew.bm

Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs