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BAIC's Road To Bahamian Entrepreneurship
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Posted by:May 23rd 2006, 11:18:19 am
Fig Tree News TeamMay 23, 2006 08:01
BAIC's Road to Entrepreneurship

With (Bahamas Agricultural and Industry Corporation] BAIC's aim to produce 500 entrepreneurs this year, Minister Peet said that it is important that Bahamians everywhere 'step up to the plate'.

Albert Whylly, 55, was a little surprised to learn that he and Bradley Forbes were the only two men to enrol in the BAIC shell craft course last month. But at last Thursday's graduation that surprise turned into pride as the duo were highlighted by Financial Services Minister, Vincent Peet, who was present at the event held at the Foster B. Pestaina Centre.

Mr. Whylly and Mr. Forbes, called "pioneers" by the minister, learned that they were in fact the first men to sign up for the craft courses that were held all over the country.

The men, along with 32 other classmates, were congratulated not just for their participation in the course, but for the important role that they were now playing in what the minister and other BAIC officials termed "domestic investment."

The 10-day course that taught the graduates to convert beach-side shells into coveted jewellery, decadent lamps and ornate centre pieces, was also what was called a lesson in economic empowerment.

"The course empowers you so that you can become employers as opposed to just employees," said Minister Peet who stated that the economic growth of the country should prompt many citizens to become employers.

"It really would be a travesty... if Bahamian business persons do not step forward and store the benefit of these investments," he said.

With BAIC's aim to produce 500 entrepreneurs this year, Minister Peet said that it is important that Bahamians everywhere "step up to the plate."

The minister spoke of the vast potential of such products for exportation and Bahamian industry. Alerting the graduates that their products could be sold locally as well as exported to the capital, he ventured into the possibility of sale on the international market as well, alluding to the pride that 'Made in The Bahamas' labels would invoke in citizens who have turned plentiful and cheap raw materials into world-class, marketable products.

BAIC (Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation), an organ of the Ministry of Finance, works toward creating Bahamian entrepreneurs. The corporation organizes several craft courses around the country throughout the year.

By last Thursday, Minister Peet had travelled to the craft course convocations in Andros, Bimini, Exuma and Cat Island. The Grand Bahama course had been filled to capacity forcing the corporation to break it up into morning and evening sessions. Thus far, 124 participants have graduated from the course.

BAIC officials, family and friends gathered at the hall to wish the graduates well. A row of tables on each side of the hall displayed the delicately crafted straw and shell work of the course participants.

Marco City MP Pleasant Bridgewater joined the minister in congratulating the class and noted that their participation in the course demonstrated a commitment to "the culture and things Bahamian."

Course trainer April Fox-Martin, a shell craft instructor who travels around the country teaching the course, pointed out the variety of shells used in the pieces. The cockle, dove, bleeding tooth, angel wings, sunrise tellin, bubble and flamingo tongue shells that decorated the pieces, she said, were all shells of the Caribbean.

Before the event was over, the minister had mandated BAIC to look into introducing a craft programme in the schools, after elaborating on the enormous potential of craft work in industry.

The 34 graduates were awarded certificates and the graduates in turn presented BAIC officials with tokens of their appreciation.

By THEA RUTHERFORD, FN Features Editor

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