As government officials work to safely re-open the nation’s economy, many businesses on Grand Bahama are keen to resume rebuilding their operations. This sentiment is especially true for the many companies set to benefit from the Restoring Industry, Sustaining Employment (RISE) Grant Programme.
RISE is a partnership initiative implemented by The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited (GBPA), and Mercy Corps, a global humanitarian organization with funding support from the American Red Cross and Bacardi Limited. The program awards recovery grants of up to $10K to qualifying businesses on Grand Bahama affected by Hurricane Dorian.
Despite the recent COVID-19 Emergency Orders, partners of the RISE grant initiative have continued to receive, review and approve applications, providing business restoration funding for companies negatively impacted by last year’s Hurricane Dorian. To date, nearly 140 businesses have received economic recovery grant funding through RISE.
GBPA Director Henry St. George explains, “The RISE team has had to adapt its programme significantly in order to comply with the Government’s CV-19 Emergency Orders, but we have been able to continue to vet and review applications. Given the lockdown made sourcing goods and labour for the repair of businesses a challenge, the disbursements of new grants have been on hold up until now. We are delighted to be able to restart the grant award process with the selection of a further 76 businesses in our latest cohort, who collectively are due to receive approximately $725,000. We are extremely proud of this accomplishment and look forward to continuing to help re-establish the island’s small business sector.”
“With another hurricane season looming, it is essential we move forward with business recovery efforts despite challenges created in the midst of COVID-19,“ says Paula Miller, Mercy Corps Country Director for The Bahamas. “We know that these small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the island’s economy and the support we provide them now is critical to their ability to prepare for and withstand future disasters.”
The positive effects of the grant are already being felt across the small business community in Grand Bahama. Grant recipient Allison McBride, a business owner in the Downtown area, who suffered nearly 4ft of floodwater in her store, expressed her appreciation for the grant. “After Hurricane Dorian, our home, cars, and business were devastated. We were encouraged to apply to many business entities for assistance. Thankfully the RISE team awarded us a much-needed grant that would assist with the purchase of machines, inventory and payment towards the arrears on our rent. Dynasti Graphix and the Copy Center Team would like to express our thanks and appreciation to all of the RISE partners for their support. May God’s blessings continue to flow through your endeavors.”
Through the RISE programme, recipient businesses received Finance, Marketing, and Disaster Preparedness and Recovery training to enhance necessary business skills. The program also offered guidance on the development of mitigation strategies to reduce the impact of future disasters such as the recent storm.
“Bacardi is proud to support the ongoing recovery of Grand Bahama and the small businesses that are so critical to the island’s economy and people’s well-being,” said Rick Wilson, SVP of Corporate Responsibility for Bacardi. “As a family-owned business, we are heartened and encouraged by the personal stories of RISE grant recipients who are on the road to rebounding from such a challenging chapter in their lives.”
In February, the RISE team held a workshop in East Grand Bahama to encourage local business owners to apply. The session was well attended, and now multiple applicants from the area have been awarded RISE grants. Leland Laing Jr., a resident of East Grand Bahama and the owner of Highpoint Beach Bar & Grill in High Rock, said, “I was so happy that the RISE Grant assisted businesses across all of Grand Bahama, especially those in areas hardest hit by the storm. East Grand Bahama businesses were given one-on-one assistance during the application process, and the impact on our community from these newly awarded grants will be significant. I am hoping it won’t be long now until I will be serving my famous ribs again to our happy customers!”
Further updates on the RISE initiative will be forthcoming, covering new application deadlines and additional COVID-19 assistance.
Businesses interested in applying for a RISE Grant should visit the website at www.risegbpa.com for more information.