The Project Planning and Development Department (PPDD) evolved out of the Business Services Division in April 2011.  The re-configuration was an executive decision to bring focus to the increasing demands for Business Advice, Business Coaching, Crafting of Business Plans, and in short, the entire spectrum of Business Care that is sought by the general public.  With the splitting of a department, there were some redundancies at first, resulting in both departments having responsibility for conducting similar activities (e.g. conducting and participating in seminars and workshops).  For this reason, some of the documentation, facts and statistics found in this document, may also be found in the briefing document of the Business Services Department.

The Entrepreneurial Training & Business Development and Business Outreach components remained with the Project Planning Department.  A full-fledged Research Unit is envisaged which will help to make complete the spectrum of Small-Business Care; the only missing component will be Finance.  We now operate a comprehensive department, designed to facilitate the development and survival of Entrepreneurs and business Enterprises. The Department, comprising of a complement of 5 staff, is responsible for developing business ideas into projects and business plans, for possible funding by lending institutions.

The Department has a staff complement of five Mr. Lester Stuart: Senior Manager, department head, Mrs. Deidre Miller: Sr. Asst. Manager; Mr. Hugh Rahming: Sr. Business Services Officer; Mr. Keno Archer: Junior Business Officer; Ms. Otaine Woodside: Secretary

Other functions of this department include preparing project proposals and business profiles to be used as templates for prospective Entrepreneurs, Academia, Government Ministries or Financial Institutions.  Additionally, the department is responsible for identifying viable business ideas that can be developed into successful enterprises.  Such ideas may come from BAIC personnel, online, or the general public.

The department also receives from clients (at an increasing rate), their already developed business plans, for reviewing, critiquing and validating.  Many clients do not wish that we write their plans, but desire only that we determine their viability and then give our seal of approval.

TRAINING SEMINARS

EXTERNAL TRAINING SEMINARS (for capacity building and institutional strengthening)

Conducting seminars, business training workshops, Lecture Series, Liaising with representatives of Financial Institutions (Banks, Insurance Companies, Credit Unions, Venture Capital Agencies), and participating in School’s Career Fairs, are part and parcel of the overall portfolio of the department.

INTERNAL TRAINING SEMINARS

The Project Planning and Development Department continually initiates and executes crash-course training sessions for its staff.  In September of 2012, the department initiated (in conjunction with the HR Department) a Business Plan Writing Seminar for its 5 member team.  This was a 45 hour Training Course, spanning two weeks.  The staff of two departments, namely Agriculture and Project Planning met at the College of The Bahamas’ Continuing Education Facility on Moss Road, Oakes Field, to participate in this workshop.  This was a pro bono arrangement with COB, as they were happy to partner with us for this worthy cause.  There were seven (7) attendees and three presenters (Mr. Lester Stuart and Mr. Arnold Dorsett  -  BAIC, and Mr. Ian Rutherford – Bahamas Development Bank).

SITE VISITS

It is necessary at times for the Department to engage in site visits to determine the prospects of profitability for a business (associated with location), the feasibility of an expansion or a relocation exercise.  During the month of October 2012, there were numerous site visits to a well established businesses throughout New Providence, all desirous of expanding and relocating to other outlets (Factory Outlet) in the Gladstone Road Industrial Park.

JUMPSTART PROGRAM

The Department witnessed an influx of requests for business plans/profiles following the launch of the Jump-Start Program by the Government in mid 2011.  Under the program, prospective or existing entrepreneurs could obtain up to Seven Thousand Five Hundred ($7,500.00) in grant funding to start, develop or grow their business.  The PPDD was responsible for completing to date, (as at October 2012) more than 200 business profiles (free of charge) for clients from throughout The Bahama Islands.  This service continues since the program is on-going, even under the new Government Administration.  Budding entrepreneurs between the age of 18 – 30, (seeking to get started with a grant of $5000.00 from the Ministry of Youth and Culture), also visit the Corporation seeking technical assistance with their business interests.  To a limited extent, the department has assisted with the Ministry of Youth’s Self-Starter Program as well.

BUSINESS PLANS

The past two quarters were characterized by a modest increase of Business Plan Requests to the Project Planning and Development Department.  This department is comprised of a small team of multi-talented professionals, most of whom multi-task and fill numerous departmental roles.  It must be stated that a Business Profile that was developed for the Jumpstart and Self Start Programs are different from the Business Plan.  The profile is a truncated, scaled down version of a plan, comprising an Executive Summary, Marketing Strategies, Cash Flow Analysis, and Financial Projections.  The Business Plan is a detailed document, highlighting the aforementioned profile items, along with Market Analysis, Environmental Impact Assessment, Financial Analysis, Depreciation Schedule, Revenue Steam Analysis, Financial Ratios – IRR, NPV, Sensitivity Analysis,  Balance Sheet, Income Statement, Cash Flow Analysis, Debt Service Ratios, Forecasts and projections, Loan Repayment and Amortization Schedule.

BUSINESS ADVICE AND COACHING/COUNSEL

From time to time the department receives numerous telephone calls and spontaneous visits from persons seeking information on pricing an item or service, sourcing funds for their projects, marketing, or requesting a sample business plan.  BAIC and in particular the PPDD maintains a close and cordial relationship with key personnel at the Bahamas Development Bank, Venture Capital Fund, and at numerous banks, and as such, we are able to point clients in the right direction.  Over the past 6 months, there have been numerous referrals from a number of commercial banks.

AFFILIATES AND PARTNERS

BAIC has sought to develop an authorized register of sorts, listing small business enterprises  (SMEs) as its de facto partners and affiliates.  The Department refers clients to such SMEs when it cannot meet the desired needs.  The department specializes in small and medium size enterprises and completes plans in approximately 30 – 45 days.  If clients wish to have their plans completed in less time, or wish to enter into a franchise arrangement, or to establish a large company that would have national implications, significant environmental impact, game changing impetus for the industry, or life transforming results for many, we may refer such requests to the Bahamas Investment Authority (Office of the Prime Minister), or to another company.

   DEPARTMENT OF LANDS AND SURVEY

Increasingly, the Department of Lands and Surveys is forwarding its clients to BAIC for Business Plan Development, so that they may substantiate their claims for the procurement of Crown Land, throughout The Bahamas.

BAHAMAS DEVELOPMENT BANK

The Bahamas Development Bank (BDB) is continually referring its clients who visit their office (for financial assistance) to BAIC for a Business Plan. The interview process of BAIC is detailed, comprehensive and rigorous, and satisfies most of the requirements of BDB.

BAHAMAS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce has instituted a small business programme-SBP (post May 7th, 2012) as an attempt to mobilize its efforts to take its message to small businesses (and erase the current perception that the Chamber is only for the elite).  Head of the SBP has pledged to liaise with the PP&DD to have prospective member companies attend our business empowerment sessions and our workshops (instead of them reinventing the wheel).

 MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE & MARINE RESOURCES

The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources has used the department extensively in the past for information relating to business plans, technical assistance and project planning (Agribusiness EXPO – from 2008 to 2012).

 

PROCESS MAPPING - THE BUSINESS PLAN PROCESS

The business plan process starts with the appointment.  Clients are assigned a time when they will be seen by a member of the department.  Tuesdays and Thursdays are the designated days for scheduled client visits, and the remaining days of the week is reserved for writing the plan.  Impromptu client visits are not encouraged, but are accommodated. This policy does not hold for Family Island Clients, who may visit at anytime and will receive immediate assistance.

It takes approximately 30 – 45 days to complete a business plan (not to be confused with a business profile – a condensed business plan, which takes half the time).  This is equivalent to about 10 man hours, and is calibrated from the time clients complete their application process – comprising the application form and the required check-listed items (that are relevant to their business).

Following the first interview, each client receives a letter thanking him for his interest and reminding him that we await (over the next 15 days) the check listed items before we begin writing the plan.  Waiting is necessary as a number of clients do not return following the first comprehensive discussion to share with them the nature of entrepreneurship (pitfalls and possibilities).  If the items are not received, a follow-up and final letter is sent (see attached).

Each application form has an attached list of 31 items.  Six (6) to ten (10) items may apply to any one business proposal.

Once all items are received (or the majority of items – enough for us to detect commitment, passion, and a decided interest to test the entrepreneurial waters), we begin the plan.

PROCESS MAPPING - THE BUSINESS PLAN PROCESS

Each day brings new and exciting challenges to the department, as on any given day spontaneous visits may occur by persons who are sent by Banks, Members of Parliament, or those  driven by passion and a desire to succeed; or those who learn of our services via the internet, or those who are propelled by   the inspiration of desperation.  Irrespective of the reason for the visit, the department is always staffed with competent Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who are able to intelligently engage the diverse public on a wide cross-section of business issues/principles from financial analysis, to marketing strategies, to financial projections, to research.

Due to limited, if any, national publicity and promotions, It is our view that BAIC like the department, is similar to Inagua – still “the best-kept secret in The Bahamas.”  We see it as our challenge to change this perception.