Assistant Information Officer
Department of Information & Public Relations
Ms. Alexandra Durante of Pearls VI has been awarded the 2015 Business of the Year and Most Innovative Business of the Year.
Nine businesses vied for the titles as part of the competition held by the Department of Trade, Investment Promotion and Consumer Affairs following the 2015 Business of the Month initiative.
The competition was held at the Eileene L. Parsons Auditorium at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College on Monday, February 29.
As part of her winnings for the Most Innovative Business of the Year, Ms. Durante receives a cash prize of $5000.00 dollars for injection into her business; one hour of legal advice and service from Harneys, along with complimentary incorporation of one BVI company inclusive of all incorporation fees; and a free energy audit from the BVI Electricity Corporation.
Her winnings as the 2015 Business of the Year would be a $12,500.00 cash injection into her business from the Government of the Virgin Islands.
Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable D. Orlando Smith, OBE, while speaking on the outcome of the competition results stated, “I think the whole thrust for developing new and different types of businesses is working. I think that the Department of Trade, Investment Promotions and Consumer Affairs has done very well.”
Premier Smith added that he is also grateful for the enthusiasm of the other members of the community who have partnered with the Government to develop businesses like these. He said, “It bodes well for the community and for the Territory, because as these businesses develop and grow into larger businesses, they will also become a part of the economic development of the Territory.”
Premier Smith said he expects that as the winner, Ms. Durante’s sales will increase immediately. He added that in the long term, he also expects that she will be persistent and continue to develop her products so that she becomes a larger company with exports as the business continues to grow and become a part of the whole economic development and growth of the British Virgin Islands.
Ms. Durante said the next step for Pearls VI is to open a manufacturing plant and merge with her business partner Ms. Annie McPhail, to form the Eastern Caribbean Soap Co. and Annie McPhail Factory to export their products, as well as supply local hotels, villas and charter boats.
Pearls VI won the title of Business of the Month in October 2015 and has been in operation for the past five years. The business is noted for its beautiful locally handcrafted jewellery pieces, bath and body products, seasoning made with salt from Salt Island, as well as art works by local BVI artists. The business has also forged relationships with local producers in an effort to support and promote local products, ranging from locally made hot sauces, cane rum and guava berry wine to local books, painting and prints. Its Tortola and Virgin Gorda locations continue to make a small taste of the BVI available to locals and visitors alike.
The Business of the Year competition was the culmination of the Business of the Month promotion in 2015, designed to fuel the entrepreneurial spirit, spearheaded by the Department of Trade, Investment Promotion and Consumer Affairs.
Ms. Kristin Fraser of Trèfle Designs captured the People’s Choice Award. The other Business of the Year competitors were F & M Halal Outlet, Akiya Brewley Designs, Greencrete BVI, The Rock Café and Sam’s Piano Bar, Mi Amor Jewellers, Solé Day Spa and Bella Blooms.