REMARKS BY HONOURABLE KYE RYMER
MINISTER FOR TRANSPORTATION, WORKS AND UTILITIES
AND 5TH DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE
GROUND BREAKING CEREMONY – FIRST STEP ENTREPRENEURIAL PROGRAMME ECONOMIC ZONE - HUNTUM’S GHUT
OCTOBER, 19TH 2020
A pleasant Good Day to each and every one.
My dear neighbours of the Fifth District, together, we are in a pact. When I asked you to make me your representative about twenty (20) months ago, I made a solemn promise that I would work hard for you and I would work with you so that together we can bring District 5 Alive.
You know me; my word is my bond.
So, today, we are here to bring one of our shared dreams to reality. We are breaking the ground for the facilities that will house the “First Step Programme for Entrepreneurs” here in Huntum’s Ghut.
To summarise this programme, with the available land, we are continuing on a vision by past representatives. In acquiring this land, a community centre was envisioned; but as a result of the available funds at the time, a basketball court was built, and then eventually the bathroom.
Today, this Government is putting this vision into reality, with the Fifth (5th) District Economic Zone-Vision meets Reality.
Now, before I move along, I must acknowledge the Minister of Finance for believing in our vision, believing in our people and making the monies available to have and to move forward with this project.
In this First Step Programme for Entrepreneurs, in Huntum’s Ghut, The Economic Zone, we are building commercial warehouses. Each of the three (3) warehouses will be able to accommodate up to six (6) businesses.
Applicants will have to develop a business plan which will be used for the selection process. We will work closely with the Department of Trade to offer assistance to bring your dreams to reality. Starting a business is much more than the space in which you will operate, much more than the brick and mortar. Opening a business entails - pinpointing and providing a needed service for the community, it entails manpower, and it entails accounting, marketing, financing and so much more. Your Government is providing a stepping stone for you to make your entrepreneurial dreams a reality.
This idea was borne from the concept of the Palm Gove Shopping Centre, where BVIslanders were able to own their own businesses, at a fraction of the market value and the market operating cost. Offering commercial spaces with low overheads, gave BVIslanders the opportunity to start their business.
Successful applicants will be required to pay a small user’s fee that will go towards the upkeep of the facilities. The dream is that these businesses will blossom and they will outgrow these spaces. As they spread their wings and move to bigger accommodation elsewhere, room will be created for new entrepreneurs to move in and also birth their small business idea.
So, in the first instance, we are helping the entrepreneurs in our community to set up and to grow their businesses. In this investment, we are adding to the development of our community.
Our community will now have an economic zone hosting commercial businesses that will bring goods and services closer to your door, and – very important – it will create jobs and offer spin-off economic opportunities for the people of the community.
Huntum’s Ghut has a number of businesses already; we have bars, restaurants, supermarkets, a shoe repair shop, electronic stores and much more; boasting very ambitious residents here in the Fifth (5) District.
I always like to refer to my good friend, a hard working young man Clarence, better known as CR, he sells smoothies right here. CR can now conduct his business in a secured space. These warehouses would allow him to turn his own key. So, CR, get your business plan ready and all my other friends and neighbours in the community.
I hear the passion of wanting to make a positive contribution, yes... I listen; we listen; this Government listens. This is your time, and this Economic Zone is for you!
One of the things I want to impress upon applicants is that you have to be innovative and creative with your business ideas. If everyone is in the same business then it is tougher to succeed. You need to differentiate your business. And we are aiming for a diversified mixture of businesses and offerings here at the Economic Zone.
As a need of this community and all communities, we must make available community services; therefore I am dedicating one of the spaces to house a mini library. Within the space I foresee a need for a food pantry that will be available for our neighbours who encounter hardship, during these ‘Covid times’.
I want to be clear that this First Step Programme for Entrepreneurs is not a handout it is a step up. That is why there are conditions attached to these spaces, such as a qualification process for applicants and the user fee.
This is about helping people to become empowered. It is about working with entrepreneurs to help them kick-start their ventures – helping them to take that crucial first step.
We know how hard it is to get the ball rolling – but we also know that once you get the ball rolling there is no stopping.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to be a part of a Government that believes in our people.
Each of my colleagues, from the Honourable Premier, the other Ministers, even the Junior Ministers, we care about our people. We care about the communities of this Territory and we believe that Virgin Islanders need to be brought closer to the centre of our economy. We believe that you, the people of the Virgin Islands, must become empowered and equipped to become frontline businesses in the industries operating in our economy.
By this I mean that Virgin Islanders must own the businesses that drive our economy.
It has always bothered me when I hear that the BVI has a very high GDP and a per capita income that is high, but when we look at some of our communities and when we look at the challenges some of our people face to put food on their tables, it’s as if, we are living in a different universe.
I have no problem with foreign investment and foreigners investing; our economy needs that. There are some individuals and local families that own large thriving businesses and we are proud of you. But we need to elevate more families into this level of financial security.
We need to elevate more families to the point where they can live in a comfortable environment, where they can afford the basic amenities, and where they can afford to send their children to school and university.
I know I am not the only one who feels this way. It is time to start investing in the development of our greatest resource; our people - and the time is now to create opportunities for them to own a stake in building the economy.
We all know that small businesses are the backbone of growing the economy, so we must give our entrepreneurs the support they need to overcome the obstacles in their way for them to succeed.
For every successful business that we are able to nurture, we are taking charge of creating a positive destiny for future generations of BVIslanders. We are sowing the seeds of hope that their tomorrows will be brighter and more secure than yesterday.
This is our mission and this is just another piece of the puzzle in Bringing District 5 ALIVE – and indeed, it is how we will make our BVI a stronger, more resilient Territory.
Today I am overjoyed that we are able to break ground for the Fifth (5) District First Step Programme for Entrepreneurs here in Huntum's Ghut. I hope it will be the incubator for economic growth and empowerment for our people, and I hope its success stories will inspire all Virgin Islanders and all Districts to follow suit.
Together, by supporting one another, I know we can and we will achieve great things.
May God continue to bless our Territory and may He continue to lift up his Virgin Islands people. Please continue to stay safe during this pandemic. I thank you.