The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has executed a $500,000 grant to launch the Bahamian handicraft industry into cyberspace. Signed between the IDB and Bahamas Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC), it will allow artisans to do business online.
“We see on a daily basis the significant improvement in the quality and variety of products produced by the Bahamas National Craft Association members,” said IDB country representative Oscar Spencer.
“We therefore had to find a way to channel resources from the private sector arm of the Bank through the Chamber of Commerce and BAIC to the membership of the Association. We are pleased that we have been able to find that mechanism.”
The strategy of the project is to develop a programme that complements the Government’s effort to rally the industry around a structured approach to the establishment of industry standards, marketing, and addressing the over-reliance on imports.
Its primary focus will be the development and launch of a virtual platform with functionalities to support and facilitate the marketing, sales, and distribution of Bahamian manufactured handcraft souvenirs via the Internet.
“This project is going to modernise the way we sell our products to the world,” said Chamber president Khaalis Rolle.
“The ability for us to sell our products online is a significant coup for The Bahamas. We thank the IDB for being so generous with this donation.”
Also attending the press conference were BAIC executive chairman Edison Key, assistant general manager in charge of the Handicraft Development and Marketing Department Donnalee Bowe, BNCA president Martha Smith, South Andros Handicraft Association president Emily Rahming, Ministry of Tourism’s Visitor Experience director Geneva Cooper, and project manager Don Demeritte.
“These are exciting times to be a part of the growing Bahamian handicraft industry,” said BAIC executive chairman Edison M Key.
“Many doors of opportunity are opening for us to tap into those many millions of dollars used to import craft products for our tourists and residents.
“It is our hope that in short order the vast majority of those millions of dollars will be flowing directly into the pockets of our artisans instead of out of the country.”
He underscored the timeliness of the project coming when the multi-million dollar craft centre downtown Nassau is nearing completion.”
By Gladstone Thurston
Bahamas Information Services