**Sen. the Hon. James Smith**

The Bahamas Venture Capital Fund has been launched by Minister of State for Finance James Smith.

Established as a vehicle to assist small Bahamian entrepreneurs, the Fund will be administered by Gomez Partners and Co. which firm will be responsible for handling and processing the business plans of the potential entrepreneurs. Firm officials say that they bring to the fund strong expertise in business consulting and accounting and that they intend to dedicate a substantial and effective part of their human resources to ensure the fund’s smooth and efficient operation.

A Board has been established to oversee the fund and will have responsibility for determining the success of each applicant within 30 days of application. Members include: Edison Sumner, Director and Chief Operations Officer of Montague Securities; Michael Cunningham, Vice President of ColinaImperial; Chester Cooper, Chief Executive Officer designate of British American Insurance; Johnny Outten, President of the Small Business Association; and Olivia Saunders, Senior Business Lecturer at the College of The Bahamas.

The Venture Capital Fund will take up small equity positions and as the business expands, the equity can be purchased by the entrepreneurs or sold to other persons with their agreement. The government allocated $1 million to the fund during the 2004/2005 fiscal year and an additional $1 million was allocated in the draft 2005/2006 budget, recently presented to Parliament.

The Ministry of Finance points out that this Venture Capital Fund is part of a series of measures and undertakings by the Government of The Bahamas to assist potential small business persons to get into business as well as to assist such business persons to succeed.