And, the winner is… Michael Johnson became the first Family Island-based winner of the Deltec Young Entrepreneurs Award, which comes with a $10,000 investment in his aquaponic shrimp farm in Grand Bahama.
“I would’ve been surprised if my name wasn’t called,” Johnson said after DIYE chairman, Robert Turnquest announced him as the winner.
Johnson, along with 5 other finalists, competed in a pitch competition hosted by the Deltec Young Entrepreneurs Initiative (DIYE). According to Turnquest, Johnson’s win signifies a successful national effort to cast a wide net and attract young entrepreneurs from around the country.
“We hope that the winning entrepreneur, Michael Johnson, being from Grand Bahama, sends a positive statement that if you are an accomplished businessperson with an intriguing idea to solve a real-world problem in a profitable way, you too have a shot at being our next Deltec Young Entrepreneurs winner,” Turnquest said.
The Deltec Initiatives Foundation was conceptualized in 2013 to empower Bahamian youth across three pillars: entrepreneurship, the arts, and scholarship and education. The Deltec Initiatives for Young Entrepreneurs is a charitable effort that launched as part of the Foundation’s mission to empower and support young Bahamians with innovative ideas to grow their small- to medium-sized enterprises.
For the past six months, 6 finalists were mentored by Deltec executives-volunteers. They helped them to develop their business models, their pitch and introduced them to Deltec’s global network.
The grand finale occurred on Tuesday during a Shark Tank-format pitch competition, at which each finalist presented their business plan in 15-minute segments to a panel of judges, including Deltec Bank Chairman, Jean Chalopin; business mogul and The Bahamas’ Ambassador to Central America, Sebastian Bastian; Davinia Bain, businesswoman and co-founder of Crypto Isle; Henri Arslanian, author and global fintech keynote speaker; and Shayne Davis, an investment advisor.
After the points were tallied, BAMSI graduate and aquaponics farmer, Michael Johnson emerged victorious. His Blue Water Organic Farm is on the brink of pioneering the national seafood industry by providing fresh, sustainable seafood to locals and tourists through national supermarket chains, and five-star restaurants and neighborhood eateries.
Johnson expressed his excitement that the DIYE shared his vision and their commitment to a selection process that included all Bahamians, not just Nassauvians. While admitting that he was nervous and anxious about the pitch competition, Johnson credited his win to his mentors and his resiliency.
“(My mentors) showed me that failure was not an option,” Johnson laughs, “but, in addition to that, they also showed me that, in business, obstacles are inevitable, and they stressed that the resilient companies are the ones that last. And my win is an example of that.”
The Deltec Foundation congratulated all of the finalists, encouraging those that did not win the award to not give up on their entrepreneurial pursuits.
To learn more about the Foundation and next year’s application process, visit deltecbank.com/deltecinitiativesfoundation.
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