Premier David Burt along with Jamahl Simmons, the Chairman of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, hosted a press conference on Wednesday (Sept 30) to announce the selected vendor for the Government sponsored Virtual Market.
This virtual market allows:
• Businesses to have an online presence that increases their visibility internationally
• Promotes economic growth to smaller businesses, like vendors who typically would only be able to reach their customers in person on specified days
• Removes the technical barrier for those unable to open a merchant account with the local banks, by allowing users of the market to take advantage of existing payment processing through the Virtual Market
• Removes the financial burden associated with the costs of building standalone websites
The BEDC team, with approval from the Board, selected Jahde Eve, founder of Code 441.
Premier Burt said it was “a pleasure” to “confirm the selection of a vendor for the Virtual Market”, which was announced in the PLP Throne Speech in 2018, when it was noted that “as technology plays a greater role in Bermuda’s future, the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) must evolve to provide support to entrepreneurs who are looking to build technology-based businesses”.
On that note, he said: “The Bermuda Economic Development Act will be modernised to enable the BEDC to provide on-demand virtual markets for local entrepreneurs, providing an additional avenue for home-based businesses to thrive.”
“Since that time the entire country has been affected by the COVID-19 Global Pandemic, which allowed us to further see the need for online solutions for local entrepreneurs on the Island.
“As you know the BEDC’s mandate is to actively assist the development of a strong, well-managed and prosperous small business sector in Bermuda. The operative word in this sentence is “actively”.
“Synonyms for this word include, aggressively, vigorously, energetically. These words are indicative of how I encourage the BEDC to address many of the barriers that entrepreneurs face on the Island.
“In several meetings with the BEDC team and other stakeholders, including local entrepreneurs other businesses in the technology field and industry experts, it became apparent that a barrier to businesses operating online was the cost to get online and the difficulty opening a merchant account with one of the Banks, which is a requirement to be able to transact locally online.” I charged the BEDC with identifying a solution to address and remove these barriers and creating a Government supported Virtual Market is one way to do this.
“With a Virtual Market the opportunity exists to promote economic development in Bermuda by providing small businesses with access to an online platform that will allow them to sell their goods and services.
“In addition, to provide an alternative solution to businesses needing to establish their own payment processing solution.
“I would like to thank the BEDC team for taking on this charge. I know that with COVID-19 and a disruption of normal entrepreneurial activity this project was put on hold, so that the BEDC could focus on providing the much needed financial support that so many businesses needed over the last six months.
“Although, the BEDC continues to process requests for financial support, due to the Island reopening and the slow transition to getting back to business, it has allowed the BEDC to re-focus on this pressing need.
“The BEDC will share the name of the Vendor that has been selected to work with them on building the Virtual Market and I am looking forward to seeing the results of this new partnership.
“This project is a further example of the actioning of the BEDC mission to “grow new and existing Bermuda businesses”.
“Entrepreneurship, globally, is considered a tool of economic empowerment. In Bermuda, we can see the evidence of this in the development of new business and new job creation. We also recognize that being able to conduct business online creates opportunities for business to scale and grow beyond Bermuda’s 21 square miles.
“This Government will continue to support the development of a vibrant and thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in Bermuda through the BEDC.”
BEDC Board Chairman Jamahl Simmons stated that “there are many benefits to having a Government sponsored Virtual Market”.
Specifically, he said a virtual market allows:
- Businesses to have an online presence that increases their visibility internationally
- Promotes economic growth to smaller businesses, like vendors who typically would only be able to reach their customers in person on specified days
- Removes the technical barrier for those unable to open a merchant account with the local banks, by allowing users of the market to take advantage of existing payment processing through the Virtual Market
- Removes the financial burden associated with the costs of building standalone websites
“We are excited about the opportunity to support some of our local vendors and those who would not typically be able to have an online presence,” said Mr Simmons.
“Businesses like your favourite baker that you only see on specified vending days, the retailer that has unique products that we know and love, but do not have the online presence for you to find them consistently. The service provider that offers mobile massages, and the list goes on.
“The goal is not to limit who can access the Virtual Market, but to create another opportunity for Bermudian entrepreneurs to get their products into the hands of their customers.
“Since the 2018 Throne Speech, the BEDC team has been meeting with industry stakeholders, gathering information on how best to deliver on the objective and finally reviewing proposals from five vendors to finally arrive at the selection of a vendor to partner with us to build the Virtual Market.
“The BEDC team with approval from the Board selected Jahde Eve, founder of Code 441. Jahde founded Code 441 in 2014 with the goal to educate, inspire and equip Bermudian boys and girls with the skills and resources to pursue opportunities in technology. Since that time, he has done just that, working with partners to host Hackathons and training programmes and cams to support Bermudian youth,” he added.
“Jahde’s proposal for the creation of the virtual Market provided us with the opportunity to continue to support Bermuda entrepreneurship but also allowed us to help him to continue his mandate to empower and mentor young people of Bermuda by encouraging them to embrace the current tech marketplace as builders and content creators.
“For the BEDC this project is an opportunity to show how we can work collectively to solve a problem and empower our next generation simultaneously.
“We look forward to working with Jahde and to sharing with you a solution that will create exponential opportunities for growth for Bermudians.”