News Release: Hamilton, Bermuda 8 March 2019 – Premier David Burt was the guest speaker at the graduation of the 4th cohort of the StreetWise ‘MBA’ held on Friday, March 2nd at HSBC Harbourfront.  The Graduates included Velda Franco owner of Sunset Paradis Bermuda Vacation Rentals, Aisha Spencer co-owner of three Graces Day Spa, Chrisathi Waldron, owner of Scribbles Art Shack, Sandra Dill, CEO of EDcellerate, Jessica Cassidy, owner of Pirate Port Ladies, Dakia O’Brien, owner of Wild Wing Wednesday and Jennifer Ward, owner of Inspired Creative.  This is the 4th cohort of entrepreneurs to have participated in the Programme and the graduates are all women.  We are thrilled to announce this and congratulate the CEOs on their accomplishments, and it is fitting to make the announcement today in conjunction with International Women’s Day, said Jamillah Lodge, Streetwise Facilitator and BEDC Communication & Development Director.

The Premier, as guest speaker of the night stated: “It is a pleasure to be here tonight as we celebrate the graduates of the BEDC Streetwise MBA programme. This evening marks the beginning of what promises to be a turning point for our graduates of this extremely beneficial educational experience. As entrepreneurs, you now have a distinct advantage in our community . . . your training has provided you with a strategic growth action plan, you’ve gained access to a network of peers and business leaders who will continue to provide support and accountability and you are now well equipped to meet your full business potential.

He continued: “There will be days when you just want to throw in the towel and give up. Don’t. Press on, remember why you began this journey and you what you want to achieve.”

The evening, sponsored by HSBC, included dinner and networking.  Interise representative Aliesha Porcena flew in from Boston to attend the graduation.  Ms. Prcena stated: “It was an honor to represent Interise at the Bermuda graduation.  It was a beautiful event, there was so much love and support in the room.  We at Interise appreciate your partnership and look forward to continuing to work together to address many of the issues business owners are facing.” Family also were on hand to watch the graduates accept their certificates of completion.  Said Ms Dill on her reason for taking the course: “As a new entrepreneur, I took the Streetwise MBA to get professional advice and learn up to date, best practices on how to enhance my college prep coaching business and reduce the trial and error steps. This was a very aggressive, time consuming, and thought provoking program. I now have a more efficient accounting system and an intentional, strategic growth plan. The future for EDcellerate looks bright.”

Established in 2004, StreetWise ‘MBA’™ utilises an award-winning curriculum and a facilitated peer-learning method to provide small and medium business owners with business knowledge, management know-how and connections needed to grow. Bermuda is one of 80 locations throughout North America and the Caribbean to offer this award-winning programme to business owners looking to strengthen and scale their organisations.  Bermuda has held the course since 2015 and has graduated 44 students to date. Mrs Lodge stated “The curriculum is rigorous and time consuming.  Business owners must be prepared to do the work, so we celebrate these seven CEOs deserve for their accomplishment of completing the very tasking and comprehensive 6-month course.”

Ms Waldron said of her experience: “Taking the 6-month MBA Streetwise course has provided me with an enhanced knowledge on how to “effectively” grow and scale my small business. Knowing that success doesn’t happen overnight, and that “entrepreneurship” is for the resilient.” Resilience was a trait that all the women shared throughout the duration of the program.  One of the key elements of the program is the use of the peer to peer or CEO Mentoring groups which allowed them to hold each other accountable. Ms O’Brien stated that she “signed up on a whim, not knowing what to fully expect. I’m glad I did because this program and my fellow CEOs, forced me to look at myself and my business differently. After having a failed restaurant, I am now ready to dig back in with the knowledge I gained from the Streetwise MBA.”

Interise’s StreetWise ‘MBA’™ curriculum walks participants through the process of creating a business strategy, analysing finances, accessing capital, formulating a marketing plan, producing a sales strategy, and much more.  Mrs Spencer said of her experience: “I personally took the course because we knew we needed to move to another level from where we have been these past 2 years in our business. The greatest help to me, is am more confident in my numbers, when to make certain changes, delegating tasks and outsourcing when needed -knowledge in my overall business.”

The next cohort for the 2018 StreetWise ‘MBA’™ Programme begins in September 2019. In order to be eligible, candidates must have been in business for over three years, have at least one full-time employee besides the owner and earn a gross annual revenue of less than $5 million.

Interested participants in the upcoming programme, can contact, 292-5570 or e-mail

  • About BEDC: Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) is Bermuda’s premier source of free confidential business advice for entrepreneurs.  The mission is to serve Bermuda’s local business community with the highest degree of professionalism by providing, authoritative business advice; counsel and loan guarantee support. Bermuda Business Starts Here!  For more information visit
  • About Interise: Since 2004, Interise has taken an innovative approach to economic development in low- and moderate-income communities by helping existing small business owners plan, achieve and manage long-term growth of their business.  More than 6,000 business owners have completed the StreetWise ‘MBA’™ curriculum with extraordinary results.  On average, Interise graduates create jobs at 5X the rate of the private sector as a whole.  More information can be found at, on Twitter @Streetwise_MBA, on Facebook, or on LinkedIn
  • Photos Supplied: Premier Burt with Dakia O’Brien, Jessica Cassidy, Velda Franco, The Premier, Chrisanthi Waldron, Aisha Spencer, Sandra Dill, Jennifer Ward, Aliiesha Porcena, Dakia Obrien, Jessica Cassidy, Velda Franco, Chrisanthi Waldron, Aisha Spencer, Sandra Dill, Jennifer Ward and Jamillah Lodge