For the past month St. Helena Development Agency (S.H.D.A) have been running their Young and Business Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2012.
This was the second of its kind with the pilot awards having taken place in 2011. These awards were set in motion by Kirsty Yon, Trainee Youth Coordinator and Linda Houston, the former Managing Director of S.H.D.A. Kirsty informs us that the awards were based on the Prince's Trust and Shell Livewire, British organisations dedicated to providing help and advice to start up businesses. Kirsty aims to improve the awards with each year that passes. One of her focuses has been clear communication with the public. Previously, there was confusion around the word 'entrepreneur' . Kirsty says "the connection between 'entrepreneur' and 'business' was not clear so we changed the wording of the awards". The awards recognises the efforts made by individuals in the business community
The public have voted and a top five in each category has been selected. In the category of Young Entrepreneur are Kayla Fowler 'Little Gems', Mycle Williams 'Slick Cuts', Charlene Robinson 'Charley's DVD', Leroy Fowler 'Fowler's Candy' and Robyn Sim 'RS Photography'. For Business Entrepreneur are Philip John 'Building Materials Supplier', Rodney Yon 'Roddie's Chicken Farm', Jeffrey Johnson 'Johnsons JCB Hire', Gary Stevens 'Stevens Family Butchery'.
A dinner, hosted by S.H.D.A was held on 14th March to recognise the achievements of the nominees. The dinner took place at Ann's Place, a well known restaurant nestled in the lush greenery of the Castle Gardens. Greeted on arrival by Kirsty, a friendly face to set the mood for the night, we were ushered into the venue. The restaurant was softly lit and decorated with blue and white balloons; colours representing S.H.D.A. Music gently playing in the background, tables tidily presented, ready for invited guests to dine and enjoy the meal prepared by Jane(Ann's Place proprietor) and her staff.
There were approximately forty people in attendance, including a cross-section of private sector business people including Colin Thomas of the Solely Brothers, last year's Business of the Year winner, Nigel George who operates a quarry at Horse Pasture and Anthony Thomas a newcomer to the private enterprise game. Also in attendance were representatives of S.H.D.A, the nominees and their families and Governor Capes.
The evening was officially underway as Robert Midwinter, Managing Director of S.H.D.A drew the attention of the crowd. The dinner gave the opportunity for invited guests to socialise and share their experiences of being a private enterprise. Kayla Fowler; owner of 'Little Gems' and last year's winner in the category Young Business of the Year, was touched by her second nomination "It is a nice feeling knowing that the public still supports me. I know that I don't open as often as I did". Kayla has a full time job, working for the Fisheries Department and opens every Saturday. Rodney Yon, of Roddie's Chicken Farm is in his second year of business. "I have five hundred chickens and they lay three hundred eggs a day. I need my chickens to lay 15,000 a week to fill the island's demand for fresh eggs. Cleaning their coops daily is a lot of work".
The night came to a close at nine o'clock and concluded with a five minute speech from Governor Capes. The busy murmurs of the crowd lulled to a silence as the Governor took his place at the pulpit, positioned on the far right side as you enter Ann's. He spoke of changing the mindset of St Helena "from one of dependency to embracing economic self-sufficiency, based on an energetic private sector." He encouraged the island to "exploit" the new opportunities the airport would provide and looked forward to more local success stories.
Voting will conclude on 26th March and the two winners will be announced on the 30th. Each winner will receive publicity at a high profile event as well as £300.