Basseterre, St. Kitts (July 28, 2017) -- When the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis (DBSKN) hosted its third Business Fair at the Independence Square in Basseterre on Friday May 27 last year, nail technician Ms Serene Weekes of Ponds Extension was one of the local entrepreneurs who took the challenge to be a participant to showcase her services.
After years of struggle operating from the front of her family house at Ponds Extension, Ms Weekes learned that the Development Bank had in September 2015 rolled out its Fresh Start Programme aimed at assisting young small scale businesspersons in the Federation to grow their business, and without hesitation she applied for a business loan under the programme.
Her participation at the Development Banks Business Fair was testament that she had been considered for the Fresh Start loans. Among the tens of people who stopped by her booth was the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance with responsibility for the Development Bank, Dr the Hon Timothy Harris.
One of the main reasons for our business fair is to provide our clients the opportunity to market their products or their services to the general public, said Mrs Kimmoy OLoughlin-Burroughs, Assistant Manager, Business Support Unit at the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis.
We gave Ms Serene Weekes the opportunity to pursue her dream of being a nail technician and owning her own business. She saw the opportunity to show us, the bank, what she can do and also show potential customers of her expertise. She took the opportunity to participate in the business fair where she got a good feedback from those who attended.
Ms Weekes, whose business goes by the name Savis Nail Care and Deco, started the business in 2002 when she got her first set of equipment from her mother. Initially she operated from the backyard of their family home and her first clients were her family members and friends.
When more people started recognising her skills, she moved the business to the front of the family home where she wanted to build a permanent structure from where she could operate. However when she applied for a loan from a lending agency in 2014 she was turned down.
After Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr the Hon Timothy Harris launched the Fresh Start Programme in September 2015 that was offering concessionary loans of up to US$100,000 to operators of small to medium enterprises, Ms Weekes heard about it and decided to apply.
When the Development Bank announced that they had the Fresh Start Programme to assist small to medium businesses with low interest loans, I decided to try. Even before I applied I met the banks General Manager Mr Lenworth Harris who after I told him of my dreams and predicament where I would have been turned down previously at another institution, he advised me to apply, said Ms Weekes.
At the Development Bank she was put through the banks normal loan processing procedures and within a few weeks was informed that she was successful. She received a phone call she says changed her life.
When I had got the call, you know, I jump up because I felt big, recalled Ms Weekes. I say yeah I am going get my building and the customers will be more, they are going to be satisfied. I had peace and I was comfortable because you know when you have your dream and find that it is being fulfilled that is the greatest thing one could experience.???
She drew the sketch of the proposed building, but the Housing Board told her that she could not put it up at the front of the family home. She went back to the drawing board and made another sketch, this time with the new structure located to the back of the family home.
I did the opening of the new building on June 15 this year, said Ms Weekes. It has made quite a difference as the number of clients is getting higher, because now we have a proper building, with good and comfortable space. Previously some people kept away because they knew the little space that I had. Now that I am open to the public at a professional business level, more clientele is coming.
Clients patronising Savis Nail Care and Deco are recommended to make appointments because sometimes she is away doing the decoration part of the business. She however added that walk-in clients who find her at the premises are never turned away.
I am into manicure and pedicure and I do any feet, I do men, women, and kids, explained Ms Weekes. I cater to kids because you know the kids sometimes they come with the mum and they want to feel the same, so I make them feel loved and for that reason I have a kids station where they sit down by their mum or whoever they came with.
Ms Serene Weekes concluded: "Development Bank is here for all the people who want to do business. What matters to me is that they helped me to become a young entrepreneur. That is an opportunity I did not have because in 2014 a funding agency had turned me down. I got a helping hand at the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis.
1: Ms Serene Weekes (right) is paid a visit at her booth by Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris when she participated at the Development Banks Business Fair in May last year.
2: Open for business thanks to the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis: Ms Serene Weekes at the entrance of her business in Ponds Extension.
3: Ms Serene Weekes demonstrating to Development Bank???s Assistant Manager, Business Support Unit, Mrs Kimmoy O Loughlin-Burroughs, how she does a manicure.
4: Ms Serene Weekes shows the kids station at her business premises.