ELEUTHERA, BAHAMAS — Three aspiring agriculture entrepreneurs have been awarded a total of $10,000 in grant funding as the top finishers in the One Eleuthera Foundation’s (OEF) “Seed to Succeed” business pitch competition, held on June 9.

Third place winner Michelle Outten.

This second installment of the “Seed to Succeed” competition was offered exclusively to students enrolled in the Learn and Earn Hydroponics Program offered through the Centre for Training and Innovation (CTI) in Rock Sound. To fulfill the Hydroponics Program requirements, CTI students were challenged to put their newly acquired knowledge to use by creating and pitching their own hydroponics business in the “Seed to Succeed” competition.

The event was organized by the One Eleuthera Foundation’s Social Enterprise Accelerator (OEFSEA) with grant funding provided through partnerships with the TK Foundation and the Bahamas Development Bank.

Second place winner Lynette Ferguson.

The winning trio, Davinia Cartwright-Vanhorn (first place, $5,000 winner), Lynette Ferguson (second place, $3,000 winner) and Michelle Outten (third place, $2,000 winner) each received seed funding to invest in their own unique hydroponic farming systems and businesses based on Eleuthera.

“All the students impressed the judging panel with their enterprise, enthusiasm and social purpose. The experience exposed the students to a professional environment in which they learned to adapt and think quickly to answer questions and accurately present information. To have the opportunity to not only create but also pitch a business plan to a panel of judges is very unique and something all the students should be very proud of,” said Banu Devi-Nair, academic dean, CTI.

Judging criteria was based on the participants’ ability to deliver a compelling, well-thought-out pitch, as well as other factors including the overall viability and unique selling proposition of the business and the presentation of realistic assumptions and financials. The grant award covers expenses for the further development of the business plan, business license fees and the purchase of products or services required by each respective business.

First place winner Davinia Cartwright-Vanhorn.

Vanhorn won first place with her pitch to further develop both her businesses, “Da Farm Yaad” and “Da Melting Pot”. She started a successful catering and food business along with her husband in Nassau in 2019, which she recently relocated to Palmetto Point, Eleuthera. “Da Melting Pot” specializes in providing fresh, healthy farm-to table meals using the best and freshest locally sourced ingredients. Vanhorn’s pitch included the integration of a hydroponics farm to supply her catering/food business and expand “Da Farm Yaad’s” output of fresh, organic produce for local sales and consumption. Novel services to be introduced also included pre-packaged wellness boxes comprised of fresh produce with daily deliveries to locals and tourists.

Second place finisher Ferguson proposed “Ancient Native Therapeutic Solutions”, a modern apothecary business providing native, holistic solutions steeped in time-honored Bahamian and African healing traditions. The product line would infuse an extensive array of medicinal herbs freshly harvested from her organic hydroponic farm, along with raw ingredients sourced naturally from the sea and land.

Outten earned third place with “Hydro Fresh”. Building on her deep passion for landscaping and growing clean and green, her business concept was pitched on expanding her current landscaping business to provide customized hydroponic systems and seedlings to the local market.

“Seed to Succeed” competition runners-up also included fellow hydroponics students Tate Bethel, Donald Rolle and Charvette Strachan.