Development Bank’s official says Federation has well trained young entrepreneurs

Heston Hamm (left) shows Shavon Douglas some of the products his company produces

Basseterre St. Kitts (May 5, 2010) – A Development Bank of Saint Kitts and Nevis official is saying the bank’s mandate to empower the country’s youth is successful largely in part because the Federation’s young entrepreneurs are well trained, focused, economically know what is good for the country, and are ready to take charge.

Shavon Douglas, Development Bank’s Senior Business Development Officer, made the remarks recently after visiting one of the bank’s clients, Heston Hamm, a young entrepreneur based in Molyneux whose business, Stone Deals, is the embodiment of the youths’ resilience to develop their country.

“Initially when Hamm approached us, we performed our various checks and balances,” recalled Douglas. “We made a thorough analysis of his business and we had several discussions back and forth where he was required to change some of his information to better fit the bank’s policies. Once all that was done we realised that his was a viable project.”

Stone Deals was, according to the bank official, a project like no other in the Federation. It was deemed viable and with the bank seeking to foster youthful entrepreneurship, Hamm and his project proposal for the setting up of Stone Deal, backed by the experience he had gained as an employee at a successful locally incorporated company, fitted in framework laid out by the bank.

Heston Hamm (left) and Development Bank official Shavon Douglas view some of the finished products on display at Stone Deals compound at Molyneux

The bank did not have any hesitation in funding the project by way of an industrial loan, as he had also exhibited all the necessary technical expertise within the framework of what he was trying to venture into. The young entrepreneur further impressed the bank official because he had also taken time to educate himself, by attending a number of training courses.

“Throughout the three years that Stone Deals has been in operation, we are in steady and ready contact with Mr Hamm,” observed Douglas. “We perform regular checks and visits to the operation and we have seen a number of the works that he has completed both at Molyneux and at various sites.

“We are proud to say that we made the right decision as Mr Hamm’s enterprise has grown from a little company and is now making tremendous strides, where he is prospering and looking to grow and to expand. From a nationalistic standpoint he has contributed quite significantly because he has been able to employ regular persons and now he is coming on stream to provide training for the YES Programme,” concluded Douglas.

Thirty-six-year-old Heston Hamm, after having survived the company’s teething problems, now looks back and his comment is that Development Bank is not just any other bank that is out to make profit. According to his observation, it is the only bank that would give the youths an opportunity in quick time.

“Young people who want to start up any business should pay more attention to the Development Bank as it not only listens, but also advises, because they want to empower young people in terms of getting into business,” said Hamm.

Shavon Douglas (right) watches as a Stone Deals employee works on the finishing touches of some of the concrete products. Looking on is Heston Hamm

Before he formed Stone Deals in 2007, he realised there was a niche in the market in terms of concrete products and he decided to do some research into the industry and also trained himself for a period of two years before he approached the bank, saying that he did not want to leave his job before he found out how things would work out.

When he approached the bank, he was referred to Shavon Douglas and he says that he was surprised at the short time it took the bank to do its due diligence as the turnaround time was quite short. He is eternally grateful for the advice he received from the bank.

“It was quick and straightforward because Douglas and I talked of the technical aspects of the project and he wanted to find out how prepared I was to undertake such a project,” said Hamm. “After he was satisfied, they assisted me in quick time. It was an ideal opportunity and here we are now.”

Since then he has been given a second loan which has put his company on the map, and says that Development Bank plays a very important role in the building of this country as it helps the country save on foreign exchange when industrial products are produced locally, and also contributes in the area of creating employment.

“What we are doing here is decorative concrete for homes and even offices as grey concrete doesn’t put any value to your property,” said Hamm. “We decorate a house and its surroundings and make it look nice in different colours, different styles, whether tiles, stone look, whatever you want. We can make it look old fashioned, we can make it look new. That is our specialty.”

He explained that decorative concrete is a wide variety of anything that deals with concrete products. The company produces paving stones in six different styles, stamp concrete, plaques, balusters in at least six different styles, and tiles of different sizes and styles.

“We want to embark on another part of decorative concrete, which is shotcreting,” said Hamm. “Shotcreting is basically what they use in the construction of pools, stabilisation of hills for example at the South East Peninsula where you find stones dropping on the road because of soil erosion. That is where shotcrete comes in.”

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