The Bahamas: A Reintegration Success Story

Date Publish: 
Bahamas / America

Garvey Burrows was born in The Bahamas on 8 March 1973 to a
Bahamian father and a Jamaican mother.  Garvey and his family
migrated to the United States 31 years ago.

After serving a prison sentence in the United States he was
involuntarily returned to The Bahamas on 4 November 2009. 

Prior to his return flight, he had never visited or lived in New
Providence; he was born on Grand Bahama, another island in the
archipelago of The Bahamas.

When Garvey arrived, he found himself in his country of birth
but without any financial or family support, no place to stay and
no identification documents, even to secure employment.

With the assistance of the IOM Reintegration Project and one of
its partners, Great Commission Ministries, Garvey was provided with
temporary shelter and was eventually able to secure employment and
a place to stay.

But his long-term goal was to find more sustainable employment
and income in order to take care of himself and support his
children living in the US. 

Finding long-term employment was a challenge in the current
economic climate and the unemployment rate in The Bahamas. 
Although Garvey worked long hours, he barely earned enough to cover
his basic expenses.  He needed further assistance to support
his reintegration process.

Garvey worked in the landscaping and painting business while in
the US.  He had acquired skills that could be marketed through
a small business venture.  Feeling confident that with hard
work and his experience he would be able to manage a small business
and sustain himself, the IOM Small Business Grant was made
available to him.

In January 2010 he completed the small business training
workshop where he learned how to draft a business plan, set up and
manage a business, and secure and track finances.

Once the small business plan was completed, the grant was
requested and approved.  Garvey received the equipment for his
lawn care and pressure cleaning business on 3 March 2010, and was
immediately in business.

During a follow-up visit conducted by IOM staff in August, 2010,
Garvey was still working his regular job and managing his small
business in spite of the challenges: the downturn in the economy;
being new in the Bahamian market; and having no funds to market his
business apart from word of mouth.

While he expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to set
up his business with the IM Small Business Grant, he said he had
not been able to generate enough income from his new business to
cover his needs and those of his children.

He is earning an average of USD 400 per month from his new
business and plans to step up his marketing efforts once he
completes the final steps to be properly licensed. 

When asked how he felt about the project, Garvey replied, "It
helped me real good.  Without the programme I would not have
been able to set up my business and to get as far as I am
now.  You are the ones who helped me from the beginning when I
came in."

© IOM 2010 (Photo: Dominique Martin)