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Organization reaches out to online community

Together with fellow Bahamian and web enthusiast Chad Bowe, Forsythe set up The Bahamas Internet Association in an effort to provide some cohesion to the burgeoning industry. Here he explains some of the thinking behind the project: 

Friday, November 12, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010

Upon returning to The Bahamas in 2007 after obtaining a degree in e-commerce, Damien Forsythe saw the need to establish an organization in his home country to promote the Internet as a tool for business, and increase communication within the online sector as a whole.

Together with fellow Bahamian and web enthusiast Chad Bowe, Forsythe set up The Bahamas Internet Association in an effort to provide some cohesion to the burgeoning industry. Here he explains some of the thinking behind the project:

Q: How did The Bahamas Internet Association come about?

A: When I returned home, I quickly realized that the industry was very small and scattered. It was difficult to find any sort of cohesion, or trade meetings or governing body to get involved with. So, even as a Bahamian, it was hard to make contacts.

I also thought that an industry body would make it much easier and safer for expatriate Internet professionals, who may have been thinking about moving to, or investing in, the Bahamian online industry. There was no industry body to be the welcoming committee for potential investors and to answer their questions or concerns. I’m hoping that The Bahamas Internet Association will come to fill that void.

Q: What are the organization’s aims?

A: The Bahamas Internet Association has four major tenets:
-Relationship building among its members
-Industry advocacy
-Organize public and private events.
We hope to further these efforts and have as much industry-wide involvement and support as possible.

Q: What are the main stumbling blocks to greater use of the Internet as a business tool in The Bahamas?

A: Our small economy and relatively shallow skills base present fundamental challenges. But these challenges should diminish, as we build a domestic skills base, and welcome skilled expatriate investors and professionals, in tandem with the general growth of the population and economy of The Bahamas.

If the banking sector grows with the Internet industry and we have supportive government legislation, we should be able to build an industry niche here in The Bahamas, providing another revenue stream for the overall economy.

Q: What do you see as being the main areas of potential growth for businesses looking to increase their web presence?

A: On a domestic basis, more local business will create websites for themselves, and these businesses will come to understand that a website is only the beginning of their online presence. They will make use of online videos, social media, blogs, viral marketing, article marketing, search engine optimization, paid traffic searches etc, and make full use of what the Internet has to offer.

For international companies, when combining the tax-friendly nature and strict privacy laws of The Bahamas, there is an opportunity to use the jurisdiction as the base from which to run an online business. We have secure hosting companies, a fiber optics network and a financial services sector to support this.

Q: What are the key elements to marketing yourself successfully online?

A: Think in a holistic way. You can’t stop with your website–you have to go further and make use of more Internet tools and new ways to interact with your customer. Also, traditional media is far from dead, so you have to think of how to integrate your offline and online media exposure for your greatest benefit.

Q: What do you hope to see happen in the future as regards business and the Internet in The Bahamas?

A: I hope we have a growing and relevant domestic Internet industry, as well as a quality offshore Internet jurisdiction with expatriate investors and professionals coming here to share their capital and expertise to grow the industry, and The Bahamas in general.

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