NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Alan Fernander describes himself as a jack-of-all-trades.
As a budding entrepreneur, he started his first business in 2010 at his United Estates settlement in San Salvador – a convenience store he named Aaliyah’s Enterprises in honor of his first daughter.
“I opened a grocery store on my island because I saw an opportunity to start one, but it was never my passion,” Fernander said.
“When things didn’t work out, I met my eldest daughter, Aaliyah, who encouraged me to pursue my passion for mechanics. After thinking about it, I decided to give it a try. »
Fueled by the ambition and encouragement of his eldest daughter, Fernander launched his trucking and automotive business in 2019. Although he transitioned from selling snacks to shocks, he kept the name Aaliyah’s Enterprises. , specializing in auto repair, diagnostics, auto parts sales and trucking services.
“Mechanical work has been my passion for years,” Fernander said.
He was first introduced to the trade as a teenager when he apprenticed with a mechanic after high school. Later he moved to New Providence and started working for BEC, now Bahamas Power and Light, in 1996.
“When I told them I was interested in mechanics, they allowed me to work in this field and I obtained my certifications in automotive and industrial mechanics,” he says.
After gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience in New Providence, Fernander returned to San Salvador. He started small, initially providing trucking services to a hotel on the island, and in 2019 he expanded his services, officially opening his mechanic shop.
“Funding is always a key factor in starting a business, and although I started with the few resources I had, it wasn’t enough,” Fernander said.
“I heard about Access Accelerator on the news, then a friend of mine told me more about the program. I decided to sign up because I realized it was an opportunity for me. to grow my business and grow it in the vision I had in mind.
Using Access Accelerator, Fernander developed a business plan, laying out his strategy for replacing his struggling truck and purchasing the inventory and equipment he needed to run a one-stop shop for auto parts and repairs.
“The idea was when people brought their cars to my shop for diagnostics and repairs; parts would be available for them to purchase,” he continued. “I received $20,000 in financing and used that money to repair my truck and buy as much equipment and inventory as I could. »
At the time, Fernander used his truck to transport containers from the mail boat to the hotels. He originally planned to use the profits from his trucking services to buy more inventory for his store, but “COVID-19 came along and stopped everything.”
“After the hotels closed, everything stopped on the island,” Fernander said.
“It prevented my trucking revenue from materializing, but my overhead still existed. This meant that the little income I generated had to be used to pay various bills.
Although the pandemic has derailed Fernander’s business plans, he is steering Aaliyah’s businesses in the right direction.
“I never got the amount of inventory and equipment I wanted for my shop because of the pandemic, but now that hotels are trying to reopen, they’ve expressed interest in using my services again.”
While COVID-19 may have set Fernander back, he said he refuses to let the pandemic hold him back and is hopeful for the future.
“In the years to come, I want Aaliyah’s Enterprises to be the leading trucking company in San Salvador,” he said.
“No one else on the island is offering the services that I am doing right now. That’s why I’m trying to capitalize on that fact as best I can.
Now that Fernander is back on the path to success, he said he was grateful for the help he received along the way.
He added, “I don’t think I would be where I am right now without the help of the Access Accelerator. I still have a long way to go, but I am grateful for their help and look forward to the road ahead.