A two-week long Straw Training program coordinated by the Handicraft Department of BAIC was held on October 30th through November 10th. The training program was designed to encourage and train persons to become self-employed in the art of producing Bahamian-made handicraft products. The program taught its participants to plait, stitch, decorate and finish products at a high standard.

By the end of the program each participant was proficient in the art of straw plaiting, stretching and binding. They were able to produce items such as bags, hats, placemats and portfolios making them eligible to graduate with a certificate of completion from the program.

Facilitating the training was Ms. Eloise Smith, who was selected because of the wealth of knowledge coupled with her many years of experience and her genuine willingness to impart her knowledge in the straw craft industry.

Newly appointed Senior Deputy General Manager with responsibility for Handicraft, encouraged graduates to be creative, be known for their individual style and not to be ‘copy-cats’. She highlighted the importance of social media and what it can mean for their startup businesses, which she explained is the new way of doing business in the 21st Century.

At the graduation ceremony Executive Chairman of BAIC Mrs. Miriam Emmanuel gave a charge to the graduates to utilize their newly found talent, to dream and one day start their very own Handicraft Business. She also pledged the support of the Corporation to assist them in any way possible. She noted her pleasure in seeing the reigniting of the Handicraft Training Programs, and praised the efforts of the Handicraft Department
The Handicraft Department became operational within BAIC in 1999. It is responsible for the development of handicraft products and assist artisans and artists with the coordination of the production and marketing of handicrafts, gifts and souvenirs in The Bahamas and Internationally.

Its aims and objectives:
• To foster the relationship between artisans and strengthen the network of artisans by encouraging the development of Handicraft Associations
• Meet the needs of handicraft entrepreneurs who rely on art, crafts and souvenirs and gifts production as a primary source of income
• Encourage unemployed persons to become future handicraft entrepreneurs
• Develop the Art of producing Bahamian-made handicraft products.

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