Basseterre, St. Kitts (August 16, 2017) -- When two young and energetic persons, Mr David Heyliger, 32, and Ms Samantha Liddie, 26, realised that they had culinary skills that could be used for the benefit of the working public, they decided to get into a partnership.
The result of this partnership was Samantha's Diner operating from Mr Heyliger's kitchen at Buckleys Park in West Basseterre with the aim of providing hot lunches to the working class. The business, which started over one and a half years ago, took off slowly as Samantha had a full time job elsewhere.
We started out doing it every day, but it was like Samantha would do some of the cooking and go to work, said Mr Heyliger. Then we used to do it on a Sunday or so, but that was not working out for us, so we went back to the drawing board, and changed up a few things.
That strategy started working in their favour, but they soon realised that they needed to inject funds into the new business if they were to satisfy the needs of persons who loved their food.
I was in a conversation with a friend, and she said David what you have is pretty good but you know you could get a little bit of help from the Fresh Start Programme loans being offered by the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis (DBSKN), recalled Mr Heyliger. I said I did not have anything to put up and she explained to me how the programme works and right away I decided to start the signing up process and luckily for me I got through.
After they obtained the loan in February this year, Ms Samantha Liddie quit her fulltime job at a restaurant in West Basseterre, and they went into fulltime business. Samantha's Diner had arrived. David noted: We specialise in Caribbean cuisine - soul food. Food that touches the soul, food that makes you feel good after a stressful morning on the job.
With the funds from the Fresh Start Programme loan, they were able to put out advertisements by way of social media, mostly WhatsApp, and according to Mr Heyliger the strategy has paid off well as the business is well patronised. Their immediate plans are to open a food outlet at the Buckleys roundabout on the F.T. Williams Highway, where a converted container will be used as a kitchen.
He initially thought that once he got the loan from the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis, that he would only be seeing them when he would go to pay his loan instalments or if they came to him if he failed to meet his obligations with the bank. He says that he was pleasantly surprised at how staff members at the Business Support Unit of the bank have been working with him to ensure that Samantha's Diner is doing well.
Even after I got my loan these persons are still calling me, trying to find out from me how I am doing, giving me tips, always looking out for me, giving me business opportunities, said Mr Heyliger. Right from the top floor of the bank, Mr (Lenworth) Harris (the CEO) himself right down to the ladies and gentlemen in the lower floor they are very helpful.
He was surprised to find out that at the Development Bank business is not a one-way traffic. He was given a loan by the bank. What then took him off guard was when the bank was observing its anniversary, they asked him to cater for the staff and their visitors, and of course he was paid for doing that job. He was hired on two occasions for cater for the bank.
Mr Lockhart Alleyne, Business Support Technical Officer at the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis (DBSKN) noted that when Mr David Heyliger first approached the bank they knew that food business is always good business. They got samples of Samantha's Diner food and there was a general consensus at the bank that the food was good.
We also got that kind of feedback and it made us believe more in the project because that is what people want - good food and if you could offer good food you are going to make money, noted Mr Alleyne.
People will always want to buy your products and they will keep coming back. So the loan was approved, they got their start and they assisted us in a staff activity that we organised and following that activity we also got good reviews on what they delivered, and then we decided to hire them another time to cater for the bank.
Mr David Heyliger, in commenting on his relationship with the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis (DBSKN) said that the members of staff at its Business Support Unit are phenomenal in the way they have assisted and supported him and his business partner to grow Samantha's Diner to make sure that it is the best.
In his conclusion he said: If you are a young person and you are looking for help, man just go to the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis. These guys will help you. Five of my friends, just speaking to them on my experience with the bank, have gotten through with their small scale business loans. I would recommend any person who wants better for themselves and their family to try and contact somebody in the bank.
1: Mr Lockhart Alleyne, Business Support Technical Officer at the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis (left) with Ms Samantha Liddie and Mr David Heyliger at their Buckley's Park kitchen.
2: Mr David Heyliger of Samanthas Diner delivers a food package to a client.