St Helena Online

Tag: Enterprise St Helena

Pioneer runners get St Helena on the move

On The Move run 01 2500

The things people will do to get a free T-shirt – like run 15 or more kilometres around Jamestown, for instance (not all at once). Or maybe they were running because actually, it’s healthy and quite fun and afterwards, you feel somehow better.

Thirty eight people lined up on the wharf, all smiling for the camera, at the start of the first of a series of three-kilometre runs under the banner, St Helena On The Move.

On The Move poster 400A little over half an hour later – 31 minutes and 46 seconds, to be exact – the last of them crossed the line. The fastest was back in a mere 14:25, as timed by the team from New Horizons.

Anyone completing at least five of the initial seven runs gets the free shirt, as a badge of honour.

The weekly runs, scheduled for seven Thursday afternoons from 12 January 2016, have been initiated by Dr Niall O’Keeffe, head of Enterprise St Helena, who brought the idea from his home in Ireland.

“I’ve been participating in and when possible helping to organise events like this for over 30 years,” he said.

“My home village of Ballycotton in Ireland is known by runners around the world for its events. We have regular 3km, 5km, 5-mile series and a 10-mile race in March capped at 3,300 entrants. I was also a member of East Cork AC and we had 3km winter series since the late 80s.

“The events have a very positive impact in the local community for participants, organiser, and supporters. The 10-mile event in March in particular draws competitors from around the world and has a significant tourism benefits.

“St Helena does have a running festival and I’d like to see more people having the confidence to participate by building up distance and frequency of running and walking.

“There are many people already walking and running the roads in St Helena on their own so it’s nice sometimes to participate with others.”

Enterprise St Helena is associated with economic development but Niall said the agency can also take a wider, “holistic” approach to helping people embark on new lives.

“At this time of the year many people’s thoughts turn to resolutions relating to health, career, education, business start-ups etc. ESH can provide support in most of these areas.”

He also said that St Helena On The Move could touch on all three of the National Goals – including strong community and family life.

  • The island runs bear some similarity with the parkrun movement that started in a park in London and has spread to 11 countries worldwide, with well over a million people signed up (including the owner of St Helena Online – 88 runs and counting). The parkrun phenomenon sees people of all abilities turn up in parks on Saturday mornings to take part in free, 5km runs. To get a free shirt, though, adults have to complete 50 runs (children get one after 10). A 92-year-old man in Australia has earned his 100-run shirt and features in an inspirational film, here. Councillor Gavin Ellick made a fact-finding visit to Leamington parkrun in the UK, and there has been talk of trying to establish a parkrun on St Helena.



£75k economy chief ‘needs to get people talking’

Whoever gets the job of leading St Helena’s economic transformation will have to improve links with the island’s decision-makers – and its business people.

Concerns about dialogue between the government and its arms-length enterprise agency were pointed out at the end of the annual visit of UK aid negotiators.

Their final report said: “A closer working relationship between the St Helena Government and Enterprise St Helena is needed if the airport’s potential to transform the island’s economy is to be fully realised.

“More could be done to provide effective and coordinated business planning advice and to ensure that there is an appropriate supply of credit to the private sector.”

The deadline to apply for the job of Chief Executive, Economic Development (CEED) passed while the aid advisers were on the island, on 17 January 2014.

The salary was advertised at £75-90,000 – or more for an “exceptional candidate”. Interviews were scheduled for 5-6 February 2014.

The advertisement said that the successful candidate would work “hand-in-hand with the private sector and St Helena Government”, and “articulate a shared vision of change”.

The new chief executive “must show strong pragmatic leadership” and have high-level experience of packaging investment opportunities, among other skills, it said.

“Experience of working closely with or for government organisations would be desirable.”

The advert added that the island must have the beginnings of a tourist industry in place by the time the island’s airport opens in early 2016.

Island councillor Ian Rummery – expressing a personal view – told St Helena Online: “We have raised issues with ESH about working more closely with local investors and there has been more dialogue on this.

“As Legislative Council (LegCo) we would plan to meet the new CEED once appointed to highlight the need to work together on local development.

“The recent investment in an offshore fishing vessel is a real success story and proof that this closer cooperation is working.”

The aide memoire published at the end of the UK advisers’ visit also warned that the island’s home-grown economy would dip once construction work on the airport tailed off after 2016.

But Ian said: “The expectation is that economic development will absorb many of these jobs as other projects – the wharf, possible hotel construction, etc – will pick up the slack.”

There was a backlog of construction jobs waiting to be done, he said, because there were simply not enough people on the island to carry them out.

“My concern is that while there are potential job opportunities with economic development, the move from a construction-based economy to a tourist, service-based economy requires a different skill set.

“This is going to require re-training for some people.

“The fact is that we have full employment (there are on average five people unemployed) so there are vacancies to be filled.”

He said St Helena Government was working with construction firm Basil Read to minimise the impact of work ending on the airport.

Read the full Development Aid Planning Mission report here

Robert drives his way to top business prize

business 640Robert Peters has won St Helena’s Business of the Year prize, by capitalising on the heritage that has been seen as one of the island’s great attractions for future tourists.

He received £250 for his History on Wheels business at the awards night, hosted by Enterprise St Helena at the Consulate Hotel on Saturday, 23 November 2013.

Christen Yon was awarded the same amount as winner of the Young Businessman of the Year prize, for his pig farming enterprise.

The island’s disability charity, SHAPE, won the Green Business title, after being nominated in four of the five categories.

The Buy Local prize went to Stevens Family Butchers, and Giselle Roberts won the Innovative Business award with her company, G-Unique, which sells island-made jewellery as well as items sourced from around the world.

She toasted the news in a Facebook message that received 83 “likes” within 10 hours.

g unique 550

‘Threats’ blamed as family quits island (amended text)

(This story has been amended in the light of emerging information that suggests that the unspecified threats against Mark Brumbill may well not relate to his work with the fishing industry)

The expert brought in to build up St Helena’s fishery has left the island abruptly after allegedly receiving “serious personal threats”, including to his family.

Mark Brumbill’s departure was made public the day after he and his family sailed on the RMS St Helena on Sunday 7 July, bound for Cape Town.

St Helena Online is awaiting confirmation of another matter that is thought to put a different complexion on the issue.

The threats were referred to in a brief statement from the island’s head of economic development, Julian Morris.

He made no direct reference to recent anger over a South African company, Global Fish, being given a temporary licence to fish St Helena waters.

Nor has there been any suggestion that the alleged threats even relate to Mr Brumbill’s work on behalf of the fishing industry.

The Enterprise St Helena chief said: “Mark had completed his initial appraisal and report on the St Helena Fishery, which sets out the many opportunities available to the island.

“I regret Mark’s departure, which is a loss to the island, although I fully understand his decision to leave.

“After considering a number of factors, including unfair and unwarranted comments from a few individuals, including some very serious personal threats to him and his family, Mark concluded that it would be extremely difficult for him to remain here to help Saints develop a prosperous and sustainable fishing industry.

“I am grateful to Mark and his family, who made a significant commitment by leaving their home in Brazil to come here and share Mark’s skills and experience with those who want to see growth in St Helena’s fishing sector.

“Mark identified great potential for St Helena’s fishery, provided that it can adapt to change, involving various fishing techniques and different approaches to business organisation – all matters on which he was well qualified to advise.

“Looking ahead, we will build on his work by supporting a number of local fishing initiatives.”

Julian Morris’s comments are understood to have caused anger in some circles, with conflicting accounts of events circulating on the island.

Trawler visit is first step to buying island boats, says Rob

Southern Cross could yield vital information about fish stocks. Picture by Bruce Salt
Southern Cross could yield vital information about fish stocks. Picture by Bruce Salt

St Helena could build up its own fleet of off-shore trawlers if exploratory fishing off the island’s sea mounts is successful, according to enterprise chief Rob Midwinter.

He said investors would demand proof that there were enough fish to catch before they would help island fishermen buy their own vessels – and visiting trawler Southern Star could provide it.

That could bring an end to years of frustration for Saints who have not been able to exploit the riches of their own waters, he said.

Rob, director of Enterprise St Helena, spoke after fears were raised that the African vessel’s short-term licence could be the start of overseas companies moving in on the island’s 200-mile fishing zone.

Saint FM Community Radio quoted one unnamed source saying: “Some of our local fishermen have been trying for the past 15 or 20 years to obtain a decent offshore fishing boat or two that could safely fish our sea mounts, but were never successful in raising financial support – only now to have our fish stocks ravaged by foreigners under the guise of an exploratory fishing licence agreement with St Helena Government.”

It said the Southern Cross had been successfully fishing the Bonaparte sea mount and by Sunday (23 June 2013) had caught 45 tonnes of big-eye tuna, with prospects of quickly achieving a load of 80 tonnes.

The station’s informant said local fishermen were worried by the impact on inshore fishing:

Southern Cross passes close to the RMS St Helena. Picture: Bruce Salt
Southern Cross passes close to the RMS St Helena. Picture: Bruce Salt

“We know for sure that this number of fish which swam into our exclusive fishing zone will never have the potential of reaching our inshore baited hooks and poles, on top of which it will be transported and offloaded somewhere on the African mainland in due course.”

But Rob Midwinter told St Helena Online that without the exploratory venture by Global Fish SA, the island fishermen might never fulfill their dream of raising funds for their own offshore boats.

The company had offered to train local fishermen and had an island observer on board.

Negotiations in 2010 led to four conditions being imposed on the temporary licence. They were:

  • No fishing within 20 miles of the island
  • Carrying a fisheries observer
  • Making data on catches available to the island
  • Offering Saints a chance to gain experience as crew members

In fact, the company offered to limit itself to fishing at least 30 miles offshore. 

Rob said: “We have on numerous occasions made it very clear to local stakeholders that our own ideal scenario is fully aligned to the long-standing plight of the local fishermen – namely, to see a small number of locally-owned and operated vessels fishing our sea mounts.”

But he said lack of physical evidence of the number of fish to be caught had long been a stumbling block in the way of funding, especially from British taxpayers.

He said: “Any funding body – public or private – will want to ensure risk of failure is minimised prior to making the level of capital investment that is needed.

“Funding bodies are not interested in hearsay regarding what local interests believe is currently available.

“They demand scientifically-based evidence to support the business case.

“The exploratory fishing venture that SHG has licensed has been structured in such a manner.”

He said it took into account concerns raised by government officials in the UK and members of the fishing industry task force set up under the previous governor, Andrew Gurr.

He countered complaints about lost catches by pointing out that the island is already missing out on potential earnings because it can only export frozen fish.

The island was also unable to protect its waters from illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing operations, “which it is widely suspected have been going on for several years.” 

Global Fish was paying a fee, offering training, and providing data on catches – “and they are also providing an observation role in terms of deterring IUU activity.”

Rob said: “I am aware that it has been suggested that ESH is pursuing some form of hidden agenda in relation to our dealings with Global Fish, and that it is secretly our desire to see more foreign vessels operating within our waters, which is a complete falsehood.

“We do, however, wish to see the island benefit from the revenue that we believe can be generated from this industry, if it is developed in a sustainable manner prior to the airport opening.

“We anticipate that this could be the second largest economic driver for the island after tourism.

“We have consistently stated that we wish the local fishermen to work with us to achieve this goal, as we would like to see the local industry benefit from these developments.

“It is, however, also a fact that Global Fish have indicated that they would be interested in a longer term initiative, which could involve them working in partnership with local fishermen to address the funding issue that has been a barrier for so many years.”

He said it would depend on the size of catches made – and on further negotiations, including with the island’s fishing task force. Enterprise St Helena could help bring this about, he said, but was not the decision-maker.

Stop grumbling and embrace the future, say Merrill and Kirsty

Gloomy attitudes to tourist growth on St Helena have been criticised by development staff Kirsty Yon and Merrill Joshua, after a visit to South Africa.

The Enterprise St Helena pair express their frustration in a report on a trip as guests of the Mantis Collection, the group planning to turn Ladder Hill Fort into a hotel.

They tell the ESH newsletter: “One aspect we both have noticed is how tired we are of the negativity on St Helena.

“We have just been reminded that the rest of the world has little time and tolerance for dilly dallying”.

Their “enrichment” trip involved visiting hotels and training schools, seeking new ideas that could be adapted for the island. One hotel school was already coaching students from another island group, the Maldives.

They also visited Mantis hotels in Cape Town and at the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, as well as visiting the group’s headquarters.

A highlight was meeting a tourism official for the Galapagos Islands, which have many similarities with St Helena, including a highly sensitive ecology.

“Really interesting,” says Merrill. “We spent three hours discussing stories and comparisons of our two islands.”

Read more: Enterprise St Helena newsletter 25 (pdf)

Sporty goings-on in the governor’s office?

Simon Pipe writes: In the rush of news production, mistakes happen from time to time, and as long as no-one’s reputation has been harmed then it’s best to enjoy a good laugh about it. So I’m happy to encourage people to admire The Sentinel’s picture of what looks like a lively press conference at the end of the UK aid negotiators’ visit. We had no idea there was room for so many young ladies to leap about in Governor Capes’s office.

The picture is on page 9 of the 28 February 2013 issue, here.

Driver flips airport truck – and escapes with bang on the head

An airport worker escaped with only minor harm when the dump truck he was driving rolled over on the construction site at Prosperous Bay Plain.

A fellow driver pulled him from the vehicle, suffering cuts to his hands in the process.

Both were assessed by a paramedic on the scene and then taken to the hospital in Jamestown, where the rescued driver was found to have mild concussion.

The incident happened an hour before midnight on 25 February 2013, on one of the tracks leading into Dry Gut – the deep valley being filled in to accommodate the runway.

In a statement, Deon de Jager, of construction firm Basil Read, said both drivers were given a follow-up examination the next day and declared fit for work.

He said: “An Articulated Dump Truck overturned on the Yellow Route into Dry Gut when the operator temporarily lost control of the vehicle.

The truck was assessed for any damage and then removed for repairs. Health and safety personnel then carried out an assessment of the site.

“Having been deemed safe, works resumed early on Tuesday morning.”

He said workers were given continuous safety training.

“We are proud of our safety achievements to date, and an unfortunate incident like this just shows we must never become complacent.

“Accidents are unavoidable on a project of this magnitude and type of terrain, and we do have all the systems and procedures in place in order to minimize these and to manage them when they do occur.

“The goal is not just to complete the project on time, but to do so with the minimum amount of incidents or accidents and with zero loss of life. This will be the ultimate achievement.”

More UK cash for Enterprise St Helena tourism drive

Extra public funding may be needed to turn St Helena’s tourism plans into reality, aid advisers have acknowledged.

The new Enterprise St Helena organisation has made encouraging progress, says the report on the February 2013 Development Assistance Planning Mission (DAPM).

More finance from the UK is being considered for the agency when existing funding ends in March 2013, it reveals.

“DAPM agreed that a new project to support ESH would be developed and put to DFID senior managers for approval,” it says.

Ongoing funding is also included in St Helena Government’s 2013/14 budget.

The aide memoire on the advisers’ visit says Enterprise St Helena has established a solid base for advancing the island’s economic aims.

Visits to the island by speculators and advisers from the Mantis, Protea and Pam Golding tourist groups, and a profile-raising event in Cape Town, had been positive, it says.

But they showed that “enabling tourism development may require further public funding.”

Other economic activities, such as commercial fishing, also offer large potential benefits, says the report.

“We also recognise that efforts to improve the supply of skilled construction workers would help ease a constraint to investment in property and tourism,” it says – acknowledging a bottleneck caused because there are too few builders and craftsmen on the island to cope with the amount of work emerging.

Castle Plaza? Tourist chiefs get twenty-twenty vision

Possible changes to Jamestown’s historic centre are to be put to the public as St Helena prepares for the advent of air travel.

Ideas such as a plaza outside The Castle for open-air dining have been set out in a paper called “Jamestown – a vision for 2020.” Executive councillors have agreed to a two-stage public consultation.

The island government said it needed “to give Jamestown a new role when, in just a few years, it ceases to be the point of entry to St Helena for both passengers and cargo.

“The vision seeks to enhance the charming, historic and cultural attractions of Jamestown, while developing creative new uses for some buildings and areas, including the provision of more residential accommodation, especially in lower Jamestown.”

In 2012, property advisers suggested that East India Company offices, the prison and even part of The Castle could be converted to tourist accommodation.

The vision document will be made public by Enterprise St Helena in February.