Ruth’s Place was registered in 2007 during the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup in the Caribbean. However, the accommodations officially opened to the public in 2009. The business currently employs three persons; and in addition to the 12 apartments and 10 studios, offers meals, tours and excursion packages at special rates to patrons.
Ruth’s Place secured an Accelerated and Regular Procedures Direct Assistance Grant from Caribbean Export in 2011 and 2012 respectively. The projects under the Grant Scheme include the purchase and installation of a power generator to provide an emergency supply of electricity to the property’s apartments, and a solar powered water heater at the complex. The combined projects cost a total of 45, 500 Euros.
Installation of the generator has had a tremendous impact on the experience of guests and residents. The solar-powered water heater has also improved the quality of services offered for tenants. As a result, there has been an approximate 30% increase in business, more satisfied and repeat customers, improved experience for tenants, reduced electricity bills and increased revenue. It is anticipated that energy costs could also potentially be eliminated.
Increased profits are also projected as a result of revenue generation surpassing incurred expenses. These will lead to an overall improved tourism product and experience for customers. Following the implementation of the project, the beneficiary has been selected to be the national co-ordinator of the GEF Small Grant Programme (UN Barbados project). Ruth’s Place will be used as a pilot to demonstrate the viability of renewable energy to a country like Antigua.
“One of the biggest challenges that many small business owners in Antigua and Barbuda face is a lack of financial support”, commented Ruth Spencer, Managing Director and Owner, “however Caribbean Export has been working to sensitize banks and financial institutions on the Direct Assistance Grant Scheme, which is a tremendous help,” Ruth concluded.
Ruth also noted that it was important for small businesses in Antigua and Barbuda, as well as those across the region, to try accessing information about the technical and financial assistance that is available. “Information is accessible on the Agency’s website and from the business support organisations within each country.”