I've never seen it stated openly, but it's been known for years (even before I moved to Bonaire) that the only way someone new who wasn't an Antillean could open a dive shop would be to buy an existing business permit for one. This is nothing new (other than perhaps someone stating this in some sort of public media, but Linda says she can't find a source).
It should be noted that while in the U.S. anyone can get a corporation at the drop of a hat to do most anything legal, in Bonaire, as well as in most places in Europe, you actually need a permit to open a business. Part of the permitting process involves proving to the permitting authorities that you are capable of running the business in question, and your business typically has a very specific charter under which it operates.
In the Antilles, a further consideration to granting a business permit includes whether or not the permitting authorities think there are already enough businesses in the same field operating on the island, and whether a new foreigner-establish business would compete too much with a similar business already running and owned by an Antillean.
It's a very alien and protectionist system, at least from an American perspective. My Dutch friends don't find it that unusual.
The permitting authorities are DEZA - the Bonaire Department of Economic and Labor Affairs; the Chamber of Commerce (which is not like a U.S. Chamber - the Bonaire Kamer van Koophandel is a registration entity, and all active business must register with them and pay them a small annual fee, in exchange for which they have complete registration records for all businesses including information on what the legal charter (and limits to operation) is for each business); and the Bestuurscollege (the day-to-day administration which runs the island - consists of the Lt. Governor, the Island Secretary, and 3 Commissioners). Any of the three bodies can shoot down or indefinitely delay a permit, although as I understand it, the Bestuurscollege can override objects of the other two entities and still grant the permit. The current ruling party on the island, the UPB, is pro-business, and business licenses are more likely to be approved than they were with the previous party in power, at least from what I've heard.
Unless you're lucky or have somehow gotten someone to accelerate the process, the permit approval process runs about 4-6 months. As an example, Linda and I just got a second business permit ourselves so we could have a company which could get a credit card processing machine for the purchase of our art at the gallery we operate (the gallery itself is a non-profit entity and cannot accept any payment), and we applied for it in May, and it was approved in late September. You need a valid business license in order to open a bank account for a business here, get a phone line, and be able to accept credit cards, among other things.
Our first business license for our Web hosting and design business took 11 months and for that we had to also submit our C.V.'s, a business plan, and a letter explaining our background. Half-way through (6 months after application) the application got rejected because our business objectives were improperly translated from English to Dutch, and make it seem like we were going to be a computer sales & service business, and there were too many of those on the island at the time apparently (not that we wanted to do that sort of work at all!) - once we got that straightened out, it was a matter of another 5 months to get our business permit.
Sorry about being so long-winded, but this is, as I said, a very different approach to starting businesses than in the U.S. (I was explaining to local and Dutch friends about being able to call a place like The Company Corporation (www.incorporate.com) in the U.S., and having a company incorporated in less than a day (even less than an hour in some cases - they were in complete shock.)
In any event, DEZA has a Web site - for getting a business license, see http://www.bonaireeconomy.org/business_license.html