JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The country’s business leaders are urged to come forward to mentor young technology entrepreneurs benefiting from the Government’s ‘Start Up Jamaica’ (SUJ) initiative.
  • Under the initiative, the Government is partnering with accelerator company, Oasis500, based in Jordan in the Middle-East, which trains and funds startup tech companies.
  • The State Minister noted however, that while he is pleased with partnership from Oasis500, “we want local companies to come onboard and see this as a viable investment opportunity”.

The country’s business leaders are urged to come forward to mentor young technology entrepreneurs benefiting from the Government’s ‘Start Up Jamaica’ (SUJ) initiative.

The call came from State Minister for Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson, who stressed that these “very bright talented youngsters” have great ideas but are not necessarily business people, and are in need of legal as well as financial advice.

Mr. Robinson was addressing a ceremony held at SUJ headquarters in downtown Kingston today (March 26), to announce the successful teams that have been selected to formally develop their businesses under the programme.

“One of the things we want to do, is pair them with local executives, local investors, who may also see an opportunity,” he said.

Start Up Jamaica seeks to provide mentorship and other business support for aspiring and new technology entrepreneurs.

Under the initiative, the Government is partnering with accelerator company, Oasis500, based in Jordan in the Middle-East, which trains and funds startup tech companies. The company has committed to invest in tech entrepreneurs, who are interested in going through the required process for selection.

Oasis500 is providing US$30,000 to each entrepreneur selected. This is a combination of 50 per cent cash with the remainder representing mentorship, training, and other business support.

Three start-up companies have been selected to participate in the 100-day acceleration process offered by Oasis500, and the members leave the island next week for Jordan.

Mr. Robinson said Oasis500 will provide the young entrepreneurs with the opportunity to take their ideas and concepts and look at how they can be applied in other markets, while also leveraging the company’s contacts.

He said Oasis500 has a proven track record, with 80 per cent of those, who go through the company’s acceleration programme, receiving follow-on investment.

“This is an opportunity for us to take the brightest minds, and provide the mentorship, provide the support, provide the access to capital so that they can become successful business persons of tomorrow,” the State Minister said.

Mr. Robinson said he is “very excited” about this important milestone Start Up Jamaica has achieved, noting that he is pleased that the initiative is now at the stage where, having started last year, companies have accepted equity investment.

“Start Up Jamaica is still a work in progress…this is just the end of round one. At the end of this process, we’re going to be repeating it, we’re going to be opening it up to a new set of entrepreneurs, who will go through an application process, go through a boot camp and hopefully, more of them will be selected for investment in their companies,” he said.

The State Minister noted however, that while he is pleased with partnership from Oasis500, “we want local companies to come onboard and see this as a viable investment opportunity”.

Co-founder of the mobile application, CrimeBot, Dave Oakley, which is among beneficiaries of Oasis’ accelerator programme, shared that he is looking forward to “getting mentors, who are able to push us into new territories”.

“Getting into places like South America, Asia, getting into certain areas of the United States will be a task, and we need all the help that we can get,” he said.

The teams went through a rigorous process, which started in July 2014 with 218 applicants, which was narrowed down to 60 persons following a preparation boot camp in August for the accelerator programme. The companies were then whittled down to the selected three.

The accelerator is a key element in a strategy developed by the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining to help innovators and entrepreneurs in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean grow their ideas into marketable products and services, thus contributing to economic growth, increasing employment and generating foreign exchange.

SUJ is a public/private partnership for economic growth and development, which aims to help Jamaica’s innovators and entrepreneurs grow from being an idea to a product, thus increasing employment and access to foreign exchange.

The initiative also seeks to move Jamaicans from being primarily consumers of technology to becoming producers of technology; and to position the country as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship within the Caribbean region.

SUJ’s goal is to support talented and technologically savvy young people, who are eager to tap into the global demand for creative mobile applications that solve real-world business and social problems, and in so doing, create their own employment.