JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) has expanded this year’s second staging of its annual venture capital conference, following overwhelming response to the first one held in 2013.
  • This year’s conference, being held under the theme: ‘Towards a Dynamic Ecosystem…Linking Capital, Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Growth’, will be held over three days.
  • The conference will be officially opened on Tuesday, September 9, with the main speakers being Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips; and Professor of Investment Banking at Harvard Business School in the United States, Dr. Joshua Lerner.

The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) has expanded this year’s second staging of its annual venture capital conference, following overwhelming response to the first one held in 2013.

This year’s conference, being held under the theme: ‘Towards a Dynamic Ecosystem…Linking Capital, Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Growth’, will be held over three days, up from one in 2013, from September 8 to 10, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.

Features this year include: two workshops on day one, Monday, September 8, focusing on issues relating to entrepreneurs, such as negotiating business financing, and business valuation; and matters pertaining to development of an environment for a venture capital programme.

The conference will be officially opened on Tuesday, September 9, with the main speakers being Finance and Planning Minister, Dr. the Hon. Peter Phillips; and Professor of Investment Banking at Harvard Business School in the United States, Dr. Joshua Lerner.

Other notable speakers will include: Principal Specialist in charge of the Early Stage Financing Group/Access to Finance, Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Susana Garcia-Robles; and Managing Director of Oasis500, an information and communications technology (ICT) digital media, mobile sector business accelerator, and investment company, based in Amman, Jordan, Yousef Hamidaddin.

His attendance follows the launch of the Government’s Start-up Jamaica initiative, and supporting boot camp, which will coincide with the venture capital conference’s staging.

Oasis500 is providing seed funding for technology-savvy entrepreneurs participating in the programme, designed to transform their business ideas over a period of approximately four months, into effective business plans, capable of attracting investments.

The project is supported by the World Bank, with funding provided through the DBJ.

The second day will also feature a panel discussion focusing on issues relating to female entrepreneurs as well as the potential effect venture capital and private equity funding can have on the creative and cultural industries.

Activities on day three, Wednesday, September 10, will focus on financing access for budding and existing entrepreneurs.

Speaking at a recent media briefing at the institution’s Oxford Road offices, DBJ   Venture Capital Programme Coordinator, Audrey Richards, said the decision to expand the conference resulted from the positive response to last year’s staging at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, which was attended by over 300 persons, noting that “by mid-morning, we only had standing room.”

“One of the attendees said he thought last year’s conference was a game changer for the venture capital industry. I think it opened the eyes of a lot of people about what we were doing, what the industry is all about, and what we are seeking to achieve,” she said.

DBJ Chairman, Joseph M. Matalon, said the entity was “pleasantly surprised at the level of interest and the turnout for” the 2013 conference.

“Those 300 (persons) represented a wide cross-section of Jamaican professionals, local and international policy makers, regulators, academics and most importantly, our entrepreneurs. There were several round table discussions and we concluded with a very dynamic post conference workshop, in which we explored some of the policy issues involved in the establishment (of a venture capital system),” he noted.

Country Representative for the IDB, which is assisting with the venture capital programme’s development, Therese Turner-Jones, welcomed the second staging of the conference, which she anticipates will also highlight the “significant landmarks” the country has recorded in the process of developing the programme.

While noting that Jamaica has “come a long way” in the process,

Mrs. Turner-Jones said “there is still some way to go.”

She said the IDB is “very happy and excited” to be involved in the engagement, and with the advances made to date.

The Jamaica Venture Capital Programme (JVCP) is a Government initiative, aimed at developing the environment to mobilize long-term equity funding to enable greater access to alternative financing sources for high potential, small and medium size (SME) enterprises, and entrepreneurs.

Its development and implementation, which commenced in 2013, is being embarked on over a three-year period.

It is being facilitated through a technical cooperation agreement, signed by the DBJ and the IDB, which provides upwards of $20 million in grant and counterpart funding.