• Feature
    Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) Managing Director, Milverton Reynolds (left), converses with (from left): Jamaica Venture Capital Programme Coordinator, Audrey Richards; Inter-American Development Bank Chief of Operations, Adrianna La Valley; and Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) President, Howard Mitchell, at the recent launch of the 2019 National Business Model Competition for tertiary institutions, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.
    Photo: Michael Sloley

    Story Highlights

    • Four of the country’s leading tertiary institutions will renew their rivalry in this year’s sixth Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) National Business Model Competition (NBMC).
    • Fifteen teams of student entrepreneurs will showcase their innovation and budding business skills as they compete for the national award and cash prizes of up to $4 million, during the NBMC’s semi-finals and final slated for The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston from March 21 to 22.
    • The teams have been selected from the University of the West Indies (UWI), University of Technology (UTech), Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA), and Northern Caribbean University (NCU).

    Four of the country’s leading tertiary institutions will renew their rivalry in this year’s sixth Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) National Business Model Competition (NBMC).

    Fifteen teams of student entrepreneurs will showcase their innovation and budding business skills as they compete for the national award and cash prizes of up to $4 million, during the NBMC’s semi-finals and final slated for The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston from March 21 to 22.

    The teams have been selected from the University of the West Indies (UWI), University of Technology (UTech), Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA), and Northern Caribbean University (NCU).

    They will also vie for an all-expenses-paid trip to defend Jamaica’s 2018 International Business Model Competition (IBMC) title, at Brigham Young University in Utah, USA, from May 9 to 10.

    The defending NBMC champion is UWI-based research entity, Queritel, which created history in 2018 by being the first enterprise from that institution to win the local competition.

    In so doing, the UWI defeated the then four-time defending champion, NCU, whose entrants had won the NBMC from its inception in 2014 to 2017.

    Jamaica created history by lifting the 2018 IBMC after NCU’s BEASC Technologies, which placed second to Queritel in last year’s NBMC, topped the entrants from the 42 participating tertiary institutions worldwide.

    The country had three of five entrants finishing in the IBMC’s top 10, as the UWI’s Eco Structures placed second, with Queritel also copping a spot in the elite group.

    The NBMC, which is organised through the DBJ’s Jamaica Venture Capital Programme (JVCP), is being jointly hosted with the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ).

    Speaking at the recent NBMC media launch at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, DBJ Managing Director, Milverton Reynolds, pointed out that the competition creates a platform for exceptional learning and honing of students’ entrepreneurial skills.

    He further indicated that the NBMC encourages, promotes and fosters entrepreneurship as a means of job and wealth creation.

    The Managing Director noted that each year, hundreds of students participate in their universities’ competitions as a precursor to the NBMC, which exposes them to all aspects of running successful businesses using the revolutionary business model canvas.

    Some of the canvas’ tenets on which the students are judged include clearly defining their key partners, key activities, value propositions, customer relationships and segmentation, key resources, distribution channels, cost structure, and revenue streams.

    “Using this canvas forces the participants out of their normal comfort zone of being in the classrooms and lecture rooms, to test their hypotheses, interface with their customers, listen to feedback, and pivot and refine their business ideas before building or coming up with a prototype,” the Managing Director outlined.

    Mr. Reynolds said a number of entities emerging from the NBMC have distinguished themselves locally, regionally and globally.

    These, he pointed out, include inaugural winner – HERBOO Enterprises – out of NCU, whose personal care products are retailed in major pharmacies and supermarkets islandwide.

    “The company currently exports to six countries in the Caribbean and North America, and recently received major investment from one of our angel investor companies – First Angels Jamaica,” the Managing Director informed.

    He also cited educational tour company, Educatours, operated by three UWI graduates, which provides gamified learning experiences to schools, corporate entities and private groups, including tourists.

    “Of the approximately 60 business concepts that have entered the competition since 2014, some 40 are operating as small businesses, employing between three and five persons. Many have received international awards, grants and investments of various forms. The NBMC is not just about winning a competition… it is really hard work. But every effort is made to ensure that the students take their business ideas from concept to reality,” Mr. Reynolds indicated.

    Meanwhile, JVCP Project Coordinator, Audrey Richards, highlighted the notable transformation of NBMC student participants, which she attributed in great measure to their hard-working coaches and mentors.

    “If one observes the students who enter the internal university competitions, the national competition and the international competition, the evidence [of transformation] is clear. I am very amazed when I see the confident teams which present at the competition. They come with the natural talent… but the honing by these coordinators is amazing. The passion which these coordinators have shown is really amazing, and I’d like to thank them,” she said.

    Mrs. Richards further said that “the fact that our universities have prevailed in a [global] competition entered by some 5,000 students from universities across the world, including several Ivy League institutions, is no small feat”.

    “The NBMC represents a microcosm… of what is in an ecosystem, which nurtures and provides appropriate financing to serious entrepreneurs and innovators. At the DBJ, our focus has been about filling the gaps which existed,” she noted.

    Mrs. Richards and Mr. Reynolds also thanked the stakeholders that have sponsored the NBMC over the years, pointing out that these have included “a supportive Central Government, which have all come together to make this happen.”

    Also key among these stakeholders is the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), through the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), which has been a partner since the NBMC’s inception.

    In her remarks, IDB’s Chief of Operations, Adrianna La Valley, said the institution is proud of the long-standing collaboration forged.

    “The National Business Model Competition has helped to create an ecosystem in which entrepreneurs can thrive. The IDB will continue to support entrepreneurship in Jamaica in order to foster [that] ecosystem,” she said.

    In the meantime, lecturer in the UTech’s Department of Education and Liberal Arts, Dr. Carol Nathan, expressed “profound gratitude” to the DBJ and its partners, on behalf of the participating institutions, “for providing the excellent opportunity for our students to understand and become engaged in the entrepreneurial process”.

    “The National Business Model Competition has cultivated the establishment of very creative enterprises… and promoted innovation and innovative businesses in Jamaica. We are very happy that the competition is not just about winning, and that it ensures that all of our business ideas are brought to reality,” Dr. Nathan added.

    The NBMC is designed to encourage and promote the creative and innovative thinking of tertiary students, facilitate local entrepreneurial skills and enhance collaboration and communication between private -sector stakeholders and academia.