JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Several technology (tech) entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to establish formal businesses, following their participation in an acceleration programme that will be offered under the Government’s ‘Start Up Jamaica’ initiative.
  • Middle-East based accelerator company, Oasis500, which trains and funds startup tech companies, has decided to partner with the Government under the initiative, to invest in tech entrepreneurs who are interested in going through the required process for selection.
  • ‘Start Up Jamaica’ which is expected to be launched later this year, seeks to provide mentorship and other business support for aspiring and new technology entrepreneurs.

Several technology (tech) entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to establish formal businesses, following their participation in an acceleration programme that will be offered under the Government’s ‘Start Up Jamaica’ initiative.

Middle-East based accelerator company, Oasis500, which trains and funds startup tech companies, has decided to partner with the Government under the initiative, to invest in tech entrepreneurs who are interested in going through the required process for selection.

This was disclosed by State Minister for Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson while addressing the opening of Katalyxt’s 2014 Business Development Conference at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on Thursday, May 15.
‘Start Up Jamaica’ which is expected to be launched later this year, seeks to provide mentorship and other business support for aspiring and new technology entrepreneurs.

Mr. Robinson noted that the Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Oasis500, which has committed to 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.

He informed that the process to become a part of the accelerator programme will start a Preparation Boot Camp in August, “where we can provide some of the basic training and guidance for these young entrepreneurs before you even get to the stage where you’re pitching to get into the accelerator”.

 

The State Minister said the boot camp, which is tentatively set for August 11 to 15, is intended to attract between 35 and 40 entrepreneurs.

He said that following the boot camp, business model training will be provided for participants, giving them an opportunity to pitch their ideas to be a part of the accelerator.

He further noted that if they are accepted into the accelerator programme, the funding to be provided by Oasis500, to establish their businesses will be in exchange for a stake in company.

“We will help them to establish a formal company and the entity (Oasis500) will take a percentage (which will have to be worked out), and then you are put through this acceleration process which is approximately 100 days or four months, where you will have very specific milestones and timeframes within which you have to accomplish particular things,” the Minister he explained.

Mr. Robinson further explained that at the end of the acceleration phase, it is expected that the companies would have either built or developed a prototype, finalised their business plans and will now be in a position to go to the next level in the establishment of their businesses.

He noted that additional funding will be necessary at this stage because the US$30,000 will only sustain a company for the 100 days. “If you are going to move to the next the level, you’re going to need new rounds of funding, and this is where I think there is an opportunity for (angel investment),” he stated.

In this vein, he informed that an angel investor network is to be established to accommodate either individuals or organisations who want an opportunity to invest in some of these companies.

In the meantime, the State Minister informed that the Government has established a number of partnerships with both public and private sector organisations in the implementation of ‘Start up Jamaica’.

 

He informed that an MoU has been signed with Jamaica National, which will be providing the physical facilities for ‘Start Up Jamaica’ at its Duke Street offices.

Mr. Robinson further informed that telecommunications company, LIME, has also partnered with the Government to build out the facility and provide the Internet connectivity. Meanwhile, the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) is funding the initial stages of establishing the organisation.
It 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.

It 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.

Held under the theme ‘Business Growth Through Innovation and Efficiency’, the two-day conference was organised by Katalyxt, which is the business development division of Mint Management and Financial Services Limited. The division facilitates growth and development of small and medium-sized enterprises in Jamaica.