NCU Goes For Fifth Straight Win in DBJ Business Model Competition

Photo: Donald De La Haye Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) Managing Director, Milverton Reynolds (right), shares a joke with Scotiabank Jamaica’s Executive Vice President for Retail Banking, Audrey Tugwell-Henry, during the recent launch of the DBJ’s fifth annual National Business Model Competition at The Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston.

Story Highlights

  • Northern Caribbean University (NCU) will be seeking to maintain its dominance of the Development Bank of Jamaica’s (DBJ) National Business Model Competition (NBMC) for tertiary institutions when it contests this year’s renewal slated for The Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, from March 22 to 23.
  • The annual competition is designed to encourage and promote the creative and innovative thinking of students, facilitate local entrepreneurship, and enhance collaboration and communication between private-sector stakeholders and academia.
  • The Mandeville, Manchester-based institution will seek to fend off challenges from the University of the West Indies (UWI), University of Technology (UTech), and Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA), and maintain pole position.

Northern Caribbean University (NCU) will be seeking to maintain its dominance of the Development Bank of Jamaica’s (DBJ) National Business Model Competition (NBMC) for tertiary institutions when it contests this year’s renewal slated for The Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, from March 22 to 23.

The annual competition is designed to encourage and promote the creative and innovative thinking of students, facilitate local entrepreneurship, and enhance collaboration and communication between private-sector stakeholders and academia.

NCU will face off against three other institutions in the March 22 semi-finals, in the hope of advancing to the final a day later for the fifth consecutive year and win the competition it has topped since the initiative’s inception in 2014.

The Mandeville, Manchester-based institution will seek to fend off challenges from the University of the West Indies (UWI), University of Technology (UTech), and Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA), and maintain pole position.

The institutions have entered a total of 14 teams. NCU, UWI and UTech will each be represented by four teams; and EMCVPA, two.

If NCU is successful, this will enable the institution to continue its run of sending teams to represent Jamaica at the International Business Model Competition (IBMC), which is slated for Utah in the United States in May.

NCU teams that have distinguished themselves in the IBMC over the years are Herboo Enterprises – the inaugural NBMC winner in 2014, which placed eighth; JarGro – the 2015 champion, which was a semi-finalist; Guardana Inc – the 2016 winner, which finished sixth; and Natsima Nutraceuticals – the 2017 champion, which placed fourth.

Addressing the competition’s launch earlier this year at The Knutsford Court, Dean of NCU’s College of Business and Management, Dr. Audley Eccles, spoke glowingly of the NBMC, while lauding the DBJ for initiating the competition.

“At NCU, we recognise that the National Business Model Competition is much more than just a competition. For us, it is an opportunity to introduce students across all disciplines to entrepreneurship… and more importantly to entrepreneurship as a viable career option. It’s about igniting that entrepreneurial spirit that we seem to have as a people, and nurturing it and showing students the possibilities that exist,” he said.

Dr. Eccles also commended the various partners on the NBMC, including the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), noting that consequent on its implementation, “I am certain (that) the number of youth entrepreneurs has been steadily increasing nationally.”

“NCU is totally committed to this programme and will continue to seek out and harness the talents and creativity of students and mobilise them to participate in this (initiative),” he added.

For his part, DBJ Managing Director, Milverton Reynolds, noted the sterling work undertaken by the universities, as well as the ongoing support of sponsors, coordinators and other partners over the past four years “to make the competition the success it has been so far”.

“All the stakeholders in this competition deserve full credit in this quest that we have to prepare Jamaica’s future leaders and business owners,” he said.

Project Coordinator for the DBJ’s Jamaica Venture Capital Programme, Audrey Richards, who manages the NBMC, noted that the traction and support that the competition has gained enabled student entrepreneurs to excel on the international stage “from the very first year”.

She pointed out that the NBMC exposes students to a framework that allows them to become investment-ready by taking their ideas through a process of reviews and pivoting, where necessary, to ensure that “when they do face an investor, they have thought through all aspects of their businesses and can actually… access capital”.

“The commitment of the students is tremendous, as hundreds start the competition each year, and although there is a selection process to (determine) the finalists, the kind of balancing act that they have to go through in building their businesses while continuing the academic work, really shows their mettle,” Mrs. Richards noted.

For her part, Vice President for New Business Development and Strategy at PanJam Investments, this year’s NBMC Platinum Sponsor, Joanna Banks, noted that the participating teams “embody the characteristics of true entrepreneurship”.

She pointed out that they are passionate, curious, fearless “and, most importantly, open to meaningful feedback that we gave them”.

“They aren’t afraid to fail, because failure meant they learnt something… and that learning experience is a key element of the business model on which this competition is founded,” the PanJam Vice President added.

In describing the NBMC as a “fantastic launching pad” for these types of entrepreneurs, Ms. Banks noted that past winners have gone on to perform well at the international level.

“All of the participants – past, present and those to come – represent a bright future for Jamaica. I look forward to an interesting and competitive event filled with exciting presentations,” she added.

Meanwhile, the PSOJ’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jennifer McDonald, attributed the NBMC’s growth to the “resources, tremendous dedication, support and guidance that have been invested in this initiative”.

She noted that the NBMC focuses on improving the inputs that are channelled into business development, and applauded the effort to promote innovation and alternative approaches to income generation.

The CEO also lauded the DBJ and other partners for their collaboration in advancing the NBMC, and assured that “the PSOJ stands ready to support your team in whatever way possible”.

“To our competitors, we wish you all the best (and) look forward to your full creative and innovative spirits. We are all proud of the strides that you have made and stand ready to cheer the winner on as you represent us in international competition,” Mrs. McDonald added.

Other sponsors of this year’s NBMC are the Inter-American Development Bank, PetroCaribe Fund, Musson Foundation, Restaurant Associates Limited, GK Capital Management, Scotiabank, Sagicor Group, and the NCB Foundation.

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