Fri | Jun 22, 2018

Editors' Forum | Towards a mature entrepreneurial system

Published:Monday | January 15, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Matalon

For angel investors First Angels Jamaica (First AngelsJa), deal flow is important, and they are on an aggressive drive to get it. Deal flow is a process in the investment cycle that commences when an entrepreneur comes forward with an idea or a business to the point where an angel investor takes a position in a company with an eye for growth and all the steps in between.

Director of First AngelsJa, Sandra Glasgow, sees collaboration between the organisation and other agencies as vital to the growth of the emergent business investment climate. She gave a nod to the recent effort which saw 40 entrepreneurs being trained by First AngelJa through sponsorship. The hope is that at least 10 of those will emerge as serious contenders for the attention of angel investors.

"It's a great collaboration for us because finding good deal flow is probably one of the hardest things for us," Glasgow told a Gleaner Editors' Forum last week.

Glasgow's view was supported by another First AngelsJa director, Joseph M. Matalon. Even while he expressed satisfaction at a healthy seven per cent application to deal rate at First AngelsJa, he believes a lot more can happen if investment money can find a suitable home.

"We haven't really found up to now that there is a shortage of capital among the investors, and there is no shortage of willingness to invest in the right deals. The problem that we have had is a problem that goes back to the immaturity of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, we don't get enough qualified deals," Matalon said.

He lamented that there are not enough people coming forward who have the attitude, experience, educational background and expertise to drive the growth and innovation necessary in a new business.

Going forward, Matalon said he wanted to deepen collaboration with agencies such as the Jamaica Business Development Corporation and Jamaican universities, in addition to multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Matalon noted there are encouraging signs in Jamaica's venture-capital ecosystem. He called for a greater emphasis on these positive elements to propel growth in entrepreneurship.

In its four years of operation, members of First AngelsJa have invested more than $100 million in eight projects. For the future, the investors hope to take a position in at least four businesses per year.

neville.graham@gleanerjm.com