Business 'boot camp'
Start-up Jamaica begins with 60 technology entrepreneurs
The first batch of technology entrepreneurs in the Start-Up Jamaica initiative began are now in training at the downtown Kingston base of the project.
According to Julian Robinson, minister of state in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, 60 young entrepreneurs were selected from more than 200 applicants around the Caribbean.
During this first week of the 'boot camp', the participants will receive essential business guidance, which will be followed by a business incubator programme for some participants, who will be provided with advice and funding to get their businesses operational.
"Ten of the companies will be selected and they will be put through an accelerator process," said Robinson. "Each selected company will receive US$30,000 in cash and in-kind support."
He noted that private funds will be invested in the companies and Oasis500, a Jordanian development and investment enterprise, is directing the boot camp and the basic business incubator involved in the accelerator process.
Yousef Hamidaddin, chief executive officer of Oasis500, explained that after the boot camp, the entrepreneurs will be taken through an accelerator to get the nuts and bolts of what is required for their business to secure follow-on funding.
According to Hamidaddin, the aim is to move participants to the level where they are capable of proving their business concepts and making sure they are applicable to their objectives and are also scalable. "This also allows people to engage aggressively in an entity that is viable, which works and does well."
Start-Up Jamaica is part of the Government's public-private sector partnership thrust, and the training is taking place in a new business centre located in offices at a downtown Kingston building owned by Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS).
The refurbished 3,200 square feet of office space on the seventh floor of the Duke Street building will facilitate the Start-Up Jamaica project for a period of two years.
"We invested approximately $90 million to make the space available," said Earl Jarrett, general manager of JNBS. He pointed out that the centre will be supported by a newly developed conference room on the sixth floor of the building, which will facilitate direct interactions between entrepreneurs and investors.
Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips noted that the Start-Up Jamaica project is being supported by a loan of US$20 million from the World Bank, while Phillip Paulwell, minister of science, technology, energy and mining, said none of the project funds had yet been drawn down because of the active contributions of by its private and public sector contributors.
Among the contributors addressing the launch were Fabio Pittiluga, World Bank consultant; Garfield Sinclair, chief executive officer of LIME; Milverton Reynolds, managing director, Development Bank of Jamaica; and Nadeen Matthews, senior assistant general manager for marketing and communications at the National Commercial Bank.