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Jamaican Startup Wins Regional Innovation Award

Published:Sunday | April 19, 2015 | 12:00 AM

While the attention in Panama was focused on the historic presence of Cuba at the Summit of the Americas, another historic event was also taking place in Panama City.

A Jamaican startup, Agrocentral, walked away winner of the economic innovation award at the 10th edition of the Talent and Innovation Competition of the Americas (TIC).

Agrocentral was among 32 teams from 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that were selected from a total of 2,734 teams to participate in the finals of the competition.

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Speaking with The Gleaner, Jermaine Henry, the 24-year-old chief executive officer (CEO) of the company, said he got the idea for Agrocentral while participating in an event hosted by ConnectiMass in Jamaica.

Agrocentral is a platform that allows farmers to sell their produce online to retailers.

"The platform is still in beta stage, but we have tested it and are set to launch it in July," Henry said.

He went on to explain that the platform has gained traction among farmers.

"Right now we are in the sales stage. I have been meeting with farmers and they are very excited and open to using it. We have been trying to get farmers to pool together so we can get economies of scale when selling to larger buyers," he said.

Henry also explained that he has identified buyers who are interested in making use of the platform.

"We have started to talk to some of the large buyers. Our target market includes agro-processors, supermarkets, hotels and restaurants."

Agrocentral walked away with a prize award of US$5,000. The funds, Henry said, will be used to improve the platform.

"We plan to put the money to development cost to completely finish the platform in time for the launch," he said.