Mon | May 29, 2017

Nine selected for Branson Centre/Guinness competition

Published:Friday | September 4, 2015 | 9:00 AMDaviot Kelly
Finalists in the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship and Arthur Guinness Fund-sponsored Made of More Entrepreneurs Challenge after being selected. They are (from left) Allison Harrison of Factory 75; Mervin Kerr of Island Integrators; Averell and Hellen French of Mt Pleasant Chocolatiers; Carol Lue of CaribShare Biogas; Jovan Evans of Aqua Flow Products and Services; Marc Laird of Strictly Events; Tamia Harker of This Is Jamaica; Marie Wilson of DejaFrut; and Patria-Kaye Aarons of Sweetie Confectionery Ltd.
Greg Everett (left), operations manager at the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, raps with Averell French of Mt Pleasant Chocolatiers, one of the semi-finalists in the Made of More Entrepreneurs Challenge, held on Tuesday at Red Stripe’s head office, 214 Spanish Town Road.
Levaughn Flynn (left), senior communications manager at Red Stripe, chats with Marie Wilson (right) of DejaFrut, while other entrepreneurs, Hellen French (second left) of Mt Pleasant Chocolatiers and Tamia Harker of This Is Jamaica, look on.
Lisa Lake (right), CEO of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in the Caribbean, chats with competitors in the Made of More Entrepreneurs Challenge (from left): Allison Harrison of Factory 75, Patria-Kaye Aarons of Sweetie Confectionery Ltd, and Jovan Evans of Aqua Flow Products and Services.
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On September 25, nine entrepreneurs will have the chance to access US$130,000 in loans and a US$10,000 grant towards their business enterprise. This after being selected for the final of the Made For More Entrepreneurs Challenge hosted by the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship and the Arthur Guinness Fund. Melissa von Frankenberg, partnerships and communications manager at the Branson Centre, explained that Made For More's genesis was a 'Pitch To Rich' competition involving Sir Richard Branson himself when he visited the island in 2013.

"He gave three personal loans to three entrepreneurs who participated in that pitch event," she said. "That was the initial event that spearheaded what is now an annual event because Guinness has come on board in such a big way." In the first round of the challenge, entrepreneurs had to submit documentation as part of their business pitch, something they are taught at the Branson Centre.

"It was opened up to all of our Branson Centre entrepreneurs. Interested persons submitted, we reviewed them narrowed it down to this group," she said.

On Tuesday, September 1, the 13 'semi-finalists' presented their ideas to the four judges, including Lisa Lake, CEO of the Branson Centre in the Caribbean. The final group was supposed to be eight, but two contestants, Patria-Kaye Aarons of Sweetie Confectionery Limited and Marie Wilson of DejaFrut, tied for eighth.

The other seven finalists are Tamia Harker of This is Jamaica; Marc Laird of Strictly Events; Jovan Evans of Aqua Flow Products and Services; Hellen French of Mt Pleasant Chocolatiers; Mervin Kerr of Island Integrators; Allison Harrison of Factory 75; and Carol Lue of CaribShare Biogas. Lake and the judges were impressed with the pitches contestants produced.

"We are proud of each and every one of you," Lake said. "I had tears in my eyes multiple times today ... . We are so honoured to work, to serve you, to help you reach your goals. I hope this takes you one step further," she said.

Lisandra Rickards, of the Branson Centre, explained that the judges' criteria for scoring the 13 were whether they had the financial ability to take on the loan, whether they will use the funds to grow the company; whether the company will increase its social impact and their presentation skills.

At the finals, scheduled for Montego Bay at the ATL Showroom, the finalists will present to an eight-member panel.

They can pitch for US$130,000; but entrepreneurs are allowed to pitch for up to $40,000 in loans in $5,000 increments." The $10,000 grant will go to the business with the best social enterprise slant.

daviot.kelly@gleanerjm.com