Five entrepreneurs get US$130K funding
The Made of More Entrepreneurs Challenge presented by Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship - Caribbean (BCoEC) and the Arthur Guinness Project ended successfully with five entrepreneurs securing a total of US$130,000 in financing to grow their businesses.
After two rounds of elimination, eight entrepreneurs made it to yesterday's final round, where they presented their elevator pitches to a panel of seven judges and before an audience of fellow entrepreneurs and business leaders. The final event was a roaring success, which even included a virtual drop-in by Virgin Group founder, Sir Richard Branson.
The finals were held in Montego Bay at the ATL Showroom and BCoEC's accelerator space. All eight finalists who participated are Branson Centre official entrepreneurs who have completed the centre's business skills-training programme will continue to receive entrepreneur development support through its accelerator service offerings.
"Through the multiple rounds of the competition and the hard work and preparation they put into their presentations, we have seen them grow and blossom. They demonstrate the breadth and depth of the talent that we have in the BCoEC programme, and they were ready and able to take on some funding in their businesses. We are happy that, along with our partners Arthur Guinness Project, we are able to provide it to them," said Rickards.
The Arthur Guinness Project donated US$400,000 to BCoEC's access to finance initiative. Through the annual Made of More Entrepreneurs Challenge, the money will be lent to Branson Centre Official Entrepreneurs over a three-year period.
REVOLVING LOAN FUND
Jamaica National Small Business Loans, the loan facilitator, has extended a special facility to BCoEC, which enables it to provide no-collateral, low-interest loans. All repayments go back into a revolving loan fund to sustain the pool and support other entrepreneurs in the future.
"The entrepreneurial spirit and ideas that were showcased in the final pitch event was exciting and encouraging," said LeVaughn Flynn, senior communications manager at Red Stripe. "The legacy of many of Diageo's brands has been built by entrepreneurship and bold thinking, with Guinness being one of the biggest successes. We're proud to have created a partnership with the Branson Centre that not only rewards brilliant entrepreneurial ideas, but also their social impact to Jamaica and its people."
First-place winners were Hellen and Averell French of Mount Pleasant Farm Chocolatiers. They also won the Sir Arthur Guinness Social Entrepreneur Award.
Second place went to Patria-Kaye Aarons of Sweetie Confectionery, and third-place winner was Marie Wilson of DeJaFrut.