Millions in funding for Made of More Challenge
Low-interest zero collateral loans are what entrepreneurs dream of.
Add grant funding and access to business expertise that's second to none, and you're probably delving into the realm of fantasy.
A handful of entrepreneurs will share a total of US$130,000 in loans and grant funding in this year's Made of More Entrepreneurs Challenge, presented by the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship - Caribbean (BCoEC) and the Arthur Guinness Project (AGP).
The competition, which is in its second year, was conceptualised by the BCoEC and AGP. Winning entrepreneurs get much-needed funds to take their businesses to the next level, further enabling them to create jobs and grow revenue.
"The vision of these entrepreneurs is world-class and The Arthur Guinness Project gladly supports any initiative that is income-generating and is socially conscious," said Imru James, brand manager for stouts and Malta at Red Stripe.
"When our loan fund was started in 2013 by our founder, Sir Richard Branson, we knew that it was the beginning of something big. It's thrilling to know that we are now going to have the second staging of the Made of More competition and be able to award more high-potential entrepreneurs with funds they need to move from start-up to 'scale-up'," said Melissa von Frankenberg, partnerships and communications director at BCoEC.
Opened in May
The challenge opened in May with an invitation to entrepreneurs to submit business pitch decks to the BCoEC panel for review. A pool of 84 Branson Centre official entrepreneurs were invited to apply, and from that group, 12 semi-finalists were shortlisted to participate in a series of intensive pitch preparation sessions conducted by BCoEC.
Round two of the contest is the live boardroom pitch competition, which takes place on August 19 and from which eight finalists will emerge.
"We are looking for entrepreneurs who are aware of their social and environmental footprint, who will see transformative growth in their company and will be able to give a great pitch," said James.
Finalists then prepare for the grand finals on September 16 at the ATL Automotive Showroom and Branson Centre Accelerator Space in Montego Bay. Three to five entrepreneurs will become loan and grant winners.