Young entrepreneurs prove they're made of more
After several rounds of pitches in the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship and Guinness Made of More Entrepreneurs Challenge, Mandeville-based businesswoman Lacey-Ann Bartley of Bartley's All In Wood got the highest points.
The 26-year-old was among eight business owners who made their final presentations to a panel of seven judges in the ATL Showroom at the Branson Centre in Montego Bay on Friday, September 16.
"It's a win for all of us. We are all building businesses, and this journey has introduced me to some wonderful entrepreneurs. All in Wood is about to buy well-needed machines to meet the demand and systemise our operations," said Bartley, who received a low-interest zero-collateral loan of US$5,000 from the Branson Centre and Arthur Guinness Foundation.
The entrepreneurs were given the opportunity to pitch for a purse of US$130,000 of which US$10,000 was given in grant form to the company that demonstrated the most socially impactful business concept.
Carol Lue of CaribShare Biogas took that prize. The remaining US$120,000 in loans was divided among the entrepreneurs who showed the ability to repay and grow and scale their businesses. Loans were granted to the businesses at a four per cent interest rate.
They were: Theo Smith of Great House Caterers, US$25,000; Craslyn Benjamin of Benlar Foods, US$40,000; Sean Morgan of DMS Dental and Medical Supplies, US$35,000; and Randy McLaren of Bresheh, US$15,000. The competition comes as a result of a two year-old partnership between the Sir Arthur Guinness Project and the Branson Centre for entrepreneurship, Caribbean, geared at providing innovative funding opportunities for local companies and start-ups.
Imru James, brand manager of Guinness, celebrated with the winners at their success in acquiring funding for their businesses.
"The Sir Arthur Guinness Projects are geared at impacting the communities in which we distribute. We believe that we build Jamaica by being a part of social change, and one way that happens is through the growth of small businesses in our locale. Our vision coincides with that of the Branson Centre, so it is a seamless partnership," he said. The competition was judged by local businessmen and women who hail from across local and Caribbean industries.