Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
Determined not to stumble into the pitfalls of the past that derailed previous venture-capital programmes, the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) is pushing an ambitious slate of initiatives aimed at building a sustainable venture-capital agenda to equip the small and medium sectors to play an integral role in driving the economy.
DBJ Chairman Joseph M. Matalon stressed yesterday that his initiative would not be haunted by ghosts of the past.
He said the state-owned company, mandated to foster economic growth and development, planned to strategically steer clear of the obstacles that sabotaged previous venture-capital programmes, but warned that such an outcome would not materialise overnight.
"We are very concerned that we should avoid the pitfalls that we fell into in previous efforts and are seized with the need to design a programme around international best practices," Matalon asserted.
He pointed to the DBJ's one-day conference titled 'Advancing Innovation & Entrepreneurship Opportunities - Seeding Tomorrow's Opportunities,' scheduled to get underway on September 9.
Not reinventing the wheel
Matalon stressed that the intention was not to reinvent the wheel but to focus instead on what has worked in other economies and seek to adapt those practices to the needs of the local environment.
He said in an effort to right the wrongs of the past, this time around DBJ's consultant to the venture-programme, Audrey Richards - with the assistance of the Inter-American Development Bank through the multilateral investment funds and a number of local and international consultants - has been "literally pounding the pavement and undergoing a learning process".
Matalon disclosed that the Richards-led team has completed a market review analysis of the local investment community in particular reference to the venture-capital arrangements.
"The team has drafted a strategic and implementation plan that is now being reviewed by the project steering committee and other decision makers peripheral to the programme," he said.
The DBJ chairman disclosed that the team has also completed a review of the legal regulatory framework as it relates to venture capital and is now developing recommendations for an appropriate regime for Jamaica.
For her part, Richards said consultations with stakeholders revealed that while Jamaicans were interested in a joint-venture programme, one of the gaps that required urgent attention was a lack of knowledge of its workings.
She stressed that "the need for training and capacity-building over the next three years" was critical.