Thu | Aug 24, 2017

START-UP Jamaica got off the mark

Published:Wednesday | September 10, 2014 | 9:00 AM

START-UP JAMAICA (SUJ) moved into gear recently with the start of a five-day intensive workshop for the 60 entrepreneurs who were selected from a large number of applicants to participate in the inaugural phase of the initiative.

SUJ is a strategy devised by the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining to help Caribbean innovators and entrepreneurs grow their businesses, thereby contributing to economic growth, increased employment and generation of foreign exchange.

The strategy

The strategy aims to transform Jamaican and Caribbean young people from being technology consumers to technology creators over the next few years, and to position Jamaica as the hub for entrepreneurship and innovation in the Caribbean.

Minister of state in the ministry of science, technology, energy and mining, Julian Robinson, emphasised that the privileged participants have no room to become complacent, but will have to continue proving themselves through rigorous activities.

"They began the five-day boot camp, which is going to be a very intense boot camp. They will go through their financials and their business models, and really it is done to refine their ideas to ensure that their ideas are scalable on a global basis and to put them in a position where they will be able to compete for 10 spots," Robinson said.

100-day acceleration

Those 10 spots are reserved for a 100-day acceleration programme. "It will start in about October/November. Now the 10 companies selected for the accelerator will be provided with equity investment, Oasis500 is going to invest the equivalent of US$30,000. They (Oasis500) will, in exchange for that, take a stake in the companies; part of that reflects cash and the other represents the support, the guidance and the mentorship they provide in the accelerator," Robinson explained.

"Once we have completed the first batch, probably in about January/February, we will open up applications for the second batch. So, we intend to run a cohort of 10 companies every six months," minister Robinson revealed.

Oasis500 in Jordan, Jamaica National Building Society, LIME and sponsors: National Commercial Bank and the Caribbean Export Development Agency are prepared to ensure that existing early stage companies and start-ups are incubated and provided with the key skills (business and management, technical, legal and accounting, etc.) that will lead the entrepreneurs to a stage of "investment preparedness".

SUJ will support start-ups in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean region.