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Investor Network to be launched to support Start up Jamaica Initiative

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An Angel Investor Network will be launched shortly to fund projects under the Start Up Jamaica Initiative after the first 100 days.

Start Up Jamaica is an initiative being undertaken by the Government over a five-year period to provide capital, mentorship and technical assistance to young tech-entrepreneurs who have ideas and concepts, but do not have the wherewithal to start a business.

Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on July 1, Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson, said the Network is to provide further funding to these persons,  since the seed capital is only for the first 100 days.

“We provide an opportunity for them to have access to people who have money and who want to invest in their businesses… and they will have an opportunity to pitch their ideas to them,” the State Minister said.

An angel investor is an early stage person  who puts  money in a company before the larger equity investors come in, such  as friends, family and other supporters. The Government is formalizing the Network, as there are individuals willing to invest in entrepreneurs.

Seed capital for Start Up Jamaica results from a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that the Government signed with Oasis500, a Middle East-based accelerator company, which has committed to providing US$30,000 to each entrepreneur in the initiative. Fifty per cent of the sum is cash and the remainder is mentorship, training and other business support.

The State Minister pointed out that the Network will also provide mentorship to the tech-entrepreneurs. “So, part of the programme, once they finish the 100 days, is that they will have access to a network of funders. They will have access to a network of mentors too, because one of the things we’re going to do with Start up Jamaica is, on a voluntary basis, to invite successful business persons and executives to become mentors to these companies,” he added.

Mr. Robinson said that after completing the 100-day accelerator period, the tech-entrepreneurs should be attractive to investors who are looking for alternative ways of investing.

“If you’re an investor, you’re more likely to invest in an entrepreneur who has been through a rigorous 100-day process, than somebody who comes off the road and say:  ‘I have an idea and I’m looking for your money’,” the State Minister said.

Mr. Robinson argued that the initiative could be a source of growth and partnership with the private sector, as some of the mentors may employ the tech-entrepreneurs and invest in their businesses

By Shanique Simpson

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