The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) has organized an exciting week of events celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) which is being observed internationally during the period November 14 – 20, 2016. In keeping with this year’s international focus, the JBDC will engage Micro, Small & Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) as it relates to investment, new business opportunities and women entrepreneurs under the theme: Empower. Invest. Accelerate.
GEW began in 2007 and is recognized as the world’s largest celebration of innovators and job creators, who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. The aim is to inspire people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators.
This year’s events include: Business Dialogue Forum – B.O.S.S Lady (Building Opportunities for Sweet Success) on Monday the 14th, Raising Capital Forum – Equity Financing without Fear on Tuesday the 15th, Business Pitch Workshop – Pitch Perfect on Wednesday the 16th and the Opportunity Evening – Opportunities in Agro-Processing: The Wealth in Oils on Thursday the 17th. The Business Pitch Workshop is the only event with an admission fee (J$3,000), while the remaining three events require an invitation which may be requested online at www.jbdc.net/gew2016.
“We cannot overstate the importance of access to financing in the development and success of the MSME sector. It is an area we have researched and determined requires special focus and as such it has been a major thrust of the JBDC this year, as we implemented our Financial Support Services Unit to provide capacity building services in financial literacy and financial management practices. Access to financing was also the primary focus of the Small Business Expo in May 2016 and so we are continuing that discussion with GEW,” said Valerie Veira, JBDC CEO.
In advancing the discussion, the JBDC is exploring other forms of financing including equity financing and angel investment. “Traditionally, entrepreneurs have been socialized into borrowing from commercial entities. But the reality is, a loan may not be the best option for some businesses. Yet, it is their comfort zone, as there’s a fear among many when it comes to giving up a share of their business to an investor. The simple message we want to convey is, less is more, meaning your business could be worth more when you share it,” Ms. Veira explained.
Raising Capital will feature presentations and discussions led by industry experts in equity financing from entities including Development Bank of Jamaica, Jamaica Stock Exchange, angel investment and other financial institutions. The event will also see the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the JBDC and First Angels Jamaica. The Business Pitch Workshop will focus primarily on presenting a successful pitch to angel investors and will be led by representatives from Alpha Angels & Sisters’ Ink and will also feature presentations on other forms of investment from the Development Bank of Jamaica and Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA). The highlight of the Business Pitch Workshop will be a Pitch Competition in which entrants will be given one minute to deliver the perfect pitch based on criteria outlined by the judges. The first place winner will be awarded a J$100,000 cash prize.
The Business Dialogue Forum, which has been a regular feature of GEW, will take an interesting turn this year with a focus on women entrepreneurs. The all-female event features an outstanding panel including: Dahlia Harris – Actor, Producer & Cultural Expert, Audrey Hinchcliffe – Managing Director, Manpower & Maintenance Services, Shawna-Kaye Lester – Managing Director, Memorable Essays, Kenia Mattis – CEO, ListenMi Caribbean, Ethnie Miller Simpson – President, Women Entrepreneurs Network of the Caribbean, Yaneek Page – Managing Director, Future Services International and Patrice White – Managing Director, The Dynamic Lifestyle. The findings from the Women in Business report commissioned by WEN Caribbean and executed by JBDC in 2015 will form the basis of this enlightening discussion.
The Opportunity Evening will take a look at the growing agro-processing industry with a view to challenging entrepreneurs to widen their nets by exploring the use of natural oils. “When it comes to agro-processing, we are seeing much emphasis on condiments. But the opportunities in this industry are endless and we want to ensure that our MSMEs are aware of these developments to avoid saturation of one segment and stagnation in another. We are encouraged by the increased usage of coconut oil in particular, but there’s more,” explained Ms. Veira.
According to the Scientific Research Council, in 2014, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries embarked on a drive to have a sustained production of castor oil beans in the island to meet the demand of local and overseas markets. Castor oil beans are used to manufacture a wide variety of products, including lubricants, plastics, paints, and hair and skin care ointments. This would have been the first time that the Government was moving to have the castor plant that grows wildly in many parishes, commercially grown as part of the productive sector. The beans sell for in excess of $250 per pound with one acre of land yielding an average of 1,000 pounds. It is understood that research is also being conducted on the viability of pimento oil. Increasingly, we are seeing the usage of coconut oil in the manufacturing industry, particularly in cosmetics.
“We are encouraging persons to logon to www.jbdc.net/gew2016 to register early as space is limited for all these events which promise to deliver exceptional value,” said Ms. Veira.