(Extracted from the Gleaner dated September 16, 2014)
Caribbean Export Development Agency says it will provide financial support towards the launch of Start Up Jamaica (SUJ), an initiative through which technology companies can access seed capital, training and mentorship in return for equity in the company.
Caribbean Export said the funds would be provided under the Regional Private Sector Development Programme funded by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund.
"This initiative has the potential to be a regional game changer in the transitional development of the region's savvy young people, who are bursting with ideas, into our future entrepreneurial successes," said Caribbean Export's executive director, Pamela Coke-Hamilton.
Caribbean Export said the support offered through the programme is intended to grow the ideas of innovators and entrepreneurs from the region into marketable products and services, while also increasing employment and generating foreign exchange.
The strategy aims to transform Caribbean 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, it added.
Start Up Jamaica is modelled on the very successful Start Up Chile programme, which at pilot stage in 2010, attracted 22 start-up companies from across 14 countries, and now is on track to meet its target of 1,000 participants by the end of this year.
Start Up Jamaica, which will be the first of its kind in the region, has 192 applicants.
Earlier this month SUJ hosted a five-day boot camp for tech entrepreneurs and Caribbean Export said 10 teams will be selected to work with SUJ in partnership with Oasis500 in October 2014.
Oasis500 is a pioneering early stage and seed investment company from the Middle East, which supports entrepreneurs with funding and training.
"Through SUJ, participating start-up companies are expected to be better prepared to pitch to equity investors and receive investments to achieve business growth," said Caribbean Exports.
Other partners in the initiative include the World Bank, LIME and JNBS Foundation.