[CONTENTS] [News] 6 government unveils plans to transform jamaica into global logistic hub
The government recently unveiled its ambitious plan to transform Jamaica into a global logistics hub for the Americas and position it as the fourth pillar in the global supply and logistics chain alongside Singapore, Dubai and Rotterdam. The initiative is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce.
[business lounge] 14 jc ahead of the curve
A group of young men, clad in white shirts, blue pants and blue and white striped ties gather around a small, metallic robot, demonstrating how it works using video game remote controls and monitoring the movements on a laptop at a nearby table. They are members of the Jamaica College Robotics Club, part of the core team that will be competing in the First Tech Challenge (FTC), an annual robotics competition that allows students to compete head-to-head using a sports model.
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[insights] 17 new vw commercial + more
Our editors give their opinions on three of the biggest news stories making the rounds at the moment - Volkswagen’s Get Happy ad, the launch of the new BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 smartphones and the new Vine app from Twitter.
11 una revolución educativa @ el centro Rachael McDonald, Founder and Director of the bilingual education programme, Fundaciones. It is hard to imagine this kinetic educator and entrepreneur as a doctor, but McDonald was well on her way to becoming a paediatrician when, seemingly out of the blue, she had a change of heart.
hat is the most important resource any country possesses? It’s not the land, nor oil, nor gold and other metals; neither is it diamonds or precious stones. It is the human resources, the potential within each person to learn and grow and make a contribution to developing his/her country.
[do good] 18 jamaica junior theatre: inspiring, entertaining and giving back
The Jamaica Musical Theatre Company (JMTC) and daughter company, the Jamaica Junior Theatre (JJT) have been entertaining Jamaican audiences for decades. Founder Douglas Bennett established these organisations in 1960 and 1983, respectively, to promote the performing arts in Jamaica. However, this was not their only mission: both are non-profit organisations and have contributed more than $3 million, raised through their annual productions, to various causes since their early days.
[ s ta r t u p s ] 21 ‘pitch’ perfect: infodev/cida launch programme to aid caribbean tech start ups
You have a great business idea and have invested all your savings (and loans from family and friends) into making it a reality. You may have tried approaching banks and other potential financiers with the hope that they will see the potential in your idea as much as you do; yet you remain at wit’s end trying to raise enough money to launch your company. Don’t you wish a venture capitalist or an angel investor would just appear, bearing financial gifts like the proverbial tooth fairy?
In Jamaica, we hear time and again how important it is to invest in this priceless resource in the form of education. Billions of dollars are spent annually to support education at all levels, from early childhood to tertiary, yet the news tells us a different story. Over the past five years, Jamaica has recorded consistently declining performances in the regional Caribbean Certificate of Secondary Education (CSEC) exams, especially in mathematics and the sciences. It is a similar report at the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) level, where many schools record dismal statistics in mathematics. Ministry of Education officials are now scrambling to halt the decline and find solutions that can help Jamaica’s children to perform at peak levels. In the meantime, there are the occasional success stories: the student who achieves 12 CSEC distinctions, the ones who achieve 100 per cent across the board in GSAT, the school that, of its own accord, starts a new programme that reaps great rewards. These are the stories that keep us hopeful that an educational revolution can indeed occur in this country and we can save our children. For this our first education issue, we highlight the strides being made by Rachael McDonald and her bi-lingual educational programme, Fundaciones, which is laying a practical foundation for her young charges as they grow up in a globalised environment where a second language is almost a necessity. We also look at two non-traditional programmes at Jamaica College, robotics and aviation, that are preparing students to take advantage of emerging career fields. The aim of education is to prepare students to be successful adults and these two institutions are leading the way in that regard. Undoubtedly, there are other schools in Jamaica going above and beyond to deliver the best education to their students and we salute their efforts. We want to highlight more of these success stories in the future and hope other institutions are inspired to create new opportunities for their students today, so that they can become upstanding adults of tomorrow.
GOVERNMENT The government recently unveiled its ambitious plan to transform Jamaica into a global logistics hub for the Americas and position it as the fourth pillar in the global supply and logistics chain alongside Singapore, Dubai and Rotterdam.The initiative is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce. Here are some of the key points: Jamaicaâ€™s logistics hub will consist of world-class seaports (handling containers, dry bulk and liquid bulk commodities), airports, special economic zones, free zones, logistics parks, logistics centres, integrated intermodal transport capabilities, supporting infrastructure, telecommunications and trade facilitation mechanisms. Several cornerstone projects have already been proposed, including the development of the Caymanas Special Economic Zone (CEZ) as part of a broader urban development plan called the Caymanas Estate Development Plan. The Urban Development Corporation (UDC) and the Factories Corporation of Jamaica (FCJ) will simultaneously develop 10,000 acres of the Caymanas estate for various purposes such as recreational, residential, and commercial usage. The CEZ will focus on the key sectors of distribution, manufacturing, agro-processing and creative industries. Eric Deans, Chairman of the Logistics Task Force, said a market of 800 million persons, including the USA and Brazil, can be readily accessed from Jamaica.The expansion of the Panama Canal, scheduled to be completed in 2015 along with the multi-billion stimulus package by Brazil for World Cup 2014 and Olympics 2016 and the growing middle classes across Latin American countries will create unprecedented opportunities. Large corporations and logistics service providers will be encouraged to set up operations, control towers, headquarters and BPOs in Jamaica.The government is already in discussion with prospective partners and is looking for new ones. Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce emphasised that a critical aspect of the global logistics hub initiative is the broadening of bilateral collaborations with Jamaicaâ€™s global partners and encouraging private sector investment and financing through private-public partnerships (PPPs). It is necessary to have a work force prepared for these opportunities; therefore, there will be investment in human resource development through education and training, along with infrastructure and social development and enabling legislation.
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en ax ips
Filing Your Income Tax Returns
Due Date the due date for filing income tax returns is March 15. Remember you are required to file your annual return for 2012 and estimated return for 2013.
aPPlY IncoMe tax changes to 2013 as of January 1, 2013 the income tax threshold is increased to $507,312 for individuals and the corporate income tax rate reduced to 25% for unregulated companies. Remember these changes must only be applied in relation to the tax year 2013. Companies regulated by the FSC, OUR, BOJ and MoFP still pay at the rate of 33 1/3%.
use coRRect foRM using the incorrect form may have an implication on how you or your business is categorised. this is particularly important for pensioners or employees, who have no other source of income and are taxed at source, but are claiming a refund on tax paid in excess of their actual liability. Individuals who are self-employed or employed with other sources of income should use the It01 form, while individuals whose only income is taxed at source, e.g. PaYe or withholding tax, should use the It05 form. companies use the It02.
coMPlete foRM PRoPeRlY It is important that all relevant sections of the income tax form are filled in properly. Basic information such as name, tRn and address are important. It is also vitally important that accounting information, such as gross sales/ income, total expenses, net profit, deductions and tax computation are all filled in on the form. fIle onlIne It is more convenient and cost effective to file tax returns online, instead of having to wait in line at a tax office. filing online though the Jamaica tax Portal (JtP) at www. jamaicatax-online.gov.jm allows for 24/7 access. to file online, a onetime registration is required. Contact the TAJ Customer Care Centre at 1-888-TAX-HELP (829-4357) for details.
fIle eaRlY file early to avoid the last minute rush. traffic in the tax office, as well as on the JtP gets busier the closer it gets to the March 15 income tax deadline.
KeeP RecoRDs It is in your best interest to keep good records as these can benefit you. Well-kept records may shorten the length of time for an audit; remind you about deductible expenses and credits that you are entitled to; verify your business expenses; keep you informed about the financial position of your business.
fIle RetuRn even If You have a loss all businesses, whether operated as an individual, partnership or company, are required to file a tax return even if the business makes a loss. In fact it is in your interest to report the loss, as currently the law allows for business losses to be carried forward indefinitely. this may be used to off-set future profit.
PaY soMethIng If not the full aMount file your return on time and pay as much as you can then, allowing you to cut down on interest charges. While you have to make a â€œdown paymentâ€? to the taJ on or by the March 15, you will have to pay interest to the taJ on what you owe, plus any penalties. Remember also that in relation to the estimated return for 2013, payments are due quarterly, March 15, June, 15, September 15 and December 15.
seeK helP If you are not sure how to go about filing your returns or you need assistance, the taJ is now offering its annual special taxpayer assistance Programme across the island. this programme is primarily to assist businesses earning less than 3 million dollars. Information is also available in the income tax hub on the taJ website www. jamaicatax.gov.jm
Visit the Tax Administration website for more information
[business lounge] r e a l b u s i n e s s . r e a l ta l k
una revolución educativa @ el centro
er appearance belies that of a typical teacher. Dressed in blue jeans, a white polo shirt and her hair pulled into a ponytail, she could even pass for a teenager. Her movements are animated as she swivels in her office chair, checks the video streams from the cameras installed within each classroom and fiddles with her smartphone. She even breaks out in song, one of the little ditties her teachers use to educate and entertain the two-year-olds in their care. Yes, a fly on the wall would have a field day observing the delight that is Rachael McDonald, Founder and Director of the bilingual education programme, Fundaciones. It is hard to imagine this kinetic educator and entrepreneur as a doctor, but McDonald was well on her way to becoming a paediatrician when, seemingly out of the blue, she had a change of heart. “I’ve always enjoyed children ever since I was a child, but I never thought I’d make money working with children in this way,” says McDonald, who is from a family of doctors. “I guess something just happened on the way to the forum and I was like, ‘I’m not going to do medicine. Let’s just major in Spanish.’ So I have a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a Masters degree in Education. I really like Spanish. I really like education. I don’t know which one I like more.” The Foundations Luckily, she didn’t have to choose. Displaying a strong entrepreneurial spirit since her days at Campion College, where at 16 years old she started a summer camp, McDonald was able to combine both her passions to create Fundaciones (meaning ‘foundations’) in 2008. Working out of her home, McDonald was the “head cook
“Our methodology right across the board is just different. we sing, we use a lot of rhymes, chants, drama, art and craft – lots of music and movement. we all know that rachael mcdonald does not sit still; therefore, she’s going to rely on a learning style that encompasses that.”
and bottle washer,” teaching Spanish to anybody who wanted to learn. However, over the past four years, the company has grown to include a larger number of students and tutors. The flagship programme, Al Mundo (To the World), offers bi-lingual pre-school and pre-kindergarten education and there is a raft of other programmes for different age groups, as well as classes in French and Mandarin. In order to serve the growing number of students, Fundaciones acquired its current location, El Centro (The Centre), on Hillcrest Avenue in St Andrew in 2009. As such, many people now refer to the school simply as El Centro. At the top of the year, McDonald expanded further with the launch of Fundaciones, Montego Bay. In spite of operational expansion, McDonald and her team of dedicated profesoras have remained true to the core offerings at Fundaciones. “We still offer the fundamentals in any subject area for kids 18 months to 18 years – Mathematics, English, foreign languages, chemistry, science, etc,” she explains. “We kept the name because we believe in the value of a second language and also in giving kids the fundamentals. Once you have the fundamentals, you can learn, you can explore, you can discover.” Learn, Explore, Discover The key to McDonald’s success at Fundaciones is the incorporation of technology and play as key components. “Our methodology right across the board is just different. We sing, we use a lot of rhymes, chants, drama, art and craft – lots of music and movement. We all know that Rachael McDonald does not sit still; therefore, she’s going to rely on a learning style that encompasses that,” she laughs. To encourage the children’s innate curiousity, Fundaciones incorporates thematic open-air play once a month, where their parents get involved. “We’ve done some wild things,” McDonald chuckles. These ‘wild’ playdates included, ‘I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More,’ where kids, teachers and parents created paintings using their hands, feet, balloons, sponges and other random objects; a ‘bug play’ and an ‘earthworm play’
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“Think and wonder, wonder and think” - Dr. Seuss with both real and fake critters and an ‘icky-sticky-ooeygooey’ play that involved mud, sugar, flour, cornmeal and other sticky materials. McDonald and her team also use iPads and laptops in the classroom and even occasionally incorporate remote learning, now that there is a second location.“We’ve been using Skype a lot. We have cameras so you can see what’s happening throughout the centre and we use technology to link our locations. I was in Montego Bay and my students were in Kingston and we held a Skype class. I was able to see what they were doing here and I was able to talk to them and use screen shots. We want to be able to have some sort of continuity right across the board,” she explains. Educando el Caribe This approach certainly stands out in Jamaica’s traditional education sector, but McDonald’s success is testament that it works – and parents are willing to pay for what works. “In the past year, we added a pre-kindergarten just because the children were learning so well and the parents were so pleased,” McDonald shares. Fundaciones will also be adding a kindergarten programme later this year. McDonald may be passionate about Spanish and education, but make no mistake, she is a savvy business woman who has her sights set on expanding the Fundaciones brand of interactive, immersive learning across the entire region. She is currently assessing the regional markets to determine whether to set up permanent locations or continue operating only summer programmes. “Our tagline is ‘Educando el Caribe’ – educating the Caribbean – and that’s something that we intend to do. We’ve actually done summer camps in Caribbean islands for the past couple years. We’re working on that again this year,” she says. Giving Back is Important, Too Ingrained in the Fundaciones methodology is the principle of giving back. This is demonstrated through
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Older children (seven to eight years old) read literature classics and engage in activities that develop critical thinking, reasoning and group work skills. Books include Call of the Wild, Treasure Island, Wizard of Oz and Tuck Everlasting, which saw the students debating the pros and cons of living forever.
Geo Trackers its Giving Paper project, which uses students’ artwork as wrapping paper designs and donates funds from the sales to the paediatric ward at University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI). McDonald and her team have also conducted GSAT classes in Woodford Park in Central Kingston, which were well attended. “We believe in getting our programmes across, even if it means we’re not going to get any money for it,” she stated. Now that she is fully engrossed in the daily operations of Fundaciones, McDonald doesn’t do as much teaching as she did in the early days. She is, however, content with her new role: “I like guiding. I like inspiring. I like sharing. I like working with my teachers. I like planning and implementing.” This extends to her team, as they regularly work with other early childhood teachers, sharing ideas and offering support. “I don’t think teachers in Jamaica get as much support as they need, especially young teachers. I want to see more of a synergy, more support going on with more schools,” she declares. “Education is not just something that happens at school in a classroom. Education relies on all stakeholders – grandma, grandpa, the pedestrian crosser, everybody has to take a more vested interest in what happens to our children.”
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This geography and social studies-based programme helps to raise tolerance by teaching the students about different cultures as they ‘visit’ a different country during each class. It was especially popular during the recent London Olympics and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Instructors have used real money to teach conversions and pizzas to teach fractions. In order to eat it, students must get the fraction question correct. Elements of magic have also been used to teach symmetry.
This is the most popular class and is the only programme of its kind in Jamaica, with real scientists and real experiments that inspire creativity and critical thinking. “Jamaicans like the idea of science. Everybody wants their kids to be strong in science because they want their kids to be doctors and engineers,” says McDonald.
JCTHEAHEAD OF CURVE A
group of young men, clad in white shirts, blue pants and blue and white striped ties gather around a small, metallic robot, demonstrating how it works using video game remote controls and monitoring the movements on a laptop at a nearby table. They are members of the Jamaica College Robotics Club, part of the core team that will be competing in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), an annual robotics competition that allows students to compete head to head using a sports model. This March will be the club’s fourth year participating in the challenge. Last year, as the sole international entrants, they placed third out of 72 contenders – a huge improvement from 2010, when they placed second to last. Each year, the robots are designed to carry out a particular function. For this year’s challenge, called ‘Ring it Up!’ they are supposed to place rings on pegs set up on a specially designed playing field. The club, guided by faculty advisor Georgia Rudolph-Blake, is shoring up its chances this year by entering two teams with two robots that complement each other. The first robot, the Gold Griffin, has already been built. The second, the Blue Griffin, is under construction. I, Robot Robotics is one of the fast-growing emerging careers of the 21st century. According to the International Federation of Robotics, more than one million jobs will be created in the field over the next five years. As the only school in Jamaica offering a robotics programme, JC has ensured that its students are prepared to take advantage of these opportunities. As a result, there is an added business focus within the club’s operations. According to lower school Vice Principal Rohan Wong, who was instrumental in establishing the club in 2009, “There is a business plan for the club, in which we project where it will be in the next five years and how it will get the finances to go abroad, get the kits and so on,” he explains.
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Currently, the club needs to raise more than $1.2 million to send its 16-member cohort to the FTC. A portion of the cost is borne by sponsors Mother’s and WISYNCO through its Wata brand, which have contributed $600,000. The club is still trying to raise the remaining funds by hosting regular fundraising events such as bumper sticker sales and monthly tag drives. The practical application of the principles learned in science and computer classes has also helped past club members to find their callings. Building and operating the robots require programming, architectural and engineering skills, so several graduates have gone on to pursue these programmes at colleges both locally and overseas. One notable graduate is Tsun-Kit Man, a member of last year’s team, who is now studying aerospace technology overseas. FIRST also offers a scholarship programme, is currently valued at US$16 million. Head Boy and club president Gavin Samuels is looking forward to applying for scholarships after the competition, to study computer science at the tertiary level and become a software engineer. Taking to the skies The school also offers the Jamaica College Aviation Programme, the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean. The programme is offered in partnership www.ezinesreader.com
with The Flying Club and is approved by the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA) as a licensed ground school. The curriculum, offered to upper school students, entails modules such as flight theories, engine operations and maintenance, meteorology to understand safe flying conditions, navigation, map reading techniques, Jamaican air law and more. â€œThe programme is focused on giving students a career opportunity in an emerging area. This is an unprecedented opportunity for Jamaica to seize in the logistics industry,â€? says Principal Ruel Reid. There are also plans afoot to integrate the aviation programme into the schoolâ€™s
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curriculum permanently, but no timeline has been set for this. At $18,000 per student, these classes are quite the investment, but the potential career benefits are undeniable and Reid notes that an opportunity exists for private sector companies to partner with the school to provide scholarships. According to US-based WiredPRNews. com, a pilot shortage is on the horizon due to a wave of retirements and new laws that will regulate the amount of experience pilots must have to be able to work with commercial airlines.
RESPEC’, BOSS MAN! Volkswagen has a history of producing outstanding commercials.This year, they took it up several notches by pre-releasing their ad ahead of the Super Bowl to show off the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle, used the Get Happy track from Jimmy Cliff and the protagonist of the commercial, Dave, spoke in a Jamaican accent. Double win. Or so was the general consensus. Moments after it was launched, the ad was condemned as ‘racist.’ The controversy propelled the viewership skyward and within three days, it had racked up 1.8 million views on Youtube. In response to the outcry, Volkswagen
released an official statement and a marketing officer let on that:“We actually talked to about 100 Jamaicans in the research, and we had a speech coach on site to make sure it was authentic as possible.” Contrary to minority beliefs that the superimposed accent is racist and that it reinforces negative stereotypes of Jamaican people, it is pretty spectacular that VW chose to glorify Jamaicans as happy and freespirited people.The lines were well delivered by Dave and humorous to boot. We should be honoured.
BLACKBERRY 10 LAUNCHES. IS IT TOO LATE? RIM announced a re-invented product and Peek allows users to review new mail without company in a global launch on Wednesday, January closing any other app you were using. 30. The newly unveiled devices, the Blackberry Blackberry Balance allows those using the device Z10 and Q10, become available in the US and UK for both business and personal purposes to as of March. separate their applications and files. The three distinct user experiences are: The Blackberry Hub allows users to view and respond to any communication (email, text, BBM and social media) without leaving the ‘hub,’ avoiding having to constantly switch between apps.
There also was the introduction of video-enabled BBM with document, screen-sharing capability and the virtual keyboard experience, which is both predictive and provides multi-language support. Impressed? Will you switch back or is it too late?
IS VINE ‘THE INSTAGRAM FOR VIDEO’? The Twitter-acquired video app Vine has easily become the most popular way to share short, moving images today. Vine makes sharing videos inherently as easy as sharing a photo, producing six seconds of short-form video, looped endlessly like a GIF. Download the app, point the camera at your subject, hold down your finger on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad screen for six seconds, then share. The clips are addictive and easy to flip through quickly.
The drawback, depending on your perspective, is the six-second limitation. Otherwise, it inspires creativity in a short burst and six seconds may just be the sweet spot between bandwidth usage and high video resolution. With Twitter ninja Jack Dorsey behind it, Vine’s odds of success are high from the get-go, don’t you think?
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jama ic a j u n i o r t heat r e: e n te rta i n i n g and g i v i n g back
by gabrielle miller
he Jamaica Musical Theatre Company (JMTC) and daughter company, the Jamaica Junior Theatre (JJT) have been entertaining Jamaican audiences for decades. Founder Douglas Bennett established these organisations in 1960 and 1983, respectively, to promote the performing arts in Jamaica. However, this was not their only mission: both are nonprofit organisations and have contributed more than $3 million, raised through their annual productions, to various causes since their early days. Annually, JMTC/JJT members perform for and visit various charities, including the STEP Centre, PALS Jamaican and the SOS Children’s Village, where there is a JMTC Junior Theatre House. Funds from this year’s production, Alice: The Musical, will be donated to the non-governmental community organisation Children First, which focuses on underprivileged children and improving their life opportunities. “We are especially happy to be making a contribution this year given that they recently were forced to
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close their remedial school due to a lack of financial support,” says Danielle Stiebel, Musical Director and Producer of the 2013 JJT production. Other organisations are also able to raise funds for their own purposes, many of which are charitable. Benefit performances are available for sale and the tickets are resold at a profit. “Many schools, small businesses and NGO’s raise financing for their own initiatives which by and large contribute to the development of children and the youth in Jamaica,” says Stiebel. The JMTC has also recently initiated the JMTC Christina Bennett Scholarship Fund, named in honour of the late Christina Bennett, who was for many years an integral part of the development of the youth theatre. Many of the youngsters who participate in the shows have financial difficulties, so the organisation wanted to help them achieve their educational goals. “We started this scholarship to award our members who have selflessly given their time and talents to help others, even when they themselves need financial help,” said Stiebel. The 2013 production features a cast of approximately 60 performers between the ages of six and 21 and runs a total of 28 performances.Working with young children is never an easy task, but year after year, JJT does it successfully. The benefits of being involved with the JJT are numerous: aside from their charitable donation, the members and those involved in putting on the production learn about the importance of giving back to others.
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‘Pitch’ perfect infodev/cida launch programme to aid caribbean tech start ups
ou have a great business idea and have invested all your savings (and loans from family and friends) into making it a reality. You may have tried approaching banks and other potential financiers with the hope that they will see the potential in your idea as much as you do; yet you remain at wit’s end trying to raise enough money to launch your company. Don’t you wish a venture capitalist or an angel investor would just appear, bearing financial gifts like the proverbial tooth fairy? Alas, there is no existing investor network in the Caribbean, so you put your idea back on the shelf and join the ranks of the nine-to-five worker bees. Right? Wrong, if you’re a tech innovator.
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Help is on the horizon, in the form of the Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC), an upcoming collaborative project from the World Bank’s innovation, technology and entrepreneurship programme InfoDev and the Caribbean International Development Agency (CIDA). EPIC was kick stared last November with PitchIT Caribbean, a competition to help tech entrepreneurs in the Caribbean finetune their business ideas and position them for investors. “This competition is really focused on the process of pitching, how you communicate your business idea to an investor community. One of the
key parts of having your business be sustainable and growing is to be able to secure investment funding, so we just wanted to focus on one specific aspect of that process, which is preparing a pitch for a short presentation,” explains InfoDev Consultant Angelique Mannella, who has been working on developing the project in the region. Entries to PitchIT Caribbean closed in January and the competition ends on March 15; however Mannella pointed out that based on the level of support, other similar projects may be on the cards. Multiple submissions were received from Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis and Trinidad and Tobago.
EPIC at a glance Here are the three main components: Supporting and expanding the Caribbean Network of Business Incubators (CBIA) through strengthening its operations, developing new business incubators and facilitating an incubator manager exchange programme.
“This competition was focused on web or mobile business products or services, so we’re seeing a pretty broad range – definitely some mobile apps and web-based apps. Some are focused on learning, some are focused on health, data storage – there’s a really good variety,” she said.
Providing job-related skills upgrading for incubator managers and resources for policymakers, especially in the areas of women-managed and clean technology MSMEs. This will also include an annual conference on entrepreneurship and incubation in the Caribbean to convene stakeholders and facilitate networking.
The top 10 finalists were announced on Friday, February 1. These individuals and teams will progress to the three-week mentorship stage. “We’re working on having individuals that can work with the finalists in person in their home countries, but also connecting them with some virtual mentorship in Canada. These mentors are individuals who have run lots of businesses themselves, have lots of experience working in the Caribbean and are interested in helping new entrepreneurs grow,” explained Mannella, who has also led start up boot camps in mobile technology in Jamaica.
Developing a regional MSME seed fund to provide working capital to firms wishing to expand their operations.
One grand prize winner will be selected from the group of finalists and will travel to the InfoDev Global Forum, which will be held in South Africa from May 27 to 30, where they will get the chance to pit their idea against other contestants from around the world and impress high-profile incubation managers, angel investors and entrepreneurs. Mannella is pleased with the level of interest the PitchIT Caribbean competition has generated and the EPIC team is now taking into consideration the contestants’ suggestions to create a network to keep the momentum going. EPIC’s goal is to improve private sector competitiveness in the Caribbean by offering technical assistance in the form of advisory services, mentorship and access to infrastructure to local entrepreneurs, particularly technology-based MSMEs and those led by vulnerable groups, such as women. Part of creating this ecosystem for start ups will be establishing key partnerships with organisations in the region. Mannella could not give any specifics, but noted that working with local organisations is “definitely” a component of the programme.
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