Big boost for Jamaica's investor ecosystem with CARAIA launch

Eyes set on Caribbean and Central America

BY DURRANT PATE
Observer business writer

Friday, November 22, 2019

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Jamaica's investor ecosystem has been bolstered with the official launch of the Caribbean Alternative Investment Association (CARAIA), aimed at promoting the expansion of private equity, venture capital, real estate, private capital, mezzanine financing and other alternative investment instruments.

The non-profit organisation was incorporated in Jamaica in July 2019 as a regional association, representing the collective interests, promoting best practices and increasing the visibility of the Caribbean on global investment maps and mobilising greater levels of long-term funding.

In addition, the association is charged with the responsibility of supporting entrepreneurship and infrastructure development, while accelerating economic growth.

Full membership is comprised of corporate, institutional investors and fund managers, while associate membership is open to professional accountants and attorneys, business enablers, academic institutions, angel investor networks and umbrella groups.

Anchored by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) through its Jamaica Venture Capital Programme (JVCP), CARAIA is one of the deliverables under a Technical Corporation Agreement signed in 2016 with the Inter-American Development Bank now IDB Lab for the establishment of a Private Equity-Venture Capital Industry in Jamaica.

PRESENTATION OF CARAIA MEMBERS

The launch of the association took place last weekend at Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston at which the founding members, which happens to be some of the most liquid companies in Jamaica, were presented to the public. They are JMMB Group, NCB Capital Market, Scotia Investments Jamaica, Proven Investments, Mayberry Investments, Sagicor Investments, Sygnus Capital, Pan Jam Investments, Portland Private Equity, and Epply Limited.

The list is completed by ICD Group Holdings, JN Fund Managers, MPC Renewable Energies, the ATL Pension Fund, SEAF Caribbean Management and Development Bank of Jamaica.

The impetus to establish the association arose out of the need identified by fund managers, corporate and institutional investors to continue to grow and develop domestic markets with some level of support from government sources and international development finance institutions.

CARAIA'S FOCUS EXTENDS BEYOND JAMAICA

Audrey Richards, project coordinator for the JVCP, under whose portfolio the association resides disclosed that “Initially over the short period the association will be Jamaica focused but in the medium- to long-term we have our eyes set on the Caribbean and Central America.

The Caribbean and Central American region share a number of similarities in the eyes of investors, and it is our intention that CARAIA will be the vehicle that will speak to the collective interests, thereby promoting best practices and attracting investments and capital to the region.”

It is recognised that the region has some 44 million people among 31 countries. Many of these countries have an embryonic private equity, private credit, venture capital and other alternative investment markets, which are either not supported by a regional or international body, or when represented do not receive the sustained focus required to nurture and develop their private capital markets.

ADVISORY BOARD

An advisory board for CARAIA is already in place under the chairmanship of CEO of Proven Investments, Christopher Williams. The other members are managing director of Eppley Nicholas Scott; chief investment officer of Sygnus Capital, Jason Morris; Keith Collister, executive chairman of ATL Pension Fund; CEO of NCB Capital Market, Steven Gooden; CEO of ICD Group Holdings, Joseph M Matalon and Brian Frazer, vice-president of Asset Management at Scotia Investments.

For his part managing director of the DBJ, Milverton Reynolds emphasised, “The establishment of CARAIA is appropriate when set against the background of the tremendous growth of Jamaica's capital market over the past 12-18 months. From the outset, we at the DBJ would like to categorically stress that the association is private sector led; we are only the convenor and part of the membership base.”


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