US$25M project for SMEs, start-ups

US$25M project for SMEs, start-ups

Friday, March 22, 2019

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness has announced that a total of US$25 million (J$3.1 billion) will be invested in a project designed to finance and aid innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth of the micro, small, and medium-sized business sector over the next five years.

Dubbed 'Boosting Innovation, Growth and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem (BIGEE)' the project is being implemented by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) and will be supported by a US$500,000 grant from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Holness made the announcement during his contribution to the budget debate in the House of Representatives on March 19.

BIGEE is aimed at promoting innovation and productivity among established micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) with high growth potential; promote sustainable and disruptive growth in scalable start-ups; and create sustainable start-ups and a strong support ecosystem for entrepreneurship.

He said the programme will provide a variety of products for MSMEs along the different stages of their development.

Holness said most of the intervention/activities that will be supported through the BIGEE initiative will be grants to MSMEs, and business intermediaries.

“If it is not going to be a grant, the intention is to set up a venture capital fund… so if it's not a grant, it will be equity,” he said.

“These are the kinds of interventions that are going to support the development of businesses at the very base of the economy, at the root of the economy,” he noted.

Another key facet of the programme is to build the capacity of business intermediaries such as accelerators, incubators, and technology transfer offices to support MSMEs.

The key products to be offered are seed capital fund and incubation services for new start-ups; venture capital fund and acceleration services for scalable start-ups; and for established MSMEs – research, development and innovation funds, patenting matching grants, and business support services.

It is expected that implementation of all these components will generate increased productivity levels for the targeted beneficiaries.

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