Business

IDB praises Ja for leadership in regional venture capital market

Wednesday, July 30, 2014    

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Jamaica has jumped ahead of the English-speaking Caribbean in development of a venture capital industry, earning the effusive praise of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

"Other Caribbean countries can learn from what Jamaica is doing," said Therese Turner-Jones, the IDB country representative in Jamaica. "The partnership that exists between the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) and the private sector can be used as a model by other countries seeking to establish a venture capital industry," she said.

Turner-Jones was optimistic about the future growth of the venture capital market and said she was looking forward to the IDB's continued participation in the programme.

In February 2013, the DBJ signed a non-refundable technical co-operation agreement with the Washington-based IDB through its Multilateral Investment Fund (IDB-MIF), making itself firm partners in the Jamaica Venture Capital Programme.

Turner-Jones' remarks came at a recent press briefing to announce the staging of the second annual Venture Capital Conference to be held in Kingston from September 8 to 10, 2014 which project co-ordinator Audrey Richards promised would be a "game-changing, high-level, content-rich event that is chock-full of information for all market segments with interest in the development of venture capital and private equity in Jamaica".

Key agenda items include conversations on the opportunities for investment, stimulating deal flow -- from start-ups to large-scale enterprises -- and building networks and partnerships; panel discussions on women entrepreneurs -- their successes, the obstacles and challenges to growth; the role of venture capital in creating renewed opportunities to access finance; the creative economy; cultural industries and sports -- lessons from other markets on building effective structures to attract venture capital.

Venture capital guru, Josh Lerner, the Jacob H Schiff Professor of Investment Banking at Harvard Business School and chair of the Entrepreneurial Management Unit, will address the conference. Lerner is the author of several books and publications on venture capital and private equity, including Boulevard of Broken Dreams. He is considered to be one of the 100 most influential persons in venture capital. He has done extensive work in Latin America and the Caribbean.

"The theme, 'Towards a dynamic ecosystem: linking capital, innovation, entrepreneurship for growth', reflects where we are and the many activities which are being undertaken by the DBJ, by private sector companies and financial institutions and indeed by the universities," Richards said.

"This conference is about 'linking', as we are now seeking to connect the dots and to encourage all stakeholders -- in the private and public sectors -- to share in the building of the ecosystem," Richards added.

DBJ Chairman Joe Matalon told the journalists that one of the imperatives of the venture capital programme was building strong linkages with international development partners, the Jamaican diaspora as well as its Latin American and Caribbean partners.

Reflecting on the past year since the first conference, Matalon reported that one of the outputs of that event was an investor panel of local public and private sector investors, including institutional investors, investment bankers and advisors, as well as pension funds and multilateral partners.

The panel's mandate was to encourage the establishment of venture capital and private equity funds operated by qualified local and/or international fund managers, who are fund-raising for the purpose of investing in companies operating in Jamaica.

Matalon said that as part of the way forward, specific legislation was required for the industry and the Jamaica Venture Capital Programme had identified legal and regulatory changes that were required.

The conference is expected to be attended by a wide cross-section of local businesspersons, the diaspora and the wider Caribbean. It is aimed at entrepreneurs, family businesses, business owners, regulators, bankers, accountants, lawyers, investors (individual and institutional), academics as well as university students.

International venture capital experts from the US, Latin America and as far away as the Middle East, will also participate in the event.

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