Venture capital ecosystem gets US$3.5m boost

BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, February 04, 2016

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The Development Bank of Jamaica has signed off on an agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) – Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) valuing roughly US$3.5 million, the second funding towards the development of the Technical Cooperation Agreement.


Just under three years ago, DBJ signed the first Technical Cooperation Agreement with the IDB-MIF for the development of a venture capital ecosystem to create an environment conducive to the establishment of a dynamic private equity capital industry, and the establishment of new venture capital and private equity funds through public and private sector collaboration with local and international fund managers.


Chief among the initiative is also the development of a sustainable flow of investment-ready businesses, through the support of entrepreneurs, incubators and accelerators and sponsorship of business model competitions and pitch events. DBJ also hopes to build strong linkages with international development partners (IDPs), the Jamaican Diaspora as well as Latin American and Caribbean neighbours through the funding.


Valued at US$3,483,000, the IDB-MIF will provide US$1,198,750 (J$145 million), while DBJ will provide counterpart funding of US$2,284,250 (J$275 million).


"This Second Technical Cooperation Agreement builds on the first, and is expected to impact over 100 existing and potential, urban and rural, high-growth SMEs. Other beneficiaries will include: regulators, service providers, investors and existing and new fund managers," chairman of the DBJ, Joseph Matalon, told the audience yesterday during a press conference for the signing of the second Technical Co-operation Agreement and the launch of the third Venture Capital Conference.


According to Matalon, the second Technical Cooperation Agreement is aimed at: building human capacity, building the financial resources for early stage ventures and entrepreneurs, enabling the legal and regulatory environment to facilitate seamless cross-border venture capital and private equity transactions, and building awareness and information dissemination.


"We are particularly enthusiastic about the support this Technical Cooperation will give to building out the entrepreneurial ecosystem to ensure that there are supportive institutions through which our entrepreneurs will be able to develop their businesses and link with investors, creating a deal flow of investment-ready businesses," he said.


"And so, combining today’s events – the signing of a second technical cooperation agreement and the launch of the third venture capital conference — is no coincidence. The two are inextricably linked and reflect the continued implementation of the strategic plan established under the first Technical Cooperation Agreement."


The three-day Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) Venture Capital Conference to be staged March 7-9, 2016, will provide opportunities to network and build new local and international acquaintances. The upcoming conference will offer insight into venture capital as a growing industry; it will look at global trends, examine the readiness of local businesses and how Jamaican businesses can align themselves to these emerging opportunities.


Centred on the theme ‘The Power of Smart Capital…expanding the financial landscape, fuelling innovation, driving entrepreneurship’, the event expects to attract venture capital stakeholders such as fund managers, entrepreneurs, businesses, investors, investments advisors, policymakers and international development partners.


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