24 grants awarded at Caribbean Angel Investor Forum

Sunday, December 16, 2018

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“Driving Growth Through Private Investment”, was the focus of the second Caribbean Angel Investor Forum held at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

The forum is part of the LINK-Caribbean programme implemented by Caribbean Export with financial support from the World Bank Group.

Among its key outputs, LINK-Caribbean awarded 24 investment facilitation grants to Caribbean start-ups and early-stage firms. The deployment of these grants along with other LINK-Caribbean activities played a central role in enabling 10 Caribbean entrepreneurs to raise over $2.3 million from business angel investors.

“The number of grants that have been awarded since LINK-Caribbean was launched speaks to the high interest of capital investors, angel investors and entrepreneurs in the Caribbean region,” said Sophia Muradyan, World Bank Coordinator for the regional programme. “

Many of the region's pressing concerns in critical sectors such as transportation, health and agriculture can be addressed by innovative solutions and ideas. We hope that these awards will inspire more entrepreneurs to innovate, grow and scale up their ideas.”

The forum, which was held by the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) on November 29-30, gathered a distinguished group of prominent policymakers, entrepreneurs, private and angel investors.

In her opening remarks, minister of trade and industry with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, Paula Gopee-Scoon underscored the challenges faced by entrepreneurs, with the limited options of traditional banking systems that often require collateral and venture capital to secure.

“If our businesses are to compete globally, the support of diverse investment modalities is crucial,” she insisted. “I must applaud the angel investor ecosystem in Trinidad and Tobago, which has helped to create a programme which provides a forum for budding entrepreneurs to receive much-needed early stage capital”.

LINK-Caribbean, which was launched in September 2016, is an initiative of the Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean which is managed by the World Bank and funded by the Government of Canada. It is designed to foster innovative and growth-oriented enterprises in the Caribbean, to raise capital from private investors, and establish functioning angel groups to strengthen the start-up finance ecosystem in the region.

Since 2016, LINK-Caribbean has connected entrepreneurs with private investors, helped raise capital for innovative new and early-stage businesses, as well as developed a Caribbean early-stage investing community that includes angel investors, institutional investors, and diaspora investors.

The programme has also offered training and support services to assist companies in securing angel investment.

Christopher McNair, manager for competitiveness and export promotion at Caribbean Export, hailed the success of the programme.

“We are really pleased with how LINK-Caribbean has surpassed the initial targets set in terms of the value of capital raised from private investors and the number of firms benefiting from the programme,” he stated. “LINK-Caribbean has successfully supported the development of a rapidly emerging angel investing ecosystem and the development of a truly Caribbean angel network.”

LINK-Caribbean also facilitated the creation of a Caribbean Business Angel Network (CBAN), formerly known as RAIN. Today, CBAN serves as a collaborative platform for investor groups with the potential for pan-Caribbean early stage investments.

Within the region there are seven angel groups, including First Angels Jamaica and Alpha Angels in Jamaica; Trident Angels in Barbados; Renaissance Angels and IP Angels in Trinidad and Tobago; as well as Enlaces and Nexxus in the Dominican Republic. A new group is being established in the Bahamas.

First Angels Jamaica and Trident Angels from Barbados have both successfully invested in companies that were part of the LINK-Caribbean programme.

“Although the two-year LINK-Caribbean programme is ending, its impact as expressed by the fledgling angel investor ecosystem will be sustained by the angel groups across the region,” said Christopher McNair. “Caribbean Export is committed to supporting the region's private sector with the implementation of the 11th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme where access to finance, is a key pillar. We are also seeking alternative funding mechanisms throughout CARIFORUM.”

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