More MSMEs accessing capacity-building opportunities
Melissa Barrett, manager, business advisory services, Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), speaking at the welcoming ceremony for the fourth cohort of the JBDC Accelerator Programme on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, at the Jamaica Pegasus.

JAMAICAN micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are accessing more opportunities to scale with offerings from business accelerator programmes.

At the end of March, the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship — Caribbean welcomed 15 new entrepreneurs to its business accelerator programme, offering them the opportunity to develop their leadership skills, increase their businesses’ revenues, and break into new markets.

From over 300 applicants, the Branson Centre selected the 15 participants after “a rigorous vetting process”, granting them access to a three-month programme that involves training, mentorship and access to funding.

“This three-month programme will not be a walk in the park — it will challenge our entrepreneurs on many levels,” Branson Centre’s CEO Lauri-Ann Ainsworth shared at the virtual welcome session.

“Each entrepreneur was selected because we saw that they have the potential to be business leaders across a wide cross section of industries,” she added.

The CEO said that since “agility is crucial to survive and thrive in today’s new normal”, it is a core principle entrepreneurs will take away from this programme.

Having contributed to the growth of businesses across the Caribbean over the last decade, the Branson Centre has also launched its business acceleration consulting model, and has been supporting a training and mentorship programme for start-up entrepreneurs in the British Virgin Islands.

Ainsworth, therefore, underscored that the consulting model will help the business development organisation to extend its reach across the Caribbean.

“We want to make an even bigger impact on the Caribbean entrepreneurial ecosystem, so we are taking our proven results and methodologies developed over the years to support other incubators, accelerators and business enablers,” she said.

The Branson Centre will renew the programme with a fresh cohort of entrepreneurs in the summer.

Like the Branson Centre, the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) also welcomed a new cohort of entrepreneurs to its accelerator programme last Tuesday, April 6, at Jamaica Pegasus. Set for six months, the virtual programme will offer 60 entrepreneurs training and mentorship, networking opportunities, strategies to increase sales, as well as growth and financing opportunities. According to the JBDC, the current cohort is double the number from the 2021 installation.

Over the next six months the participants will also benefit from a six-module curriculum that includes training in strategy development, financial management, marketing and sales, operational improvement, digital transformation, and business valuation.

Speaking at the launch of the accelerator programme, Melissa Barrett, business advisory services manager at JBDC, disclosed that of the 60 participants, 30 will advance to the “deep accelerator programme”.

“The programme assesses you at the start, see where your gaps are, and then creates a tailored solution,” she pointed out.

Each business will have an assigned business development officer, technical services officer, marketing services officer, and financial services officer — on a needs basis.

JBDC has partnered with the Development Bank of Jamaica to fund the programme to the tune of $60 million, both contributing on a 50:50 basis.

The spend from the DBJ falls under the US$25-million Inter-American Development Bank-funded Boosting Innovation, Growth and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem (BIGEE) programme, which aims to finance economic growth of MSMEs in Jamaica while promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.

Natalie D’Oyen, technical coordinator, Intermediary Services Unit, BIGEE, Development Bank of Jamaica, says the bank is looking at supporting entrepreneurs who are seeking to innovate.<strong id="strong-2">.</strong>

Natalie D’Oyen, technical coordinator for the BIGEE programme, told the gathering at Jamaica Pegasus on Tuesday that one of the hallmarks of companies which benefit from the programme is their differentiator or competitive advantage.

“We’re looking at supporting entrepreneurs who are seeking to innovate, and with that because we know that those are the ones that are going to make money,” she remarked.

D’Oyen also highlighted the various initiatives to help the entrepreneurs — Voucher for Technical Assistance, IGNITE, and a venture capital fund. She also revealed that the bank is in the final stages of creating a SideCar Fund in collaboration with angel investors.

The DBJ is also the coordinator of the National Business Model Competition (NBMC), which uses the business model canvas to help university students develop their business model and products before pitching to a panel of investors.

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