More SME funding under DBJ's IGNITE IV
The Development Bank of Jamaica on Oxford Road in New Kingston.

Jamaican small businesses that are seeking to grow and scale can access up to $7 million in grant funding and capacity-building support under the Development Bank of Jamaica's (DBJ) Innovation Grant for New Ideas to Entrepreneurship (IGNITE).

The DBJ has confirmed the renewal of the programme for a fourth edition, known as IGNITE IV, under its Boosting Innovation and Entrepreneurship Ecosystems (BIGEE) programme, and announced the opening of the application window for entrepreneurs and small businesses to apply. Through IGNITE, the DBJ's targets innovative Jamaican small businesses looking for opportunities to scale and grow by providing grants and development support.

"IGNITE was introduced in 2016, but now falls under the ambit of the BIGEE programme. To date the initiative has helped more than 70 micro and small enterprises to grow and scale their businesses," Christopher Brown, BIGEE programme manager, explained.

"Over the years, we have partnered with several business service intermediaries [BSIs] that are responsible for monitoring and coaching the SME [small and medium-sized enterprise] during the 12-month implementation. We are pleased to announce that we have approved two new BSIs, namely Kingston Creative and TBR Lab, bringing our total number of partners to seven," he continued.

Other BSIs include Jamaica Business Development Corporation, Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre, Technology Innovation Centre, Jamaica Manufacturers & Exporters Association, and Sister's Ink Jamaica.

Under IGNITE there are two windows through which applicants may apply — ideation and commercialisation — with applicable amounts of $3 million and $7 million, respectively. The bank is placing strong emphasis on projects/businesses in the following categories: climate change and gender; tourism and creatives; manufacturing and agriculture; technology, software and ICT.

In this regard, Lu'Shana Cheddesingh, BIGEE's technical co-ordinator for direct business, who has direct responsibility for IGNITE, is encouraging innovators who have a concept and needs assistance in building out their minimum viable product (MVP) to apply through the Ideation Window for up $3 million.

"For businesses that have been in operation for over two years and are seeking to scale their operations, up to $7 million is available under the Commercialisation Window. We are urging all MSEs with innovative ideas to contact one of our seven approved BSIs, who will assist them with the preparation of their application," she noted.

According to Anthony Shaw, managing director of the DBJ, the renewal of IGNITE underscores the bank's commitment to building and growing the SME sector.

"After three cohorts of IGNITE, the programme continues to be successful and the original objectives of growing SMEs along their business lifecycle; enhancing economic returns in terms of level of investment, revenue, employment and export; improving MSEs business capacity, business processes and sophistication and importantly, increasing the number of start-ups surviving past two years, remains strong," he stated.

The IGNITE programme is funded under the Government of Jamaica five-year loan agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and an accompanying non-reimbursable grant fund from the European Union (EU), that is geared at building a robust and sustained entrepreneurship ecosystem in Jamaica.

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