Three Jamaican creatives have been given a boost with the injection of funding for their various projects valued at a combined $800,000. The projects, which are in the areas of film, literature, and gastronomy, received the funding to kick-start from Kingston Creative, the Corporate Area non-profit arts organisation started in 2017 which utilises the arts and culture to achieve social and economic transformation.
The latest initiative was part of the organisation's Best Pitch Forward investment programme, which is now in its second year. Under the programme 10 creative entrepreneurs were prepped on how to pitch by Kingston Creative's entrepreneur development specialist Dmitri Dawkins. They had to present their projects to a local panel of judges which comprised David Mullings, from Blue Mahoe Capital; Judith Alberga from Television Jamaica; Wayne Beecher, innovative finance specialist at United Nations Development Programme; Maria Hitchins, founder of Dancers of Jamaica; and Lorenzo Escondeur, chief of operations at Inter-American Development Bank Lab.
Following the presentations last Friday, film-maker Mezan Morisson walked away with the top spot and $400,000 towards her film Bluefields. Eileen Dunkley-Shim, Netty's Farm Kombucha beverage took the second spot and the $250,000 prize; while Sosheina Whyte was awarded third place and $100,000 for the further development of her Mind Priority Journal and app.
The audience also voted for a People's Choice Winner for a $50,000 prize; that also went to Whyte for her Mind Priority Journal, who delivered her pitch in a rhythmic dub poetry, which really engaged the audience.
Each contestant also receive US$100 in Amazon Web Services credit through a partnership with Kingston Creative and Amazon.
Andrea Dempster Chung, co-founder and executive director of Kingston Creative, was pleased with this year's staging of Best Pitch Forward.
“This is our second year doing the investment pitch competition and we are very proud of this group of creatives who showed tremendous growth over the past month. I am happy to see the wealth of investable talent that exists in the cultural and creative industries,” she stated.
The event was a partnership with Jampro, an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce; the Development Bank of Jamaica; and Inter-American Development Bank Lab which are invested in growing the local creative economy.