According to Chris McNair, manager for Competitiveness and Innovation at Caribbean Export, “the grants will be used to assist firms in making the necessary improvements to their businesses with the aim of attracting greater investment from private investors such as business angels within the next six months.”
The firms were selected from a slate of 134 applicants from across the region, seven of which were afforded the opportunity to pitch their businesses to a panel of judges in the hope of securing an investment readiness grant. LINK-Caribbean, a programme of the World Bank Group and the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) supports the development of an early stage Investor ecosystem within the region. Launched last September, it is funded by by the government of Canada.
"For many years Caribbean entrepreneurs were disadvantaged because of a lack of funding opportunities in comparison to our first world counterparts. With the LINK-Caribbean grant we now have an opportunity to show the world that great, disruptive companies can be born here," said Larren Peart of Bluedot Media.
Barbadian recipient Shannon Clarke of Carepoint expressed his humility for his selection and spoke of looking forward to the guidance from business angels and importantly “their assistance to help push the adoption of ICT in the delivery of health care throughout the Caribbean.”
Khalil Bryan of Caribbean Transport Solutions highlighted some of the key initiatives hosted by World Bank Group and Caribbean Export “Starting from 2015, their team hosted entrepreneur sessions to sensitise us to key items that would prepare us to raise capital to providing support as we deploy capital from the investment readiness grant. They have truly been a catalyst to improve the investment climate in the region — from building angel groups to disbursing grant funding to prepare us for investment. We appreciate the role that they have played and would encourage them to continue in this vein as entrepreneurship will truly be a catalyst to impact the economies of our region."
Aun Rahman, financial sector specialist for the World Bank Group, said the Bank is encouraged by the initial response to LINK-Caribbean’s first grant cycle. “We are looking forward to building a stronger pipeline of more applicants who will be eligible to become beneficiaries under the programme in future grant cycles.”
In addition to these grants, LINK-Caribbean provides other support activities to stimulate early stage investing in the region. It facilitates the development of deal flow for early stage investors through the Regional Angel Investor Network (RAIN). “We strongly encourage entrepreneurs and investors to join RAIN to uncover new investment opportunities throughout the Caribbean,” McNair added.
About LINK-Caribbean and EPIC
LINK-Caribbean is an initiative of the World Bank Group’s Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC), a seven-year, CAD 20 million program funded by the government of Canada that seeks to build a supportive ecosystem for high-growth and sustainable enterprises throughout the Caribbean.
The Project Development Objectives are to contribute to increased competitiveness, growth, and job creation in the Caribbean region through the development of a robust and vibrant innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. EPIC has three core activity pillars: mobile innovation, climate technology, and women-led entrepreneurship. These pillars are complemented by an access to finance facility for Caribbean entrepreneurs and a skills upgrading and capacity development program for all ecosystem stakeholders.
World Bank Group Contact
About Caribbean Export
Caribbean Export is a regional export development and trade and investment promotion organisation of the Forum of Caribbean States currently executing the Regional Private Sector Programme funded by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund. Caribbean Export’s mission is to increase the competitiveness of Caribbean countries by providing quality export development and trade and investment promotion services through effective programme execution and strategic alliances.