According to Ganesh Rasagam, practice manager, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the World Bank Group, international organisations, national organisations, and others are paying closer attention to the impact of crowdfunding on local economic development. Crowdfunding has the power to unlock much-needed early-stage financing for entrepreneurs. In 2015 the total fundraising volume attributed to crowdfunding was estimated to be $34 billion.
“This programme will help to create greater access to capital, financial inclusion, and economic development of traditionally marginalised segments of the region’s population that have been previously considered ‘unbankable’ and ‘unprofitable,’ Rasagam said. “It will also help entrepreneurs increase their knowledge about the potential of crowdfunding as well as how to build a crowdfunding campaign through online training and targeted coaching.”
The programme is a free 8-week online course funded by the government of Canada under the Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC), which seeks to build an enabling ecosystem for growth-oriented and sustainable enterprises across 14 CARICOM countries. It is a key initiative under EPIC’s Access to Finance component, which aims to develop innovative access to finance programmes for growth-oriented Caribbean entrepreneurs.
It is especially designed for entrepreneurs from the 14 EPIC-participating countries with well-formulated ideas or prototypes who need to raise money and test their consumer-facing products or services.
Sam Raymond, crowdfunding specialist at the World Bank Group, said participants will gain a conceptual understanding of how crowdfunding can be used to grow their early-stage business, as well as technical training to build an online presence, develop an effective communications strategy, and build their own effective crowdfunding campaigns. “Raising crowdfunding is a tough task for any entrepreneur — especially in markets where crowdfunding is not the norm — but we expect that this course will give Caribbean entrepreneurs the knowledge and tools to navigate their way to a successful campaign,” he said.
Karlene Francis, operations officer at the World Bank and project coordinator, explained that the course will be implemented by the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ITC-ILO) and co-facilitated by regional partners. These include the Economic Development Advisory Board, an advisory body to the prime minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago; the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship – Caribbean; Launch RockIT; and the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI).
“I am excited about this program because of the potential outcome of allowing entrepreneurs to test their products in the market and improve their competitiveness,” Francis said. “If entrepreneurs can demonstrate traction with customers at an earlier stage, they have a better chance of raising later-stage financing from angels investors or banks. Developing a continuum of financing for cash-strapped Caribbean entrepreneurs is an exciting proposition!”
Caribbean entrepreneurs are invited to register early for the programme by visiting https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CMCEMOOC. The deadline for applications is Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016.
EPIC is a seven-year CAD20 million Trust Fund Program funded by the government of Canada that seeks to build an enabling ecosystem for growth-oriented and sustainable enterprises across 14 CARICOM countries (except Haiti). 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.