Local entrepreneurs get training in Jordan

They are Mannin Marsh, Alecia Aris and Tajhlois Laidley from The Vinelist; Dave Oakley of CrimeBot; and Ricardo Gowdie, Oshane Gooden and Warren Robinson from RevoFarm. All three companies are involved in technology.

The seven new entrepreneurs are part of the Government’s Start-Up Jamaicaprogramme, which received significant assistance from local and overseas partners, including local banks, the World Bank and Jordanian-based investmentcompany, Oasis 500, where the Jamaicans are currently based.

Oasis 500 is a leading early stage and seed investment company, which started out building a platform for Information Technology (IT) entrepreneurship in Jordan and the Middle East by helping ambitious entrepreneurs start their own companies. Assistance include entrepreneurship training, business incubation, mentorship guidance and follow-up investment and funding.

Participants are also schooled in how to transform ideas into ‘start-up’ businesses and help is extended to existing entrepreneurs to further develop and grow their companies with the help of an ‘angel investor’ and mentor.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Julian Robinson, who has been keeping track of the young entrepreneurs in the Middle East, said feedback from the young people has been quite encouraging.

“The feedback has been quite positive. There was some minor cultural ‘adjustment’ but in terms of the experience, all have been very positive, especially as it presented an opportunity to work with other entrepreneurs across the world,” the state minister said.

He said that Economic Consultant with the World Bank, Fabio Pittaluga, and himself will be travelling to Jordan in July to meet with the Oasis 500 team to discuss the next phase of acceleration for Start-Up Jamaica.

Mr Robinson says he is quite happy with how the Start-Up Jamaica programme has evolved and believes that it will be able to attract and support young entrepreneurs and innovators who currently utilise Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to develop their own businesses.

The programme began with 218 applicants, 60 of whom were chosen for a boot camp. During the camp, 15 teams made investment pitches, of which six received offers.

“Three took it up, which included an investment of US$30,000 in exchange for an equity stake in the company,” Robinson noted.

It is these three teams that are now in Jordan to fine-tune their products and services for the marketplace, the state minister said.

He added that the others have gone on to improve their services, hiring staff and launching out on the local marketplace.

The start-up initiative is being undertaken over a five-year period and seeks to move Jamaicans from being primarily consumers of technology to becoming producers; and to position the country as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship within the Caribbean region.

Support is also encouraged through what is called an ‘Angel Investor’ (friends, family or friendly supporter) who, at a very early stage, will give monetary support to a company. This is usually done before the larger ‘equity investors’ become involved.

Among the companies playing an important role in the Start-Up Jamaica Programme are local telecoms provider LIME, Jamaica National (JN), National Commercial Bank (NCB) and the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ).


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