More Firms Set to Get An­gel In­vest­ment

The Star (St. Lucia) - - BUSINESS -

The Caribbean Ex­port De­vel­op­ment Agency hosted the in­au­gu­ral Caribbean An­gel In­vestor Fo­rum in Mon­tego Bay on May 12, 2017. The event, which at­tracted some of the re­gion’s most in­flu­en­tial busi­ness peo­ple, came to­gether to lay the foun­da­tion for a more buoy­ant and ac­tive An­gel In­vestor ecosys­tem within the Caribbean.

The in­vestor fo­rum is just one of the ac­tiv­i­ties of the LINK-Caribbean pro­gramme that is be­ing funded by the World Bank Group and gov­ern­ment of Canada as part of the En­trepreneur­ship Pro­gram for In­no­va­tion in the Caribbean (EPIC) and im­ple­mented by Caribbean Ex­port. EPIC aims to sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of an en­abling ecosys­tem to foster in­no­va­tive and growth-ori­ented en­ter­prises in the Caribbean re­gion, and the de­vel­op­ment of well-func­tion­ing An­gel groups is a key com­po­nent to achieve this end.

The World Bank Group’s Coun­try Man­ager for Ja­maica, Galina Sotirova, high­lighted the im­por­tance of in­no­va­tive en­trepreneurs to gen­er­ate jobs, act­ing as key driv­ers for eco­nomic growth and com­pet­i­tive­ness. Five en­trepreneurs de­liv­ered pitches to the in­ter­na­tional An­gel au­di­ence, com­bat­ting the per­cep­tion that there is a lack of Caribbean in­no­va­tion to gen­er­ate the deal flow within the re­gion to sus­tain an An­gel in­vest­ment ecosys­tem.

“Over the past two and a half years the World Bank has sup­ported An­gel group de­vel­op­ment, and com­pa­nies are get­ting valu­able ex­po­sure to ex­pe­ri­enced, con­nected busi­nessper­sons. Over 70 en­trepreneurs have pitched or held pri­vate meet­ings. En­trepreneurs in the re­gion can be­come vi­able fu­ture eco­nomic con­trib­u­tors, and it is the de­sire to in­vest in Caribbean en­trepreneurs that makes An­gels re­ally unique and valu­able to the ecosys­tem,” said Sotirova.

There are cur­rently seven An­gel groups within the Caribbean (First An­gels Ja­maica and Al­pha An­gels in Ja­maica; Tri­dent An­gels in Bar­ba­dos; Re­nais­sance An­gels and IP An­gels in Trinidad and Tobago; and En­claces and Nexxus in the Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic) ac­tively look­ing for in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. Their com­ing to­gether via the Re­gional An­gel In­vestor Net­work (RAIN) en­ables greater re­gional col­lab­o­ra­tion or syn­di­ca­tion to pool re­sources to pre­sent more at­trac­tive in­vest­ment op­tions for earlystage in­vest­ment.

Thus far there have been eight An­gel in­vestor “deals” across the re­gion and with the LINK-Caribbean pro­gramme, which pro­vides sup­ple­men­tal fund­ing to en­trepreneurs, the re­gion should see more deals be­ing made.

The con­ser­va­tive in­vest­ment cli­mate within the Caribbean is chang­ing with more busi­ness peo­ple look­ing to be­come “An­gels”. Caribbean Ex­port Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Pamela Coke-Hamil­ton com­mended the An­gel groups pre­sent at the event and the in­de­pen­dent An­gels for their work in their re­spec­tive coun­tries, say­ing that they are “pi­o­neer­ing al­ter­na­tive sources of fund­ing for the pri­vate sec­tor and are there­fore in­stru­men­tal part­ners for pri­vate sec­tor de­vel­op­ment.”

Deborah Du­perly-Pinks, on be­half of the Cana­dian High Com­mis­sion, echoed sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments. “Now more than ever glob­ally there is an in­creased in­ter­est in the level of en­trepreneur­ship and small busi­ness de­vel­op­ment. Gov­ern­ments look to en­trepreneurs in seek­ing so­lu­tions to ad­dress lim­ited or slow eco­nomic growth and ris­ing un­em­ploy­ment.”

From left: Yoni Ep­stein, Chair­man & CEO – itel-BPO So­lu­tions, Founder & Chair­man, Al­pha An­gels; Pamela Coke Hamil­ton, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rect, Caribbean Ex­port; Deborah Du­perly-Pinks, Se­nior De­vel­op­ment Of­fice, The High Com­mis­sion of Canada; Ganesh Rasagam, Prac­tice Man­ager, In­no­va­tion & En­trepreneur­ship, World Bank Group; Galina Sotirova, World Bank Group’s Coun­try Man­ager for Ja­maica; Joseph M. Mat­alon, Chair­man, ICD Group Hold­ings, Ltd., Co-Founder & Chair­man, First An­gels Ja­maica.

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