Five Caribbean businesses are closer to securing private investment having each received $25,000 USD through the LINK-Caribbean Investment Readiness Grant programme.
The recipients are Carepoint and Caribbean Transit Solutions of Barbados; Bluedot Media and Innovative Menu Solutions Ltd from Jamaica and SystemIz Incorporated from Trinidad and Tobago.
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 6 months.” The firms were selected from more than 130 applications from across the region, 7 of which were chosen to pitch their businesses to a panel of judges in the hope of securing an investment readiness grant. LINK-Caribbean, a programme of the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) supports the development of an early stage Investor eco-system within the region. Launched last September, it is funded by the World Bank and sponsored by the Canadian government.
Barbadian recipient Shannon Clarke from Carepoint expressed 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 healthcare throughout the Caribbean”
Khalil Bryan of Caribbean Transport Solutions also from Barbados highlighted some of the key initiatives hosted by World Bank 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 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 who also has responsibility for EPIC’s Access to Finance programme stated that the Bank is encouraged with 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,” added Mr McNair.
Caribbean Telecommunications Union Promotes Using ICT To Empower Disabled
The head of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) is calling for strong collaboration among stakeholders to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) to empower people with disabilities (PWDs).
CTU Secretary General Bernadette Lewis says this requires the involvement of governments, people with disabilities and the organizations that serve them, ICT service providers, network operators, regulators; as well as the support of corporate citizens.
She was speaking at the demonstration of the features of the Caribbean Video Assistance Service (CVAS), which enables the deaf not only to call each other and communicate directly, but also to speak with trained sign language interpreters who relay conversations between them and hearing parties.
The proposed CVAS is a collaboration between the CTU and VTCSecure that uses a technological platform to facilitate communication, without expensive equipment, via an individual’s smart phone, computer or wireless device from virtually anywhere. VTCSecure is a global company that provides secure On-Demand, Video, Voice & Text Call Center Services.
Curacao Signs Agreement With AirBnB
The government of Curaçao has signed an agreement with homestay provider Airbnb, becoming the third destination in the Caribbean to do so.
According to Minister of Economic Development, Eugene Rhuggenaath and Finance Minister Kenneth Gijsbertha, who both signed the agreement earlier this week, it will “create a framework” to address issues including taxes, accommodation standards and regulations share aggregate data and support Curaçao’s tourism marketing campaigns.
Airbnb’s representative for the Caribbean and Central America, Shawn Sullivan, said the “agreement with the government of Curaçao is a great example of how governments and the private sector can work together to achieve mutually desired goals. Curaçao is an important and growing market for Airbnb and we are very excited to be working with the government to help grow sustainable tourism to the island.”
Airbnb plays an important role in Curaçao tourism industry, with one thousand listings across the island, and a typical host earns US$4,400 per year. The agreement brings new opportunities to grow Curaçao’s economy and to spawn new jobs with the sharing economy.
“Collaboration is vital determinant of success and competitiveness for both individual tourism entities and destinations alike. Through our collaborative efforts, we can achieve more effective and efficient tourism development and a greater degree of environmental and social-cultural sustainability. Therefore, I am very pleased with the agreement signed today with Airbnb,” Rhuggenaath said.
With this partnership, Airbnb will continue promoting tourism and highlighting Curaçao’s history and culture. The strategy focuses on the diversification of the tourism industry and maintaining a balance with citizens and visitors.