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Start-Up Jamaica Attracts Tech-Savvy Entrepreneurs

8566347404_d6d5cf6022_oA new initiative to jump-start Jamaica’s entrepreneurial tech sector is now up and running and following the lead of countries as diverse as Chile, Vietnam and Jordan.

Start-Up Jamaica (SUJ), whose website was launched last week, is a government initiative, based on the success of Start-Up Chile.

It is designed to help entrepreneurs transform business ideas over a period of about four months into effective business plans capable of attracting investment.

“This is how we are going to earn foreign exchange for our country,” said Julian Robinson, minister of state in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, at the launch of the website at the annual PSOJ/JMMB Economic Forum in Kingston last Thursday.

Start-Up Chile is also a state-backed program launched in 2010 to attract early-stage, high-potential entrepreneurs on an international scale “to bootstrap their start-ups”.

In Jamaica, tech-savvy entrepreneurs will follow a 100-day accelerator program that will allow them to turn an idea into a business plan, to then attract investment from an angel investor, Robinson said.

“We will challenge the entrepreneurs to look beyond the shores of Jamaica or even the Caribbean,” Robinson said.

There are many ideas out there, but the tech entrepreneurs will need mentors, as many “have never run a business in their lives,” he said.

By the time the winners approach investors for funding, the accelerator process will have removed a lot of the risk associated with investing in untested entrepreneurs, Robinson said.

Persons must apply to the SUJ program.

There is a seven-stage process, which starts with entrepreneurs outlining their idea in 140 characters or less. Approved applicants will then enter a boot camp in September and will receive a contribution of US$30,000, including US$14,000 in cash.

One member of the team has to be full-time, Robinson said, and will need to survive on those funds for 100 days or so.



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