Published On: Fri, Apr 24th, 2015

Jamaica launches first angel investor network, supported by international partners

Inter-American_Development_BankKINGSTON, Jamaica -- First Angels Jamaica, a new Jamaican angel investor network, supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) and the World Bank Group, was officially launched on Wednesday in Kingston. The network is geared towards helping growth-oriented entrepreneurs with capital and mentorship. The launch was also marked by the group’s first investment in a Jamaican startup.

Angel networks are formal groups of high net worth individuals who make direct investments of personal funds into early-stage businesses.

According to chairman of the network, Joseph Matalon: “Angel Investors play a critical role in helping start-up or early stage ventures achieve above average growth. They not only provide patient capital but play the role of coach, mentor and board member, introducing entrepreneurs to potential customers, helping them solve potential problems, and gain credibility in the marketplace.”

Jamaica’s economy, which is characterized by low growth and high debt, needs new innovative sectors that are dependent on private sector-led, entrepreneurial activities.

First Angels Jamaica (FAJ) was created in July 2014 recognising the challenges that entrepreneurs face in accessing growth capital and the need to fill a critical gap in the ecosystem for venture capital in Jamaica. The network’s investment focus will evolve over time as opportunities for investment are presented. Some founding members have already invested in companies developing digital applications, digital media, and other innovative businesses.

Recently, FAJ received a grant from the Xcala Programme, funded by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) of the Inter-American Development Bank, which supports the development of angel investment networks through Latin America and the Caribbean.

The IDB views the emergence of Angel Investment Networks as an essential element in the development of a robust eco-system for dynamic entrepreneurship and the growth of a venture capital industry, in Jamaica. This grant complements the MIF’s ongoing work to support venture capital development in the country.

“Financial support from Xcala will help with the costs of managing the FAJ network including recruiting and training new members, marketing, planning and organizing pitch events, training entrepreneurs to develop winning pitch decks and enabling members to attend international conferences and learning events,” said Sandra Glasgow, FAJ founding member.

“The network has also received invaluable support from the World Bank’s InfoDev programme, funded by the government of Canada, which is helping to develop angel networks throughout the Caribbean,” she added.

infoDev provides direct technical assistance for the launch and build-out of angel networks including the design of operational and management structures, establishment of investment processes including screening entrepreneurs and due diligence and ongoing collaboration in educational programming for entrepreneurs and investors on angel investing.

Overall, the World Bank Group’s infoDev program partners with FAJ under its Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC) as access to early-stage financing for growth-oriented startups can lead to innovative and sustainable enterprises, employment and growth that benefit the wider regional economy.

First Angels has already recruited 13 investor members and two associate members: KPMG and Hart Muirhead Fatta; held three pitch events and received presentations from seven entrepreneurs. Its first investment in a Jamaican startup will be concluded this month.

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