Jamaican PM launches Caribbean Idea Marketplace initiative

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica — On Monday in Montego Bay, in the context of the Jamaica Investment Forum 2012, the prime minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson Miller, launched the Caribbean Idea Marketplace initiative (CIM), a business plan competition platform that encourages local and Diaspora entrepreneurs to forge partnerships around innovative projects that will generate employment and economic opportunities in the Caribbean region.

At the launch, Steven Puig, vice president for the private sector and non-sovereign guaranteed operations, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), emphasized the important role the Diaspora plays in development, through remittances, investments and imports. He further underlined the commitment of the IDB in supporting initiatives like CIM in the Caribbean and Latin America.

Kris Balderston, US Secretary of State’s special representative for global partnerships, introduced a video message from US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, highlighting US government support for CIM. Balderston explained that CIM is part of the International Diaspora Engagement Alliance (IDEA), an innovative platform for public-private partnerships designed to engage Diaspora communities, the private sector, and public institutions in a collaborative process. He stated that the goal of IDEA is to support the development of Diaspora-centered partnerships that promote trade and investment, volunteerism, philanthropy, diplomacy, entrepreneurship, and innovation in countries of origin.

Present at the head table were other sponsors of the program. The sponsors said they were pleased to be involved in a programme which has the potential to bring significant and positive benefit to the Caribbean region. They also confirmed their commitment to this innovative initiative and praised Compete Caribbean for leading the implementation of the program.

Mark Linehan, CEO of Digicel Jamaica, commented: “As the number one mobile operator in the region, Digicel is committed to – and has been instrumental in – creating employment and opportunities for Caribbean people and to driving innovation and economic growth. As such, we are delighted to be a part of this fantastic programme.”

“Scotiabank is proud to support the CIM because we believe it has the potential to create economic opportunities through the creation and expansion of small and medium enterprises,” said Claude Norfolk, senior vice-president for the Caribbean Region, Scotiabank. “We have been supporting trade and businesses in the region for 120 years and know first-hand the benefits these partnerships create.” 

Jose Jorge Saavedra, executive director of Compete Caribbean, and Melissa Martinez-Nadal, Caribbean Idea Marketplace coordinator, delivered a special presentation on the new initiative.

Compete Caribbean will manage the initiative and will provide US$100,000 grant funding for winning projects. Compete Caribbean is a program that provides technical assistance grants and investment funding to support private sector development in the Caribbean region. The program is jointly funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Kingdom Department of International Development (DFID) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The program supports projects in 15 Caribbean countries in partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank.

Saavedra said, “CIM is an opportunity for entrepreneurs on both sides of the Atlantic to upgrade and expand their businesses and increase revenue. At the same time, this initiative can also help to solve some of the Caribbean region’s most pressing challenges by increasing investment, employment and the availability of goods and services. It is therefore fitting that we launch CIM at this Jamaica Investment Forum where public and private sector actors from across the region have come together to discuss investment opportunities in Jamaica, and we thank the Jamaican government and the organizers of the Forum for the opportunity.” 

Martinez-Nadal invited local and Diaspora entrepreneurs to submit applications for CIM funding. She stated: “CIM will award grants on a competitive basis. Individuals and firms in CARIFORUM countries wishing to participate in CIM are invited to submit a project concept note at www.caribbeanidea.org. Ideas must be submitted in partnership with a Caribbean Diaspora entrepreneur or business located in the USA, Canada and the UK. The application window will be open from today until May 31, 2012.” http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/headline-Jamaican-PM-launches-Caribbean-Idea-Marketplace-initiative-10029.html

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