By Douglas Mcintosh
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – The government and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) have signed a US$50 million loan agreement to implement the Boosting Innovation, Growth, and Entrepreneurship Ecosystems (BIGEE) Programme over the next ten years.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr Nigel Clarke, and general manager for the IDB’s Caribbean Group Country Department, Therese Turner Jones, signed the agreement during a brief ceremony at the Ministry’s offices in Kingston on Friday, March 13.
The project will provide financial and technical assistance support for Micro, Small and Medium-size Enterprises (MSMEs), scalable and new business start-ups with high growth potential, and entrepreneurs with sustainable business ideas. It will also benefit incubators, business support accelerators, and academia focused on the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.
The project, to be implemented by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), will be executed under two five-year US$25 million Conditional Credit Line for Investment Projects (CCLIP) funding facilities.
The programme components will include, among other things, provisions for engagements targeting innovation and growth for MSMEs – US$8.35 million; scalable start-ups – US$8.99 million; and high growth potential start-ups – US$3.47 million.
It is anticipated that these engagements will spur increased economic activity.
Dr Clarke, in his remarks, said the BIGEE Programme is intended to fill gaps within Jamaica’s entrepreneurial ecosystem while strengthening the existing framework.
It will address challenges facing MSMEs, including insufficient capital; inadequate equity instruments to assist young entrepreneurs; and “very limited” linkages between research and academic institutions that are generating and commercialising ideas.
“The BIGEE project aims to create new avenues for growth in Jamaica [by] providing support and funding for the development of a comprehensive innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem; providing effective business services to entrepreneurs, who are starting out; and providing a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation,” Dr Clarke said.
Turner Jones said the IDB is pleased to partner with the government, through the DBJ, to execute the programme. “This project, we think, is really going to be a game-changer [in terms of] how we are going to be working … focusing on productivity, innovation, growth, and value-added, using technology [and] empowering DBJ to do even bigger and better things,” she said.
For his part, DBJ managing director, Milverton Reynolds, said the programme represents “a continuation of much of the work that we have been providing for MSMEs.” The DBJ’s implementation of the project is “a role and task that we anticipate with relish,” he said.