As the halfway point of the two-year LINK-Caribbean Angel Investment program approaches, over $500,000 USD has been awarded to 14 Caribbean companies to support their development to attract angel investment.
The World Bank Group, together with the Caribbean Export Development Agency, launched LINK-Caribbean last September, funded by the government of Canada. The investment facilitation program aims to enable early-stage Caribbean entrepreneurs to raise capital from private investors, particularly business angel investors.
It also aims to contribute toward the development of an angel investment ecosystem across the Caribbean, and early indicators would suggest that is exactly what is happening. With investment of $1.6 million USD, the program has awarded 11 investment readiness grants and 3 co-investment grants, and supported the growth of a Regional Angel Investor Network (RAIN) which now has business angels actively looking for early-stage and start-up businesses in which to invest.
“It is encouraging to see the entrepreneurs coming forward to seek investment and get involved in the program. We have some bright, talented entrepreneurs with great ideas and businesses that can integrate into the global markets. The support from World Bank Group via the LINK-Caribbean program is just the first step.” said Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency.
“We are delighted to see that LINK-Caribbean has helped catalyze the growth of the Caribbean’s entrepreneurship ecosystem,” said Sophia Muradyan, Coordinator of the World Bank Group’s Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC), which includes LINK-Caribbean.
The program hosted the Caribbean Angel Investor Forum in May 2017 which helped to spur the development of new angel investment groups in the Bahamas. The region now has active angel groups in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, the Dominican Republic and Barbados. Increased awareness and understanding around angel investing have increased the number of entrepreneurs seeing investment.
“We recognize that there is still a lack of knowledge as it relates to the various investment instruments available to entrepreneurs. Angel investing isn’t for everyone, but with greater understanding it’s becoming a viable option, as seen from the range of businesses applying to be part of the program,” said Chris McNair, Manager of Competitiveness and Export Promotion at Caribbean Export.
For companies that are not quite investment-ready, the Investment Readiness grant provides financial assistance for them to make themselves more attractive to a potential investor. The first tranche of IR-grant recipients are now in a better position to attract significant investment from business angels. If they qualify, they can have 50% of that investment matched with a co-investment grant.
IR Grant recipient, Khalil Bryan said the grant has enabled his company, Caribbean Transit Solutions, to increase marketing locally, make improvements to its mobile app and secure the app platform from its original developers. The grant also put the company into the spotlight of regional angel investors.