None of the Caribbean's seven newly-formed 'angel investor' groups are based in the Bahamas, despite efforts to boost this source of entrepreneur financing throughout the region.
The Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA) co-hosted the inaugural Caribbean Angel Investor Forum in Montego Bay earlier this month, together with the World Bank Group. The event, which attracted some of the region's key business people, sought to lay the foundation for a more active angel investor system within the Caribbean.
The investor forum is just one of the activities of the LINK-Caribbean programme that is being funded by the World Bank Group and government of Canada, as part of the Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC).
EPIC, for which CEDA is the implementation agency, aims to support the development of innovative and growth-oriented enterprises in the Caribbean region. The creation of well-functioning angel groups is key component to the financing aspect.
Galina Sotirova, the World Bank Group's Country Manager for Jamaica, highlighted the importance of innovative entrepreneurs in generating jobs, economic growth and competitiveness.
"Over the past two-and-a-half years the World Bank has supported angel group development, and companies are getting valuable exposure to experienced, connected businesspersons. Over 70 entrepreneurs have pitched or held private meetings. Entrepreneurs in the region can become viable future economic contributors, and it is the desire to invest in Caribbean entrepreneurs that makes angels really unique and valuable to the ecosystem," said Ms Sotirova.
Five entrepreneurs delivered pitches to the international Angel audience, and so far there have been eight Angel investor 'deals' across the region. The LINK-Caribbean programme, which provides supplemental funding to entrepreneurs, is aiming to generate more.
There are currently seven Angel groups within the Caribbean (First Angels Jamaica and Alpha Angels in Jamaica; Trident Angels in Barbados; Renaissance Angels and IP Angels in Trinidad and Tobago; and Enclaces and Nexxus in the Dominican Republic) actively looking for investment opportunities. Their coming together via the Regional Angel Investor Network (RAIN) enables greater regional collaboration or syndication to pool resources and present more attractive investment options for early-stage investment.
CEDA director, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, praised the Angel groups and independent Angels , saying that they are "pioneering alternative sources of funding for the private sector and are therefore instrumental partners for private sector development".
Deborah Duperly-Pinks, on behalf of the Canadian High Commission, added: "Now, more than ever globally, there is an increased interest in the level of entrepreneurship and small business development. Governments look to entrepreneurs in seeking solutions to address limited or slow economic growth and rising unemployment."