Joseph Matalon Hailed for Taking Lead in Venture Capital

Photo Caption: Chairman, Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), Joseph M. Matalon (left), having a light exchange with (from second left), Country Representative, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Therese Turner-Jones; and Managing Director, DBJ, Milverton Reynolds. Occasion was the signing ceremony for a new US$3.5 million Technical Co-operation Agreement (TCA) between the DBJ and the IDB-Multilateral Investment Fund, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, on February 4. (Photo credit: Yhomo Hutchinson)

Country Representative, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Therese Turner-Jones, has hailed Jamaica for leading the way in the development of a venture capital eco-system in the Caribbean.

“What we are witnessing is the evolution of the development of the eco-system for venture capital and angel investors in providing more opportunities for small and medium entrepreneurs to thrive in Jamaica,” she said.

A venture capital eco-system serves the purpose of bridging the financial gap for companies, especially Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Mrs. Turner-Jones was speaking at the signing of a new US$3.5 million Technical Co-operation Agreement (TCA) between the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) and the IDB-Multilateral Investment Fund at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, on February 4.

The IDB Representative pointed out that venture capital is not a well understood field, and is something that is new to the Caribbean.

“For Jamaica, this is a pilot really for the region, because it’s not happening anywhere else,” she said.

Venture capital is money provided to support early-stage and emerging growth companies. Venture capital providers invest in companies in exchange for equity in the companies they invest in, which usually have a novel technology or business model in high technology industries.

Mrs. Turner-Jones said the IDB, which has been assisting with the development of the venture capital eco-system in Jamaica, is seeking to not just learn from this exercise, but to “also make sure that we are doing it in a way that we can replicate it in other countries around the region.”

“I think Jamaica has a really good opportunity to do this well, so that we have some results. But more importantly, I think what we are witnessing in Jamaica, is a move in terms of building another class of entrepreneurs and small companies,” she said.

In the meantime, over 100 existing and potential SMEs are expected to benefit from development support under the new technical agreement.

Speaking at the ceremony, Chairman, DBJ, Joseph M. Matalon, said this second agreement, which builds on the first signed in 2013, will target urban and rural high-growth SMEs.

“Other beneficiaries will include: regulators, service providers, investors and existing and new fund managers,” he said.

The Chairman said the bank has assumed the role of catalyst for the establishment of a venture capital and private equity industry in Jamaica, and has made crucial efforts to nurture a vibrant entrepreneurial eco-system.

He noted that the DBJ is particularly enthusiastic about the support this agreement will give to building out the country’s entrepreneurial eco-system.

This, he said, will ensure that there are supportive institutions through which the country’s entrepreneurs will be able to develop their businesses and link with investors, creating a real flow of investment ready businesses.

The new agreement is aimed at building human capacity; building the financial resources for early stage ventures and entrepreneurs; enabling the legal and regulatory environment to facilitate seamless cross border venture capital and private equity transactions; and building awareness and information dissemination.

Of the overall amount, the IDB-MIF is providing US$1,198,750 (J$145 million), while the DBJ is providing counterpart funding of US$2,284,250 (J$275 million).