Young Entrepreneurs Prove They’re Made of More!
After several rounds of pitches in the Made of More Entrepreneur Challenge (MoMEC), hosted by Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship - Caribbean and The Arthur Guinness Project, Mandeville-based businesswoman Lacey-Ann Bartley of Bartley's All in Wood got the highest points and received her full loan ask of $5000. The 29 year old was among 8 business owners who made their final presentations to a panel of 7 judges at the ATL Showroom at the Branson Centre in Montego Bay on Friday.
“It's a win for all of us. We are all building businesses and this journey has introduced me to some wonderful entrepreneurs. All in Wood is about to buy well needed machines to meet the demand and systemise our operations,” said Bartley. The entrepreneurs were given the opportunity to pitch for a purse of US$130,000 of which US$10,000 was given in grant form to the company that demonstrated the most socially impactful business concept. Carol Lue of Caribshare Biogas walked away with that prize. The remaining US$120,000 in loans was divided among the companies who delivered successful business pitches. Business owners made a request of the judges and five of the eight finalists were granted access to their loan based on their ability to repay and their ability to grow and scale their businesses. Loans were granted to the businesses at a 4% interest rate. Other winners of the challenge included Theo Smith of Great House Caterers who received a US$25,000 loan, Craslyn Benjamin of Benlar Foods who got a US$40,000 loan and Sean Morgan-DMS Dental & Medical Supplies who received a US$35,000 loan. Randy McLaren of Bresheh also got a loan of US$15,000.
The competition comes as a result of a two year old partnership between the Sir Arthur Guinness Project and the Branson Centre for Entrepreneurship-Caribbean, geared at providing innovative funding opportunities for local companies and start-ups. Lisa Lake, CEO of the Branson Centre for Entrepreneurship opened the day’s proceedings welcoming members of the Jamaican business community. Imru James, Brand Manager of Guinness revelled with the winners at their success in acquiring funding for their businesses. "The Sir Arthur Guinness Projects are geared at impacting the communities in which we distribute. We believe that we build Jamaica by being a part of social change and one way that happens is through the growth of small businesses in our locale. Our vision coincides with that of the Branson Centre so it is a seamless partnership". Sean Morgan of DMS Medical Supplies is encouraged by his award and is confident his business will catapult. “The issue that this award will solve is the ability to source and manage inventory to meet large contracts and customer demand. Access to capital for a small business continues to be a challenge for small businesses and affects our ability to meet customer demand." Randy McLaren of Bresheh, who appeared a crowd favourite given his emphatic and eloquent pitch, believes in building Jamaica by making Jamaican products to serve Jamaicans. McLaren is a well-known social advocate for youth and offers a wide variety of custom made bags including school bags, corp lunch bags and custom made bags provided for corporate companies locally and internationally. In his pitch he posited that over 600,000 backpacks are imported into Jamaica each year to a value of $300 million. McLaren has formed local partnerships to sell his bags to Jamaicans, made by Jamaicans and customized under his Bresheh brand. The competition was judged by local businessmen and women who hail across local and Caribbean industries. Included were Anna Jones, Entrepreneurship Director of Virgin Unite, Blandine JnPaul-Reid, Head of Marketing & Innovation at Red Stripe Jamaica, David Hall, Chairman of the Branson Centre and CEO of VIP Attractions, Marcus Richards, Founder and Managing Director of Greystone Capital, Mark Anderson, Managing Director of Virgin Holidays, Mark McIntosh VP of Portland Holdings and Branson Centre Board Member and Sandra Glasgow Managing Director of Biztactics and Founding Member of First Angels Jamaica. |P|