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Development Bank of Jamaica Re-Opens Innovation Grant Application Window



The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), through its Boosting Innovation Growth and Entrepreneurship Ecosystems (BIGEE), is pleased to announce that the Application Window for its Innovation Grant Fund (IGF) is now open, effective January 2, 2024. The Application Window will remain open for six (6) weeks, until February 13, 2024.

The Innovation Grant Fund (IGF) is an opportunity for medium-sized Jamaican companies with new and innovative products and service to access grant funding in the amount of Twenty million Jamaican Dollars (J$20 million).

Christopher Brown, Programme Manager, BIGEE states; “The DBJ is delighted at the projects we have funded in the last three iteration, since we began in 2020. To date we have awarded grants to twelve (12) medium-sized Jamaican companies representing an investment by the Bank of J$190 million. The majority of the projects have been successfully completed and the remaining are now in the Close Out phase; all of which has recorded growth and on an upward trajectory.”

Lu’ Shana Cheddesingh, Technical Coordinator under whose portfolio the Innovation Grant Fund falls explains “For this the fourth cohort of the IGF, we will be utilising the funding received from the European Union (EU) and so strong focus of the incoming cohort will be placed on two main areas – Women-led and/owned businesses, and Climate Mitigation projects. We will continue to fund projects from Jamaica’s productive sectors”. Continuing Ms. Cheddesingh stressed that, “Application process is via our website at“

The DBJ is encouraging medium-sized Jamaican companies with innovative products and or services that are new and revolutionary to apply.

BIGEE – Boosting Innovation Growth & Entrepreneurship Ecosystem – is the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) five-year project valued at US$25 million and financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) is the Executing Agency. The Agreement was executed between the GOJ and the IDB late 2019; however, there were unforeseen delays in the launch due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

The objective of BIGEE is to promote sustainable and robust growth among start-ups and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Jamaica. In 2021 based on the performance of the programme, the European Union (EU) awarded a non-reimbursable grant of US$8.2 million to support the initiative.

The DBJ, a wholly owned institution of the GOJ has assumed a catalytic role for initiatives that have significantly impacted MSME development over the years; this makes the institution a good fit to successfully implement the GOJ’s and IDB’s vision for the programme.

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Businessuite Top Caribbean Entrepreneurial Success Stories



The Caribbean, known for its idyllic beaches and vibrant cultures, is also a breeding ground for some of the world’s most innovative entrepreneurs. From fintech visionaries to ecommerce pioneers, these individuals have taken their diverse backgrounds and turned them into global success stories.

Let’s dive into the tales of ambition, resilience, and success that characterize the entrepreneurial spirit of the Caribbean.

Martin Hanna – Penny Pinch Inc.
Martin Hanna is a testament to the fintech revolution brewing in the Caribbean. As the CEO and Founder of Penny Pinch Inc., Hanna has redefined what it means to provide value through technology. His company caters to a growing demand for digital financial solutions, demonstrating the vast potential of fintech outside traditional tech hubs. Hanna’s success story is not just about innovation; it’s about understanding and meeting the unique needs of his market.

In a region where access to financial services can be limited, Penny Pinch Inc. stands as a beacon of hope. By focusing on user-friendly products, Hanna has ensured that technology serves as a tool for empowerment. His approach blends local insights with global trends, making Penny Pinch a standout example of how fintech can bridge gaps in the financial landscape.

Hanna’s journey is notable for its focus on sustainable growth and community impact. He believes in leveraging technology to create a more inclusive economy, a vision that has earned him respect and admiration both within and beyond the Caribbean. As Penny Pinch continues to expand, Hanna’s leadership reflects a commitment to innovation that serves all.


Nicholas A. Rees – Kanoo Pays
Nicholas A. Rees, a former Olympian turned FinTech visionary, stands at the helm of Kanoo Pays. His remarkable transition from sports to business captures the essence of adaptability and determination. As the Chairman and Co-founder, Rees has steered Kanoo Pays to become a pioneering licensed Payment Institution in the Caribbean.

Under his guidance, Kanoo Pays serves as a platform for financial inclusion, connecting individuals and businesses across the region. Rees’s approach combines a deep understanding of finance with a passion for technology, making banking more accessible and empowering for Caribbean communities.

Rees’s background as a Chartered Certified Accountant, coupled with his MBA from the University of Miami, provides a solid foundation for his entrepreneurial ventures. His vision for Kanoo Pays includes not just financial success but also a significant impact on society, highlighting the role of businesses in driving social change.

His story is a reminder that entrepreneurship can emerge from any backdrop. Rees leverages his diverse experiences to build a company that not only profits but profoundly impacts lives. Kanoo Pays exemplifies how innovative business models can transform the financial landscape in the Caribbean and beyond.


Elevating Ecommerce: Kadion Preston and Caribshopper
Kadion Preston, co-founder and CEO of Caribshopper, has carved a niche in the booming ecommerce sector. Through Caribshopper, Preston facilitates global sales for Caribbean merchants, enabling them to reach audiences far beyond their geographical confines. This venture not only showcases the rich diversity of Caribbean products but also boosts local economies by opening new markets.

Preston’s tech background, combined with a keen business acumen, has allowed him to navigate the complex challenges of ecommerce. His platform stands as a testament to the power of digital transformation to foster economic growth and regional integration.

With Caribshopper, Preston has built a bridge connecting Caribbean creativity and craftsmanship with the world. His work has not only elevated the profiles of local artisans and businesses but also inspired a new generation of entrepreneurs in the region to look beyond traditional markets.

Preston’s entrepreneurial journey is a masterclass in harnessing technology for social and economic development. By leveraging ecommerce, he has created opportunities for growth and innovation that transcend geographical limitations, making him a pivotal figure in the Caribbean’s entrepreneurial landscape.

The stories of Martin Hanna, Nicholas A. Rees, and Kadion Preston highlight just a sliver of the entrepreneurial talent flourishing in the Caribbean. These individuals exemplify the region’s capacity for innovation, resilience, and global impact. Their ventures have not only transformed their respective industries but also offered valuable lessons:

Adaptability and resilience are key to overcoming challenges. Innovation should be driven by a desire to meet the specific needs of one’s community. Entrepreneurship can be a powerful tool for economic and social empowerment. Global success is achievable, regardless of one’s geographical starting point. As the Caribbean continues to make its mark on the global stage, these entrepreneurs serve as beacons of hope and inspiration, showing that with vision, hard work, and a commitment to impact, anything is possible.

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Businessuite Women

The Path Of Least Resistance…Monique Powell



“The path of least resistance would be to just take a job in someone’s company and start enjoying the (comparatively) soft life again. Nothing in this country is set up to truly foster the growth of entrepreneurship. The fortitude and resilience required to stick it out is next level. There’s a part of me that sticks with it because I do feel like the next generation of people who look like me (skin colour and gender) need to see even more visible examples of people from working class backgrounds building enterprises. Money is not what keeps me doing this. The salary I had when I left my job in 2016…a whole 7+ years ago is STILL more than what I take from the business now. Some days I’m motivated to keep doing this, some days I wonder if I’m making the right the choice with my life.”

Monique Powell

#36 Monique Powell, Founder and CEO of QuickCart (formerly QuickPlate)

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