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Development Bank of Jamaica Re-Opens Innovation Grant Application Window

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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 www.thinkbigee.com.“

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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Overcoming Funding Challenges: Strategies for Jamaican Entrepreneurs

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Raising capital is a critical yet challenging aspect of entrepreneurship, and Jamaican founders are no exception to this global struggle. Despite the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit and innovative ideas prevalent on the island, securing the necessary funds to grow and scale early-stage companies remains a formidable obstacle. This article explores the factors influencing investor hesitations, strategies to mitigate these challenges, and practical steps Jamaican entrepreneurs can take to enhance their funding prospects.

Factors Impacting Investor Hesitations
Investors, regardless of geographic location, exhibit common hesitations that can stymie funding efforts. Some of these factors include:

Perceived Market Risk: Investors often see emerging markets, including Jamaica, as high-risk due to economic instability, regulatory uncertainty, and less mature financial ecosystems.

Lack of Proven Track Record: Early-stage companies frequently lack a history of success, making it difficult for investors to gauge their potential for return on investment.

Insufficient Business Models: A lack of clear, scalable, and sustainable business models can deter investment. Investors seek companies with clear pathways to profitability.

Limited Access to Networks: Entrepreneurs often lack access to networks that can connect them with potential investors, advisors, and partners.

Inadequate Financial Management: Poor financial planning and management can signal to investors that a company is not ready to handle significant capital.

Scalability Concerns: Investors need assurance that a business can scale efficiently and effectively beyond its local market.

Strategies to Overcome Funding Challenges
Both investors and entrepreneurs have developed strategies to bridge the funding gap:

For Investors:
Establishing Local Partnerships: Investors often mitigate risks by partnering with local firms that have a deeper understanding of the market.

Providing Mentorship and Resources: Beyond capital, some investors offer mentorship and access to resources, helping startups build robust business models and financial strategies.

Stage-Gated Investments: By investing in stages based on achieving specific milestones, investors can reduce their exposure to risk.

For Entrepreneurs:
Building Strong Networks: Engaging with local and international entrepreneurial networks can open doors to potential investors and partners.

Seeking Alternative Funding Sources: Crowdfunding, grants, and competitions can provide initial capital and validate business ideas.

Demonstrating Market Traction: Showing proof of concept, initial sales, and customer feedback can help convince investors of the business’s potential.

Case Studies
Case Study 1: XXXRock Juice
XXXRock Juice, a Jamaican startup producing organic beverages, faced significant challenges in raising funds. By participating in international pitch competitions and leveraging social media to showcase their product’s popularity, they secured seed funding from an angel investor network. This investment enabled them to scale production and expand their market presence.

Case Study 2: XXXTech Solutions
XXXTech Solutions, a tech startup focusing on innovative software solutions for local businesses, struggled to gain investor confidence due to their early-stage status. By partnering with a local accelerator program, they received mentorship and access to a network of investors. Their refined business model and pilot projects helped secure a substantial venture capital investment.

Top 10 Ways Jamaican Founders Can Better Position Themselves.

  1. Develop a Clear and Scalable Business Model: Ensure your business plan demonstrates a clear path to scalability and profitability.
  2. Showcase Market Traction: Gather data on initial sales, customer feedback, and market demand to present a compelling case to investors.
  3. Enhance Financial Planning and Management: Maintain detailed and accurate financial records, and present realistic financial projections.
  4. Leverage Local and International Networks: Join entrepreneurial networks and attend industry events to build connections with potential investors.
  5. Participate in Accelerator and Incubator Programs: These programs offer valuable resources, mentorship, and exposure to investors.
  6. Utilize Alternative Funding Sources: Explore crowdfunding platforms, apply for grants, and enter startup competitions to gain initial capital and visibility.
  7. Focus on Strong Marketing and Branding: Develop a strong brand identity and marketing strategy to attract both customers and investors.
  8. Seek Mentorship and Advice: Engage with experienced entrepreneurs and advisors to refine your business strategy and pitch.
  9. Present a Strong Team: Highlight the strengths and expertise of your team, demonstrating that you have the skills necessary to succeed.
  10. Prepare a Compelling Pitch: Craft a clear, concise, and persuasive pitch that addresses potential investors’ concerns and showcases your business’s potential.

Conclusion
While raising funds remains a significant challenge for Jamaican entrepreneurs, understanding investor hesitations and adopting strategic measures can greatly improve their chances of success. By developing robust business models, showcasing market traction, and leveraging networks and alternative funding sources, Jamaican founders can better position themselves to secure the investment needed to grow and scale their companies. The entrepreneurial journey is fraught with obstacles, but with the right strategies and perseverance, these challenges can be overcome.

 

BlackSlate Holdings Group Limited

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The Rise of Aldo: A Case Study in Effective Branding

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Aldo Bensadoun,

Early Beginnings and Visionary Leadership
Founded in 1972 by Aldo Bensadoun, the Aldo brand began as a single store in Montreal, Canada. Bensadoun, a second-generation shoe retailer, envisioned a brand that combined quality footwear with affordability, appealing to fashion-forward consumers. His understanding of retail and passion for footwear laid the foundation for Aldo’s future success.

Key Players in Aldo’s Growth
Aldo Bensadoun: As the founder, Bensadoun’s innovative approach to retail and deep understanding of consumer behavior were pivotal. He believed in creating an emotional connection with customers, which influenced the brand’s marketing strategies.

David Bensadoun: Aldo’s son, who later became CEO, continued to drive the company’s vision forward. His leadership focused on digital transformation and global expansion, ensuring the brand stayed relevant in a rapidly changing market.

Branding Strategy
Aldo’s branding strategy revolves around three core principles: affordability, fashion-forwardness, and an engaging customer experience.

Affordability and Quality: From the outset, Aldo positioned itself as a brand that offers stylish, high-quality shoes at reasonable prices. This value proposition appealed to a broad demographic, allowing the brand to capture a significant market share.

Fashion-Forward Approach: Aldo is known for staying ahead of fashion trends. The brand’s design team works to quickly bring runway trends to retail, ensuring that customers have access to the latest styles. This strategy has helped Aldo maintain its reputation as a trendy and desirable brand.

Customer Experience: Aldo places a strong emphasis on creating a positive in-store experience. Staff are trained to provide excellent customer service, and stores are designed to be inviting and easy to navigate. This focus on customer experience extends to their online presence, with a user-friendly website and robust e-commerce capabilities.

Digital Transformation and Innovation
Under David Bensadoun’s leadership, Aldo embraced digital innovation to stay competitive. The brand invested in an omnichannel retail strategy, integrating its physical stores with its online platform to provide a seamless shopping experience. This included initiatives such as:

E-commerce Expansion: Aldo significantly improved its online shopping experience, making it easier for customers to find and purchase products online. This move was particularly beneficial during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many consumers shifted to online shopping.

Mobile Integration: Recognizing the growing importance of mobile shopping, Aldo developed a mobile app that offers personalized recommendations, exclusive deals, and a simplified checkout process.

Case Studies in Success
Aldo’s strategic use of digital marketing and social media has played a crucial role in its branding. For example, the brand has leveraged platforms like Instagram and Facebook to engage with younger audiences, using influencers and user-generated content to build brand loyalty and drive sales.

Sustainability Initiatives: Recently, Aldo has focused on sustainability, launching eco-friendly collections and committing to reducing its carbon footprint. These efforts have resonated with environmentally conscious consumers and have been a significant part of the brand’s modern identity.

Pop-Up Stores and Events: To create buzz and reach new customers, Aldo has utilized pop-up stores and special events. These temporary installations often feature exclusive products and interactive experiences, enhancing brand visibility and consumer engagement.

Conclusion
Aldo’s rise from a single store to a global footwear brand is a testament to visionary leadership, a robust branding strategy, and an ability to adapt to changing market conditions. By focusing on affordability, fashion-forwardness, and customer experience, and by embracing digital innovation, Aldo has maintained its relevance and appeal across generations and markets.

Sources:

​ (HubSpot Blog)​
​ (Map & Fire)​
​ (Fabrik Brands)​
​ (Think with Google)

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The Rise of Hugo Boss: A Journey Through Branding and Strategy

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Hugo Boss, the German luxury fashion house, has undergone a remarkable transformation since its inception, evolving into a globally recognized brand through strategic branding, innovative marketing, and resilience in the face of historical challenges.

Hugo Ferdinand Boss

Early History and Controversial Beginnings
Founded in 1924 by Hugo Ferdinand Boss in Metzingen, Germany, the company initially produced workwear and uniforms. The brand’s early history is marked by its involvement in manufacturing uniforms for the Nazi regime during World War II, a period that remains a sensitive and controversial part of its legacy. Post-war, Hugo Boss was restructured and shifted focus to men’s suits, leveraging Germany’s burgeoning post-war economy to rebuild and expand​.

Key Players and Strategic Transformations
The company’s significant transformation began under the leadership of Jochen Holy and Uwe Holy in the 1970s. They modernized the brand, focusing on stylish, high-quality men’s suits which became synonymous with business success and power. This repositioning played a crucial role in establishing Hugo Boss as a premier name in the fashion industry.

In recent years, the brand has continued to evolve under the direction of Daniel Grieder, who became CEO in 2021. Grieder has driven a bold rebranding effort aimed at rejuvenating the brand’s image and appeal, particularly among younger consumers​.

Branding Strategy: The Dual-Brand Approach
Hugo Boss operates under two primary brands: BOSS and HUGO. This dual-brand strategy allows the company to target distinct market segments effectively:

BOSS: Known for its sophisticated, high-quality business and casual wear, BOSS targets a more mature, affluent demographic. It encompasses the company’s core offerings of tailored suits and refined casual attire.

HUGO: Positioned as a more youthful and edgy line, HUGO appeals to a younger, fashion-forward audience. It includes trendier items and streetwear, often featuring bold designs and contemporary fits​.

Innovative Marketing Campaigns

The rebranding efforts in 2022, under the campaign slogan “#BeYourOwnBoss”, involved a comprehensive overhaul of the brand’s visual identity, product lines, and marketing strategies. The campaign featured a diverse array of high-profile influencers, including Kendall Jenner, Hailey Bieber, and rapper Future, which significantly boosted the brand’s visibility and appeal in the digital age​​.

Case Studies: Digital Transformation and Market Expansion
The “CLAIM 5” strategy introduced in 2021 highlights the brand’s ambition to achieve substantial growth by 2025. This strategy focuses on five key areas: boosting brand relevance, enhancing product lines, leading in digital innovation, optimizing retail experiences, and achieving operational excellence. As part of this initiative, Hugo Boss has significantly increased its digital marketing efforts and embraced data-driven decision-making to stay ahead in a competitive market​​.

Moreover, the company’s investment in digitalization includes the launch of the Hugo Boss Digital Campus in Porto, Portugal, which aims to leverage advanced data analytics and AI to enhance customer experiences and streamline operations​​.

This strategic and multifaceted approach underscores the brand’s ability to adapt and thrive in the dynamic fashion industry, ensuring its legacy and influence continue to grow in the years to come.

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Norbrook Equity Partners Expands Footprint in Panama with Acquisition of KFC and Dairy Queen

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Norbrook Equity Partners Limited (NEPL), a prominent Jamaican investment group, has announced a significant expansion into the Panamanian market with the acquisition of the KFC and Dairy Queen franchises. This strategic move marks a notable development in the Panamanian quick-service restaurant (QSR) landscape and underscores Norbrook’s ambition to deepen its presence in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Current Operations and Market Presence
KFC has a longstanding history in Panama, having served the market for over 45 years. The brand is well-established, offering a variety of popular menu items and maintaining a robust presence across the country. Similarly, Dairy Queen enjoys a solid reputation, particularly known for its ice cream and fast-food offerings in key locations like the Centennial Mall​ ​.

Competitive Landscape
The QSR market in Panama is competitive, with major international brands such as McDonald’s, Burger King, and Subway vying for market share. KFC and Dairy Queen have carved out niches with their unique offerings—KFC with its famous fried chicken and Dairy Queen with its signature Blizzards and ice cream treats. The entry of Norbrook Equity Partners introduces a dynamic new player with extensive experience in managing and expanding food service brands.

The Decision to Sell
The previous owners of the Panamanian KFC and Dairy Queen franchises likely saw the sale as an opportunity to leverage the strategic capabilities and capital strength of Norbrook Equity Partners. Norbrook’s proven track record of successful acquisitions and its ability to inject capital for growth likely played a crucial role in the decision to transfer ownership​.

Who Are the New Owners?
Norbrook Equity Partners, founded by Khary Robinson, is a diversified investment holding company based in Kingston, Jamaica. The firm has built a reputation for identifying and growing high-potential businesses across various sectors, including logistics, consumer goods, and services. Their portfolio includes well-known brands such as Mailpac Group, Hertz Jamaica, and Express Fitness. This acquisition aligns with Norbrook’s strategy to expand its footprint in the Caribbean and Latin American markets​.

Opportunities for Growth and Expansion
Norbrook Equity Partners’ acquisition of KFC and Dairy Queen in Panama opens several avenues for growth. With new capital and strategic direction, these franchises can enhance their market presence through expanded menu offerings, improved customer service, and innovative marketing strategies. Additionally, there is potential for opening new locations to increase accessibility and market penetration.

Norbrook’s expertise in scaling businesses and its strategic focus on the Caribbean and Latin America positions it well to leverage the existing strengths of KFC and Dairy Queen. This move is expected to bring operational efficiencies, improved supply chain logistics, and enhanced customer experiences, ultimately driving growth in these markets​​.

Looking Forward
Norbrook’s entry into the Panamanian QSR market signals a robust phase of growth and innovation. The acquisition is set to not only strengthen the presence of KFC and Dairy Queen but also stimulate the competitive landscape, offering Panamanian consumers enhanced dining experiences. As Norbrook Equity Partners continues to expand its portfolio, its strategic investments are poised to unlock significant value and drive sustainable growth across the region.

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Who Is Chorvelle Johnson-Cunningham CEO, Sagicor Bank Jamaica?

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Chorvelle Johnson-Cunningham is a distinguished leader in the financial sector, currently serving as the CEO of Sagicor Bank Jamaica. With a career marked by resilience, innovation, and a commitment to community upliftment, she has significantly impacted the banking industry in Jamaica.

Early Career and Personal Background
Chorvelle’s journey to the top is a testament to her determination and faith. She has navigated significant personal and professional challenges, including a period of severe illness that tested her resolve and faith. This experience has profoundly influenced her approach to leadership and self-care, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance​​.

Leadership at Sagicor Bank
Since assuming her role at Sagicor Bank, Chorvelle has spearheaded numerous initiatives aimed at enhancing customer service and expanding the bank’s reach. Notably, under her leadership, Sagicor Bank introduced the “Bank on Wheels” mobile banking solution during the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring continued access to banking services when physical branches were less accessible​.

Chorvelle has also championed financial inclusion and literacy, launching initiatives such as the SME Business Banking Resource Centre to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). She has been particularly supportive of women entrepreneurs, providing guidance and resources to help them succeed in the business world​.

Advocacy and Community Engagement
Beyond her professional achievements, Chorvelle is an advocate for women’s empowerment and personal development. She encourages women to climb the corporate ladder through hard work, self-assessment, and surrounding themselves with supportive networks. Her advice is rooted in her own experiences and challenges, offering a relatable and inspiring message to aspiring female leaders​.

Values and Personal Philosophy
Chorvelle’s leadership style is heavily influenced by her personal values and upbringing. She emphasizes respect, teamwork, and treating others as one would like to be treated. These principles have guided her through various professional and personal challenges, reinforcing her belief in the power of a supportive community and faith​.

In summary, Chorvelle Johnson-Cunningham’s leadership at Sagicor Bank Jamaica exemplifies a blend of strategic innovation, community focus, and personal resilience. Her contributions to the financial sector and her advocacy for women’s empowerment make her a notable figure in Jamaica’s corporate landscape.

 

#11 Chorvelle Johnson Cunningham, Chief Executive Officer of Sagicor Bank Limited

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