Jamaica to host first regional ‘Angel Investor Forum’ next month

LINK-Caribbean, an investment facilitation project designed to position startup regional businesses to attract capital from private investors, particularly so-called business angel investors will host the region’s first Caribbean Angel Investor Forum in Montego Bay, Jamaica on May 11 and 12, 2017, according to a release from the Barbados-based Caribbean Export Development Agency.

The release says the “invitation only” event is expected to attract “high-net-worth individuals from across the region and internationally and will be staged with funding from the US$1.6 million LINK-Caribbean programme that seeks to promote the development of “an organized angel investment ecosystem within the Caribbean.” 

Implemented by the Caribbean Export Development Agency, LINK-Caribbean is an initiative of the World Bank Group’s Entrepreneurship Programme for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC), a seven-year, Cdn$20 million programme funded by the government of Canada and implemented by the Caribbean Export Development Agency. The release says that the programme aims to create “a supportive ecosystem for high-growth and sustainable enterprises throughout the Carib-bean.”

Angel investments and several variants thereof are growing in popularity in the region and frequently angel investors are among an entrepreneurs’ family and friends. Such investors may provide one-time cash injection to help kick start the business, or else, provide an ongoing injection of money to support the company through its early stages. Customarily, they provide more favourable terms compared with other lenders, including commercial banks. Much of their focus is on helping startups take their first steps, rather than the possible profit they may get from the business.

In recent years the World Bank has been investing in improving the angel investment prospects in the Caribbean through technical assistance and coaching for entrepreneurs and investors. The Carib-bean Export release said that during this period the region has seen the emergence of five angel investor groups: First Angels Jamaica and Alpha Angels in Jamaica, Trident Angels in Barbados, and IP Angels and Renaissance Angels in Trinidad and Tobago. It says that these groups have made investments ranging from US$50,000 to US$200,000 in at least six companies in the region.

According to Caribbean Export, the Montego Bay forum will provide a platform for angels “to come together as a community to share best practices and knowledge; network; and uncover new investment opportunities.” It adds that “the forum will explore the current landscape of angel investing in the region” as well as provide a series of workshops on critical aspects of angel investing including due diligence; assessing firm valuation; deal structuring; and strategies for developing a successful partnership with entrepreneurs. In Montego Bay, Caribbean angels will also serve as discussion facilitators while, according to Caribbean Export, the forum will also provide an opportunity for a select number of entrepreneurs, including existing portfolio companies of regional angel groups, to present their businesses.

Since the start of the programme, LINK-Caribbean has awarded US$150,000 to regional businesses seeking to raise private capital to support the development of their enterprises to make them more attractive to angel investors.  Caribbean Export, meanwhile, has created the Regional Angel Investor Network in order to provide regional and global investors interested in investing in start-up and early stage companies with “deal flow or pipeline of investment opportunities.”

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