The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) has announced that it will again be hosting its major international conference this year aimed at highlighting the readiness and attractiveness of local investment opportunities, as it brings together regional and international experts to discuss key issues impacting the continued growth of the country through public-private partnerships, innovation, entrepreneurship and the emerging private equity and venture capital markets.
Under the theme: DELIVERING ECONOMIC GROWTH THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS: Financing Regional Infrastructure, SMEs & Innovation, the conference will run over three days, June 10th-12th, at The Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, and targets entrepreneurs, start-ups and small-to-medium-sized enterprises, as well as stakeholders within the private equity, venture capital, public-private partnerships and Jamaica’s infrastructure development space.
It is anticipated that approximately 300 local and international stakeholders, including experienced practitioners and private sector investors and project developers from Canada, the United Kingdom, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas, will be in attendance, each day, to discuss, deliberate and share best practices on key subject matters.
Milverton Reynolds, Managing Director of the Development Bank of Jamaica, said, “Our gallery of speakers and presenters are among the very best local, regional and international practitioners, and they will address a number of poignant questions on: growth in the Jamaican economy, how can it be facilitated by utilising public-private partnerships and privatisation of government assets, how to incorporate climate resilience in infrastructure asset development, the use of private equity and venture capital to spur economic growth, the financing of infrastructure, SMEs and Innovation.”
This fifth DBJ conference will build on the successes of previous ones, led by DBJ’s Jamaica Venture Capital Programme (JVCP) as the Bank has hosted keynote presenters such as: Paul Ahlstrom, Venture Capitalist, Founder and CEO of Alta Ventures, USA; Dr. Josh Lerner, Harvard professor and renowned private equity expert; and Chinedu Echeruo, tech entrepreneur and founder of HopStop.com; in 2013, 2014 and 2016 respectively. Since 2017, the conference has also been expanded through a strategic partnership between the JVCP and another DBJ Division, the Public-Private Partnerships & Privatisation Division.
One of the partners at this year Conference is the Canadian High Commission, which boasts a commercial relationship with the region valued at over $2B per year in just merchandise trade. Richard York, Commercial Counselor & Senior Trade Commissioner, Canadian High Commission in Jamaica, said at the conference’s launch last Wednesday, “I don’t think it’s any secret that Jamaica is a very important partner for Canada in the region; we have very good bilateral trade in Jamaica. In fact, Canada is one of the only countries with which Jamaica has a trade surplus. We look forward to continuing to share Canadian experience and best practices with our partners here in Jamaica, but even more importantly to work to develop opportunities for Canadian and local companies to collaborate on building infrastructure needed to boost economic growth and sustainable development for all Jamaicans.”
The timing of the conference is opportune and is set against the background of Jamaican entrepreneurs and local businesses becoming more receptive to equity financing and with private equity increasingly gaining traction in the local landscape. This is a significant achievement considering the previously debt-centric environment in the island as MSMEs are now widely recognised as the engine of economic growth, especially in small economies such as Jamaica’s.
It is also noteworthy that Jamaica’s Private Equity & Venture Capital Programme and the Public-Private Partnership and Privatisation Programme have received international attention by being recognised on the 2017 LAVCA Scorecard and in the latest Infrascope Report, respectively, as among the top ten in the region. Adriana La Valley, Chief of Operations at IDB Invest, a major advisor and funder of the JVCP, said, “Jamaica has evolved in terms of being an attractive destination for investment and we’re very proud to see also that local investors are believing in Jamaica because so do we. Jamaica is spearheading the region by analysing and understanding the importance of including resiliency analyses in evaluating infrastructure projects.”
To this end, the international event will feature a blend of keynote presentations and fireside conversations, plenaries and roundtable discussions, workshops and market sounding, social and cultural activities, and numerous networking opportunities. Participants will hear first-hand about Jamaica and regional public-private infrastructure projects and privatisation opportunities and learn how private-sector investors can participate in infrastructure development.