Budding student entrepreneurs from various faculties at the University of the West Indies, Mona presented their business ideas in the finals of the Vincent HoSang UWI Venture Competition at Mona School of Business and Management on Friday, January 29, 2021.
Following the virtual semifinals which were held in December 2020, eight student teams of the 22 teams progressed to the finals of the competition. The teams presented to a live panel of 3 in person judges and 1 virtual judge, while partners, mentors and supporters were able to join in on the experience via YouTube. In addition to the cash prizes of $350,000, $250,000 and $175,000 respectively for 1st to 3rd place winners, teams also had the opportunity to win a prize for “Digital Transformation” to the tune of $200,000 which was sponsored by Baymac.
The eight finalists presented ideas spanning the areas of the environment, media and news reporting, education and virtual recreation. It is safe to say that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, students have taken a step back to evaluate the world we live in today versus the world we will live in beyond 2021. After the team presentations, the judges, Wayne Sutherland, Director, JMMB Group; Professor Jennifer Bailey, Assistant Professor, Babson College; Wayne Beecher, Founder and CEO, Alt^Catalys and Douglas Lindo, Chairman, Vincent HoSang Entrepreneurship Programme Board, selected the top three businesses.
First place winner, Factions News, a mobile application that collects news data from ordinary citizens across the country for broadcast on various platforms providing Jamaicans with authentic news in real time. Second place winner, CERES Laboratories, a unique research company that focuses on new technology known as vehicular exhaust absorbers seeks to preserve the natural environment. Third place winners, Epic Escape Room, a digitally enhanced business provides a 60 minute real-life adventure game, with virtual capabilities that is mentally stimulating offering uniquely designed concepts and puzzles for its users.
Copping two significant awards, team Mother Theresa Driving Academy, won the JMMB Joan Duncan Award for Corporate Social Responsibility and the award for Digital Transformation. The business co-owned and operated by Ms. Leneka Rhoden, a second time participant in the Competition, has digitized all driver education needs, including applying for learners permits, acquiring educational materials and driving test preparation for Jamaican drivers’ licenses.
Dr. Indianna Minto-Coy, Academic Director for MSc. Programmes and Co-Head of MIBES (Marketing, International Business, Entrepreneurship and Strategy), speaking on behalf of Executive Director, Dr. David McBean expressed that “entrepreneurs are problem solvers and demonstrate they are vital for Jamaica and the region’s development”. Dr. Minto-Coy encouraged the finalists to continue their developments as they become high growth entrepreneurs of Jamaica with the assistance of our partners and benefactors; the Vincent HoSang Family Foundation and Caribbean Food Delights.
In addition to the Vincent HoSang Family Foundation and Caribbean Food Delights, partners for 2020 are, Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority and JMMB Joan Duncan Foundation, Development Bank of Jamaica, Jamaica Venture Capital, Regus Caribbean, Baymac and Mona Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Centre.
Mrs. Sabrina HoSang-Jordan, CEO, Caribbean Food Delights brought greetings virtually and commended all teams on their efforts throughout the competition. She congratulated the finalists and indicated that she looks forward to hosting them in the summer of 2022 given the restrictions of COVID-19 this year.
Mrs. Ava-Marie Ingram, Corporate Communications Manager, Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority, so boldly expressed in her sponsors remarks that “This competition, in addition to its many successes continues to create a culture of resilience and innovation, which we so very much need now more than ever,” which was echoed by Chairman, JMMB Joan Duncan Foundation, Mrs. Patricia Duncan-Sutherland in her remarks stating that as partners they see the value that is added from the UWIVC which contributes to the developing entrepreneurship eco-system.
The Competition which was first held in 2002, with the objective of harnessing the talents and skills of students within the UWI community and to facilitate the development of their ideas into full-fledged businesses has exceeded and surpassed the expectations of not only the benefactor but partners alike.
Mona School of Business and Management, UWIVC benefactors and partners congratulate all participants and the winners of the competition who answered the call of innovation in uncertain times like these.
Pictured (Left to Right): Wayne Sutherland (Director, JMMB Group), Professor Jennifer Bailey, (Assistant Professor Babson College), Stuart Payne and Cereta McDougall, 3rd Place Winners, Kristen Gyles, 1st Place Winner, Nkrumah Fong, 2nd Place Winner and Douglas Lindo, (Chairman, Vincent HoSang Entrepreneurship Programme).