The 2021 Vincent HoSang UWI Venture Competition (UWIVC) will award student entrepreneurs at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona with over J$1 Mil in cash and prizes to be used to invest in their businesses to help them scale and grow. Established in 2002 the UWIVC was created as a collaboration between Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM) and the Vincent HoSang Family Foundation with the objective of assisting budding tertiary level student entrepreneurs with bringing their ideas to life.
In this current increasingly uncertain economic environment, it is more critical now than ever to encourage students to become self-sufficient and not rely on the traditional nine to five job to earn a sustainable income; this is why the UWIVC remains committed to creating a blueprint to success for entrepreneurs. Ultimately, the goal being, to be the premier resource for tertiary level student entrepreneurs in the Caribbean, equipping them with the resources they need to operate successful businesses and become globally competitive.
The UWIVC is open to all enrolled UWI Mona students - undergraduate and graduate. Since inception, the Programme has raised over J$50,000,000 in seed money, provided a robust mentorship programme involving industry experts as well as thought leaders, and commercialized over 10 businesses, with multiple Competition winners and finalists transforming their ideas into successful entities.
To name a few, positioned as an affordable alternative, the Mother Teresa Driving Academy (MTDA) was created out of what CEO Leneka Rhoden saw as a need for students to learn more about the rudiments of driving. MTDA realized the need for more substantive support that was not being offered by existing players in the industry and sought to add value in the field by offering more to clients. The MTDA has revolutionized the way driving schools support students by providing online consultation and road code classes in preparation for written tests.
According to UWIVC Chair Douglas Lindo, “traditionally the Competition has produced brilliant innovative entrepreneurs who have gone on to not only achieve financial success but have created business solutions that will continue to have a positive social impact for years to come.” Pree Labs is another of the UWIVC’s success stories using technology to provide practical solutions in the areas of health, farming, property management and energy efficiency. Notably, PreeLabs, in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic in its early stages in Jamaica, provided over 200 spacers and masks to the health care sector. In addition, with the constant rise in energy costs, PreeLabs CEO Yekini Wallen-Bryan, has developed a new APP (power pree) that seeks to help persons manage their energy usage from anywhere in the world. Wallen-Bryan also developed a technology system that seeks to mitigate the costly issue of praedial larceny, one of the major impediments to the growth of the local agriculture sector.
This year’s UWI Venture Competition will kick-off with a virtual launch on September 29, 2021 followed by a Boot Camp and Mentorship Series culminating with the Finals and Awards Ceremony in January 2022. A new feature, the Leading Edge Accelerator Programme (LEAP), has been added to provide more strategic support and propel the start-ups into real growth. The LEAP will also provide a pipeline of talent that will make an indelible mark on any organization they become a part of.
Major partners for the 2021 staging are the Vincent HoSang Family Foundation, Caribbean Food Delights, Mona School of Business and Management, Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority, JMMB Joan Duncan Foundation and Guardian Life. Other sponsors are the Development Bank of Jamaica, Baymac and Mona Entrepreneurial and Commercialization Centre.