As the pandemic reshapes various industries, the need for innovative entrepreneurs with agile skills has never been more critical. The Vincent HoSang Entrepreneurship Programme (VHEP) through the annual UWI Venture Competition aims to prepare the next generation of leaders for an uncertain, rapidly changing world through the adoption of non-traditional business education and practices.
The 2020 staging of the Vincent HoSang University of the West Indies Venture Competition had its virtual launch on Wednesday October 21. The Competition 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.
Since inception, the competition has engaged over 100 students per year from a cross section of faculties to assist with moving their business ideas from mere concepts up the value chain with the aim of becoming commercially viable entities. Over the years, several teams have moved on to represent the University of the West Indies (UWI) at the National Business Model Competition, placing first and third place at the last staging. Of special significance has been the competition’s success in building tangible connections between the academic foundation students receive and connecting with external partners who advise on the harsh realities of owning and operating a business.
As we face an increasingly uncertain, complex future, we must adopt new techniques and build strong diverse entrepreneurial leaders of tomorrow. Application numbers this year are at a record high which is a true testament to the need for student entrepreneurship development. “One of the things that has been heartening is the ever increasing participation from our students around the campus and we expect that this year nothing will be different” stated Executive Director of MSBM, Dr David McBean as he addressed the virtual audience at the launch event.
The current economic situation as a result of the global pandemic, has highlighted the importance of preparing entrepreneurs to face an increasingly uncertain world and has heralded a new model for entrepreneurship. Partnerships and the mentorship of these future leaders are critical and over the years, MSBM has been proudly supported by strong partners who believe in embracing the current reality and preparing young entrepreneurs for the volatile and uncertain future. Major partners for the 2020 staging are the Vincent HoSang Family Foundation, Caribbean Food Delights, Royal Caribbean Bakery, Mona School of Business and Management, Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority and JMMB Joan Duncan Foundation. Other sponsors are the Development Bank of Jamaica, Mona Entrepreneurial and Commercialization Centre and Regus.
As the MSBM and their partners seek to empower the next generation, Mr. Douglas Lindo, Advisor to the VHEP proudly announced that all cash prizes previously announced would increase by JMD$50,000 for this year’s staging. The programme has also seen an increase of approximately 30% in the number of student applications compared to last year, despite the effects of the pandemic on the students. Students will therefore receive 1st place $350,000, 2nd place $250,000 and 3rd place $175,000.
Director General Nari Williams-Singh from the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority gave remarks on behalf of the sponsors and noted that “The programme continues to act as an enabler of our country’s and world’s regeneration, renewal, growth and the entrenchment of new norms especially at this very critical juncture in our history.” A profound statement indeed.
Partners and participants alike have displayed their belief and commitment to ensuring all like-minded individuals band together to assist in our country’s economic growth and development through the Vincent HoSang UWI Venture Competition and the Mona School of Business and Management.