A distinguished crowd made up of key members of the business fraternity as well as students and academia gathered for the final Presentation and Awards Ceremony of the University of the West Indies Venture Competition held on Friday November 29 at Mona School of Business & Management (MSBM).
Three teams of entrepreneurs emerged as the best of 10 finalists whose business plans underwent several rounds of rigorous assessment of the total of Twenty teams who submitted entries to the competition.
1st Place Winners were Regal Farms Limited a Sea Island Cotton Venture represented by Alicia Brown and Ana-Kay Green (both MBA students at MSBM), 2nd Place Winners were Pro-San Environmental Solutions a Solid waste disposal venture represented by Tova-Malka , Trench Anderson and Randy Hayle (MBA students at UWI Western Jamaica Campus), while 3rd Place Winners were MicroDiagnostic Solutions a medical technology venture represented Oniel Grant and Salomie Lyle-Scott ( MSBM students in Computer Based Management Information Systems). Finalists presented to a panel of potential investors and judges who included: Dennis Chung - CEO of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), Anthony Lawrence - Global Brand Manager- Grace Foods Limited, Phillip Bernard- General Manager, JN Small Business Loans, Brian Goldson - non-executive chairman of the board at Access Financial Services Limited, and Colin Webster Business Coach at Mona Business Support Services.
Kim Mair, CEO of main sponsor Joan Duncan Foundation noted “We are very excited to have been a part of such an innovative and game changing competition, as the Foundation believes Jamaicans need to tap into their full potential for greatness, and have a positive impact not only on their own lives but to also enhance the lives of the community.” Other sponsors included Scotiabank’s Small Business Banking Division, UHY Dawgen, and Mona Business Support Services.
The competition which is in its 11th staging, is a collaborative initiative between the academic community and the private sector, where MSBM facilitated by the Vincent Hosang Entrepreneurship Programme gives young business persons the opportunity to benefit from the expertise of corporate mentors in creating a viable business plan framework. This year’s mentors included: Dr.Kirk Abbott of New Leaf Power, Omar Spence of Scotiabank, Winston Delgado of Jamaica National, Anthony Chance of LASCO, Conroy Rose of Victoria Mutual Building Society as well as Kerry-Ann Stimpson and Roy Reid both of Jamaica Money Market Brokers.
Ana Kaye Green, member of the first place winning Regal Farm Estates remarked, “The competition really allowed us to narrow down the important elements that will make our business work. Our mentor put forward the critical questions an investor would ask an entrepreneur and we were able to learn from that. The UWIVC process helped to give us the foundation we need to carry out our plans in the real world.” Green also noted that the exposure her business gained through the competition was invaluable.
Last year’s winning team ‘Near Earth Delights’, comprised of MBA students of the Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM) impressed judges with their pitch for “Giggles”: baby food made from high nutrition Jamaican produce and went on to represent the UWI in the Opportunity Funding Corporation Innovation & Entrepreneurship (OFCIE) competition held annually in Atlanta, Georgia USA where they emerged overall winners among 25 institutions. The UWI delegation was the only non-US based team competing against historically black schools including Howard University and Tuskeegee University.