About the Authors: Connie Tzioumis serves as Senior Adviser with the U.S. Secretary of State's Global Partnerships Initiative, and Romi Bhatia serves as a Program Analyst at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
In Kingston, Jamaica on February 25-26, 12 finalists of the inaugural Caribbean IdEA Marketplace (CIM) showcased innovative business plans to policymakers, business leaders, investors and media and competed for $400,000 in grant funding. During the two-day event, entrepreneurs had the chance to participate in high-level policy roundtables, learning sessions, and one-on-one mentoring meetings.
The event culminated in an awards ceremony, during which the four winners of the CIM competition were announced: Mache. A, a mobile agricultural platform that aims to improve Haiti's agricultural sector; Genius Jack & his Tropical Friends, a Barbados-based company animation firm; Plympton Farms, a commercial produce farm in Guyana; and a centralized specialist ISO-tank container cleaning facility located at the Kingston port.
Winners will each receive $100,000 in grant funding from Compete Caribbean and will benefit from on-going business development assistance and support from Scotiabank, Digicel, and the World Bank's infoDev group.
Finalists were chosen from over 160 applications representing countries from across the region: Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The Caribbean region has one of the most extensive diaspora networks worldwide. Ten percent of U.S. first-and second-generation immigrants have links to the Caribbean. CIM seeks to harness the power of this diaspora group to promote opportunities for entrepreneurs through partnerships.
CIM marks the first event of its kind for entrepreneurs and members of the diaspora from the Caribbean region. The marketplace and competition was supported by the International diaspora Engagement Alliance (IdEA), Compete Caribbean, the InterAmerican Development Bank, the UK Department for International Development, the Canadian International Development Agency, Scotiabank, Digicel, infoDev, and the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
IdEA was launched by the Department of State and USAID in close collaboration with public and private actors to promote and support collaboration to strengthen diplomacy and development outcomes and support entrepreneurship, volunteerism, philanthropy, diplomacy, and social innovation in countries and regions of heritage. Through challenges and marketplaces such as CIM, IdEA is helping to promote collaboration and deepen partnerships with diaspora communities around the globe.