Fresh from its official launch last weekend in Kingston, the Caribbean Alternative Investment Association (CARAIA) is aiming to build a solid investor eco-system for the Caribbean and Central American region.
The non-profit organisation, which was incorporated in Jamaica in July 2019 as a regional association, will be promoting the expansion of private equity, venture capital, real estate, private capital, mezzanine financing and other alternative investment instruments.
CARAIA is charged with the responsibility of promoting best practices and increasing the visibility of the Caribbean on global investment maps and mobilizing greater levels of long-term funding. As part of its role, CARAIA will be supporting entrepreneurship and infrastructure development, while accelerating economic growth.
“..initially over the short period the association will be Jamaica focused but in the medium to long term we have our eyes set on the Caribbean and Central America.”– Audrey Richards, Project Coordinator for the Jamaica Venture Capital Programme,
The impetus to establish the association arose out of the need identified by fund managers, corporate and institutional investors to continue to grow and develop domestic markets with some level of support from government sources and international development finance institutions.
Starting with Jamaica
CARAIA, which is based in Jamaica will start with establishing a Private Equity Venture Capital industry in the island and extend that work to the wider Caribbean and Central America.
Speaking at the official launch Audrey Richards, Project Coordinator for the Jamaica Venture Capital Programme, under whose portfolio the association resides disclosed that “initially over the short period the association will be Jamaica focussed but in the medium to long term we have our eyes set on the Caribbean and Central America. The Caribbean and Central American region share a number of similarities in the eyes of investors, and it is our intention that CARAIA will be the vehicle that will speak to the collective interests, thereby promoting best practices and attracting investments and capital to the region.”
It is recognised that the region has some 44 million people among 31 countries. Many of these countries have an embryonic private equity, private credit, venture capital and other alternative investment markets, which are either not supported by an regional or international body, or when represented do not receive the sustained focus required to nurture and develop their private capital markets.
Full membership of CARAIA is comprised of corporate, institutional investors and fund managers, while associate membership is open to professional accountants and attorneys, business enablers, academic institutions, angel investor networks and umbrella groups.
The launch of the association took place last Friday at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel at which the founding members, which happens to be some of the most liquid companies in Jamaica, were presented to the public. They are JMMB Group, NCB Capital Market, Scotia Investments Jamaica, Proven Investments, Mayberry Investments, Sagicor Investments, Sygnus Capital, Pan Jam Investments, Portland Private Equity and Epply Limited.
The list is completed by ICD Group Holdings, JN Fund Managers, MPC Renewable Energies, the ATL Pension Fund, SEAF Caribbean Management and Development Bank of Jamaica.
An Advisory Board for CARAIA is already in place under the chairmanship of CEO of Proven Investments, Christopher Williams. The other members are CEO of ICD Group Holdings, Joseph M. Matalon; Managing Director of Eppley, Nicholas Scott; Chief Investment Officer of Sygnus Capital, Jason Morris; Keith Collister, Executive Chairman of ATL Pension Fund; CEO of NCB Capital Market, Steven Gooden and Brian Frazer, Vice President of Asset Management at Scotia Investments.
CARAIA is one of the deliverables under a Technical Corporation Agreement signed in 2016 with the Inter-American Development Bank for the establishment of a Private Equity-Venture Capital Industry in Jamaica. This is to be done through the establishment of a Private Equity and Venture Capital Association.
CARAIA’s establishment was facilitated by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) through its Jamaica Venture Capital Programme.
For his part DBJ Managing Director, Milverton Reynolds, who spoke at the launch emphasised, “the establishment of CARAIA is appropriate when set against the background of the tremendous growth of Jamaica’s capital market over the past 12-18 months. From the outset, we at the DBJ would like to categorically stress that the association is private sector led; we are only the convenor and part of the membership base.”