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Therese Turner-Jones, general manager of the Country Department Caribbean Group, Inter-American Development Bank with Learie Hercules, vice-president of data and analytics, Lightspeed Technologies (left); Dr Peter Adriens, director, Center for Infratech Finance, University of Michigan; Delroy McLean, senior director, C&W Business; and Charles E Robinson, global consulting director, Avaya; on stage at Tech Beach Retreat (Photo: TechBeach Retreat)

IDB Lab, TechBeach Retreat ink deal to support 200 C’bean tech start-ups

Therese Turner-Jones, general manager of the Country Department Caribbean Group, Inter-American Development Bank with Learie Hercules, vice-president of data and analytics, Lightspeed Technologies (left); Dr Peter Adriens, director, Center for Infratech Finance, University of Michigan; Delroy McLean, senior director, C&W Business; and Charles E Robinson, global consulting director, Avaya; on stage at Tech Beach Retreat (Photo: TechBeach Retreat)

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Lab has entered into a technical cooperation agreement with TechBeach Retreat that will see the latter offering accelerator services to 200 Caribbean “tech-driven” businesses over a three-year period.

(File photo)

On Friday, IDB Lab said in a press release that the aim of the agreement is to assist struggling companies to survive the pandemic as they identify ways of scaling their operations. To this end, TechBeach Retreat will provide mentorship, technology services, networks, and connections to enterprise opportunities and investors.

“To further support the technology ecosystem, the initiative will connect 1,000 regional technology entrepreneurs to a global community of technology experts and train more than 80 persons from the Caribbean corporate community to undertake corporate innovation programme,” the release added.

The IDB noted, too, that it will select tech businesses from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and The Bahamas to participate in the three-year programme.

High-growth potential

Therese Turner-Jones, IDB Jamaica country representative and general manager for the Caribbean Country Group, has hailed the initiative as a timely one given the challenges that entrepreneurs in the Caribbean face when starting and operating businesses, especially those in technology.

Therese Turner-Jones, general manager, Caribbean Country Department — Inter-American Development Bank (Photo: Caribbean Camera)

While she acknowledged barriers to entry, Turner-Jones also recognised the technology industry as a potentially high-growth sector in the Caribbean.

“While many countries have attempted to bridge the digital gap, existing policies, workforce and infrastructure in the region remain deficient. The regional private sector is at a competitive disadvantage as they continue to operate in a relatively low-tech, high-cost environment, which is constraining growth potential and economic prosperity. Cutting-edge technology will be essential to navigating the new normal and the delivery of products and services. It will also make businesses more efficient, cost-effective, productive and profitable,” Turner-Jones stated.

Tech evolution through connection

For co-founder of TechBeach Retreat Kirk-Anthony Hamilton, this agreement with IDB Lab represents an “evolution in our relationship”, since his company has been working with the organisation over the last two years.

Co-founder of TechBeach Retreat Kirk-Anthony Hamilton
(File photo)

“Tech entrepreneurs in the region often struggle because they lack access to resources to help them succeed. They’re competing against entrepreneurs who operate within layered ecosystems that facilitate growth at varying levels through knowledge exchange, funding, policy, mentorship and partnerships, ” Hamilton said.

“We are working with global partners to build an accelerator programme alongside our conferences to offer regional entrepreneurs a more level playing field and access to the tools, services, and people they require to thrive,” he continued. 

With this in mind, Hamilton underscored that the ethos that continues to drive the TechBeach Retreat Brand is “connecting the best in tech in the world with the best in the Caribbean”.

As a full-service tech ecosystem, TechBeach Retreat connects people and organisations that aim to solve problems with transformation through technology. In addition, it facilitates skill training, provides resources and opportunities for transformation, partnerships and investments through its TBR Summits, TBR Lab, TBR Intelligence and Venture Island.

‘Access to world-class technology’

Also commenting on the partnership, Terry-Ann Segree, senior private finance operations specialist at IDB Lab, noted, “This partnership with TechBeach Retreat is another great opportunity to provide regional technology entrepreneurs with access to a world-class technology acceleration programme, as well as benefit from insights from leading international technology professionals and industry leaders.”

Terry-Ann Segree, senior private finance operations specialist, IDB Lab
(Photo: Twitter @NCB Jamaica)

While highlighting that the Caribbean has experienced modest success in creating home-grown tech companies, she, however, expressed optimism that region’s tech entrepreneurs will develop innovative solutions and will demonstrate their ability to deliver to large corporate clients.