Second successful cohort emerges from Development Bank of Jamaica’s IGNITE as Cohort III opens

THE second cohort (Cohort II) of the Development Bank of Jamaica’s (DBJ) flagship product, the Innovation Grant from New Ideas to Entrepreneurship (IGNITE) was recently concluded, with 23 companies benefiting from a total of $77 million in funds and amounts ranging from $2.5 million to $4 million being awarded to each. The businesses impacted varied, encompassing agriculture, food delivery, hair care, medicine, film production and mobile application development.

The DBJ will recognise the programme’s successful applicants at the IGNITE II graduation, which will air on the bank’s social media platforms on Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 6:00 pm. The event, which will feature Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke as guest speaker, will also recognise the winner of the IGNITE Fan Fave Competition, the voting for which took place on the DBJ website until Tuesday, March 2, 2021.

“Cohort II, which ran from 2018 to 2020, performed exceptionally well,” says DBJ’s Managing Director Milverton Reynolds. “We are very proud of the entrepreneurs in this cohort who have used their businesses to generate approximately $700 million in revenue. This was more than three times the revenue generated before they entered the IGNITE programme.”

IGNITE applicants went through an evaluation process that included a pitch session about why they should be selected in addition to a presentation of their business model detailing their sales, marketing strategies, financial projections and their desired investment.

IGNITE provides funding for micro and small enterprises (MSEs) to assist in the development and commercialisation of new products, innovation ventures, new business models and their entrance into new markets. The funds may be used for project preparation, prototype development, marketing and working capital.

Cohort III of IGNITE will be open to interested MSEs immediately after the IGNITE II graduation airs on March 10. Eligible businesses will be able to apply for support via an online application platform on the website www.thinkbigee.com.

“Based on the positive impact of IGNITE we have been able to attract additional funding from our partner, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), through our Boosting Innovation Growth & Entrepreneurship Ecosystem (BIGEE) programme,” says Reynolds. “We have now increased the value of the grants for the seed stage from $2.5 million to $3 million, and for the early stage from $4 million to $7 million. More businesses are expected to benefit as well.”

Any business in operation for less than seven years with revenue under $75 million per annum may apply for the IGNITE grant. Applicants are encouraged to present innovative ventures, bearing in mind that the fund prioritises businesses that address climate change and gender inclusion and make use of emerging technologies.