Jamaica’s startup ecosystem has experienced significant growth over the past year, but continues to face structural problems that prevent it from thriving out of the island.
Still, there are many macroeconomic data indicating that the trend is a positive one. In 2008, Jamaican economy ranked fifth in a global survey on the regulations and requirements needed to start a business. In other words, Jamaica is a good place to be an entrepreneur.
A GOOD COUNTRY TO CREATE A STARTUP
The report created by Reboot Digital Agency with data from World Bank Group also confirms that business opportunities of startups in Jamaica have improved in the last year as well. And the trend will hold throughout 2019.
The Reboot Digital Agency survey analyzed 119 countries and classified them according to a number of criteria, including the number of procedures (i.e. licenses and permits), the time required to obtain them and the costs for a small and a medium-sized limited liability company to start and operate formally.
Jamaica’s fifth place has great merit. It achieved a 97.3 statistical average, which represents a 0.57 increase compared to the previous report. New Zealand holds the top spot with a near perfect score of 99.96, followed by Canada, Hong Kong and Georgia. The rest of the Top 10 includes countries such as Singapore, Australia, Ireland, South Korea and, surprisingly, Kosovo.
The fact that Jamaica is considered one of the best places in the world for entrepreneurs is good news for the startups that are fueling the country’s emerging ecosystem.
KINGSTON, THE NEXT TECHNOLOGICAL HUB
Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, is the main technology and subcontracting center in the Caribbean, and has in recent years developed a number of initiatives to support startups and incubators, which are key to the consolidation of a dynamic business ecosystem.
The capital of Jamaica was recently named “City of the Year” by Nearshore at the 2018 Nexus event in San Francisco. The award strengthened Kingston’s status as the next outsourcing leader in the Caribbean.
Shai Aharony, Managing Director of Reboot Digital Agency, affirms that the data analyzed by his company demonstrate that “we are heading towards a rich and multicultural time for business, which will certainly encourage us to venture into new areas where we can beginning or establish networks. I am certain that we will see a continuous change in the sector as companies reform and push beyond the traditional boundaries.”
That is the key, according to experts: the ability of Jamaican entrepreneurs to be ambitious and think global from the very outset of their startups.
JAMAICAN ENTREPRENEURS, A GOOD EXAMPLE
Kirk-Anthony Hamilton, one of the founders of Tech Beach, the annual conference held in Montego Bay that has become a must for Caribbean startups, recently noted that Jamaica “is a great place to start. In addition, we are very well positioned geographically as an English-speaking territory with easy access to the north, south and center of the Americas, making us an ideal point of connection between east and west. ”
Hamilton is a good example that inspires other Jamaican entrepreneurs. He was acknowledged in 2015 as one of the top 75 emerging global entrepreneurs by President Barack Obama at an event held at the White House.
Hamilton believes that Jamaica is fortunate to have one of the most recognizable names in the globe and “our small island of 3 million people is a cultural powerhouse known the world over.”
This circumstance should be used to create global entrepreneurship projects taking advantage of the popularity of the “Jamaica brand”.
JAMAICA COULD BE THE “REGGAE VALLEY”
Initiatives like the one launched by Total Jamaica can help. This is the Startupper of Year by Total Challenge, which seeks to reward and support the best startups on the island. It is open to Jamaican entrepreneurs under the age of 35 who have been operating a business in any industry for less than two years.
Other prime examples are provided by some young entrepreneurs who, like Dushyant Savadia, founder of the vehicle technology company Amber Connect, travel to the main international forums to promote their startups and, indirectly, Jamaica as well.
In a recent interview with Forbes, he acknowledged that “if we were in the United States, perhaps I could have done a lot more in half the time. But when we leave Jamaica we have to make a great effort to show what we have all over the world by going places ourselves. ”
Like Kirk-Anthony Hamilton, Savadia is convinced that Jamaica can become the center of gravity of the Caribbean technology scene. “My vision has always been, why does everyone have to go to Silicon Valley and make of a country or a place the technology hub for everyone else?”.