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Ingrid Riley Leads Launch of Caribbean Seed Fund

Founder of SiliconCaribe Ingrid Riley led the launch of the Caribbean Seed Fund over the weekend at a “by-invitation-only” event: Beyond the Beach.

The event, held April 28-29 in Kingston, was organised by US-based non-profit Entrepreneurs Across Borders (EAB) and brought together investors, entrepreneurs and executives to foster growth and innovation in Jamaica’s tech sector. At the conference, EAB detailed its progress toward creating the early-stage investment seed fund, which will be held in Jamaica and managed by a team of local and US-based angel investors “with established track records of operating and growing similar funds”.

Among the team will be Riley, who was integral in the creation of the fund and has catalysed other high-impact initiatives across the Caribbean.

“We are working toward the repositioning of Jamaica and the Caribbean, beyond the typical perception of being solely a place where you come to get your groove back and your tan on,” explained Riley, adding: “Together, we’re contributing to a Caribbean that will be more known for entrepreneurship, innovation and excellence — beyond the beach.”

The organisers of Beyond the Beach consisted of a panel of speakers including angel investors and entrepreneurs who discussed issues relating to entrepreneurship, technology and investment. Additionally, Food for the Poor shared insights into a developing partnership it has: Entrepreneurs Across Borders, dubbed EAB Connect.

“This new joint venture will include the development of an innovative technology platform designed to connect entrepreneurs in emerging markets with relationships across a broad network of people willing to leverage both connections and capital in support of entrepreneurial growth in underdeveloped communities across the globe,” a release from SiliconCaribe outlined.

While noting that supporting entrepreneurs help to solve some of the challenges facing the region, Entrepreneurs Across Borders Executive Director Chris Cochran said that it was for this region the organisation was providing “access to new forms of venture capital the region has not seen before”.

“We are so excited to gather successful investors from the US and Jamaicans that want to give of their own time to invest in the Caribbean because there is a lot happening right now in the region,” he added.

Entrepreneurs Across Borders was founded by Martin Babinec 15 years ago after a trip to Jamaica during which he found himself needing to “do something”. This led to him taking a drive away from the resort areas and into the surrunding communities.

The organisation works with partners in emerging economies to identify entrepreneurs who are already changing their community and also provides seasoned entrepreneurs with access to its network for emerging entrepreneurs in developing countries.