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  • May 15, 2023 10:16 AM | Anonymous

    Meet Latoya Richards Franklin, General Manager of the Caribbean Alternative Investment Association (CARAIA) in Kingston, Jamaica. A native of Kingston, Latoya has also worked as an economist in the highest levels of the Jamaican government, including in the office of the cabinet. In April, Latoya attended our inaugural Beyond the Beach event in Kingston, despite the fact that weekend conferences are not exactly popular in Jamaica. Luckily for us, she liked it. “Beyond the Beach was a remarkable event,” Latoya told us. A conversation she had at the opening reception with our founder, Martin Babinec, “allowed for an understanding of our unified mission to fuel the growth of our regional entrepreneurs, investors and key players in the alternative investment ecosystem.”

    From Left: Ingrid Riley, Latoya Richards Franklin

    We partnered with Jamaican tech expert Ingrid Riley to create Beyond the Beach because we believe that, in order to succeed on a global scale, Caribbean entrepreneurs need more access to early-stage investment capital and connectivity to overseas business networks—particularly business networks in the United States. To this end, we used Beyond the Beach as a way to invite our accomplished attendees to collaborate with us on the Caribbean Seed Fund (CSF). 

    For Latoya, the programming at Beyond the Beach made for “a day of learning, deepened connections, and information sharing.” She came away from the event with insights on best practices in entrepreneurship, start-up ecosystems and investing from speakers like Greg Moran, exited entrepreneur and founder of Evergreen Mountain Equity Partners; Melissa Pegus, Managing Director of Tech Stars Atlanta; Kevin Cadette, founder of Black Angels Atlanta; and Nasir Ali, Partner at StartFast. Latoya was pleasantly surprised to be approached by entrepreneurs and other Jamaicans interested in partnering with CARAIA as well as receiving help from the organization. She was also pleased at the chance to meet Beyond the Beach co-organizer Ingrid Riley, telling us she enjoyed Ingrid’s “passion for her industry backed by the force she carries in bringing the collision of founders and investors across the Caribbean.”

    Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing more reflections and takeaways from Beyond the Beach participants, speakers and organizers in our Bringing it Back to Beyond the Beach series. Stay tuned! 

    Interested in attending our future events? Sign up for our email newsletter here and stay connected.

    We want to keep growing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Jamaica but we need your help. Learn more about Entrepreneurs Across Borders here

     #Entrepreneurship #Beyondthebeach #Jamaica

  • May 11, 2023 2:35 PM | Anonymous
    With the passing of our first ever EAB Event, Beyond the Beach, we are looking forward to future events. Here’s a couple coming up that you will for sure want to keep in the loop about:

    Caribbean Seed Fund Meeting

    As we are still in an exploratory phase for the Caribbean Seed Fund it is imperative that we start to coalesce, a group of like minded individuals who would be willing to setup and help lead an effort like this. Leaders in funds structured like the Caribbean Seed Fund get to learn an additional set of skills that average fund members sometimes lack. They typically also get a slightly higher carry. In the coming weeks the Caribbean Seed Fund will be hosting a meeting for those interested in learning more about how a member managed seed fund works, what roles there are to be filled, and ask any questions they might have. We will have more on our events page when this meeting is put on the calendar.

    Beyond the Beach Fall Event

    We are in the early stages of formulating another incredible event in Jamaica. Our first Beyond the Beach event was in Kingston, by invitation only and was focused on starting the relationships between Jamaican investors and startups and US based investors and connectors who want to collaborate with their Jamaican counter-parts. Our fall event is going to be even better…while we can’t say too much yet, imagine a weekend in Montego Bay where a whole host of highly successful entrepreneurs    from the US were to spend an entire weekend connecting with and mentoring entrepreneurs from across Jamaica and even the breadth of the Caribbean!

    Want to keep up on all of our upcoming events? Make sure you are subscribed to our monthly newsletter!
  • December 12, 2022 7:44 PM | Anonymous

         There is a certain smell that always attacks my senses when I step off of the plane at Norman Manley International Airport. It is hard to describe but it is the combined scent of flowers, honey, humidity, and heat. It is a persistent reminder of the first time I visited this magical place called Jamaica. In December of 2022, I arrived in Kingston with the founder of Entrepreneurs Across Borders (EAB), Martin Babinec. I wasn’t even officially working for EAB, but Martin had invited me along on a five day trip that, in retrospect, was his way of helping me see the potential that lies in the Caribbean.

         Much to my delight, Martin likes to keep a schedule similar to how I plan these types of trips; back to back to back meetings! Those first few meetings revealed something about Jamaica that I was not prepared for. The spirit of entrepreneurship is rampant in the psyche of Jamaicans. When I say rampant, I mean it. Jamaicans have an entrepreneurial ethos unlike any place I have ever been. From cab drivers, to waitresses, to business people, nearly everyone has a side-hustle, or a startup. 
 As we day progressed our meetings revealed another insight: There is a thriving community of people in Jamaica who are working hard to bring about economic prosperity and financial uplift. This was a delight for me as I have worked around the US in undeserved markets. In most of those US based markets, there is a sense of waiting around for change to happen. The people we encountered on that first day were all working to bring opportunity to a broader group of people than those you would typically find an a local start-up ecosystem. From tech entrepreneurs, to charity based organizations, to economists, they were seemingly all playing a part in the development of Jamaica’s overall economy.

        As our first day came to a close I was amazed. We found a new team member that wanted to start a venture fund, we had an offer from our first investor in that fund, and we started talks for a partnership with two existing organizations that would help further the mission of EAB.

    Not bad for the first day!

        The next morning we met with members of the Food For the Poor team to discuss work that we could be doing together. The entirety of our group all hopped in a bus to tour a site on the North Coast where we may be doing some work together in the future (more to come on that). On the ride there a new idea was literally born out of thin air: What if there was a software platform that emerging entrepreneurs could utilize to assess where they are at in their entrepreneurial journey but also to get connected to the resources they need to take next steps. We would later name this project, “EAB Connect.” It would be a joint project with EAB and Food For the Poor.

       The last two days were comprised of attending a tech conference in Montego Bay. There I met startup founders from across the Caribbean. FinTech, Energy, SAAS, Data Analytics…You name the industry, there were people there working on incredibly interesting companies and innovations.

    Here are the my takeaways from my first trip to Jamaica:
    * There is a culture of entrepreneurship in Jamaica that is unlike anywhere I have traveled before.
    * Jamaicans are industrious. They don’t stray away from hard work.
    * Jamaica is ripe to lead the Caribbean in an explosion of startup activity
    * Many have gone before laying this groundwork. From Ingrid Riley, to Tech Beach to First Angels Jamaica, to Development Bank of Jamaica and IDB, the current climate has been years in the making.

       One final thought: I am excited and honored to play a part in connecting emerging entrepreneurs in developing nations to their seasoned counterparts in more developed markets. To quote Martin Babinec, “Jamaica is uniquely suited for the EAB pilot program,” and I have to agree!

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