Entrepreneurs Across Borders closed out 2023 another step closer to our goal of helping to launch a member-managed seed capital fund based in Jamaica. In December, our founder Martin Babinec and our Executive Director Chris Cochran met with Nasir Ali, who is something of an expert when it comes to cultivating startup ecosystems.
In addition to founding Upstate New York’s first angel investment fund in 2007, Nasir co-founded StartFast Venture Accelerator with Chuck Stormon in 2011. The success of the accelerator led to the creation of StartFast Fund II, which invests in diverse B2B SaaS founders who are located outside major VC hubs. Together with Martin, Nasir co-founded the non-profit Upstate Venture Connect, which supports nearly 700 high-growth businesses in Upstate New York through personalized introductions and hosting invite-only gatherings.
Nasir’s experience assisting entrepreneurs outside major tech hubs is perfect for helping EAB and our partnerslaunch the Caribbean Seed Fund in Jamaica, a country where there is a relatively small investor class and many entrepreneurs do not have access to capital. During the December meeting, Nasir discussed the importance of projecting the Caribbean Seed Fund’s expenses as well as perfecting the format for events, which will include pitches as well as time for Q&A with a panel of distinguished finance professionals. Nasir stressed the importance of finding “magnetic” participants for future Caribbean Seed Fund events, similar to the profile of the participants from our first Beyond the Beach conference in April 2023.
With 1 million to 1.5 million dollars in assets under management, the Caribbean Seed Fund will be on the smaller side compared to seed capital funds in the United States. Because the middle class in Jamaica is not as large as in a developed country, a smaller portion of the population is able to invest in startups. Consequently, Jamaican investors have to be willing to take big risks on illiquid investments in a country that is not always startup-friendly. Bringing these determined investors together makes it possible for everyone to win. We are excited to see our friends in Jamaica move towards creating a new investor class with the Caribbean Seed Fund.
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