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TECH ROUND UP

Jamaican Minister of Finance Promotes Crowdfunding

While attending a United Nations Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last week, Jamaican Min. of Finance Dr. Peter Phillips stated that crowdfunding could be a 

"genuinely exciting way of democratising finance", after being heralded as a potential source of financing for developing countries by experts and policy makers.

Crowdfunding is a method by which ordinary citizens invest money in businesses, social projects or charitable causes globally through electronic payments. The initiative has enabled many individuals and businesses across the globe to raise sizeable sums of money from strangers to get a project or business moving.

One of the earliest regional initiatives was introduced by the Jamaica National Small Business Loans Limited in 2013, under the global portal isupportjamaica.com. The platform seeks to raise funds for local start-up projects and foundations.

Last year, the total amount of financing raised through crowdfunding amounted to US$16 billion and is projected to reach $34 billion by the end of the year. By 2020, the World Bank estimates that developing countries alone will raise US$90 billion from the initiative.

"Access to affordable financing is of central importance, especially if we are to satisfy the development goals which are the heart of this conference. There is the prospect of crowdfunding being a viable solution for helping Jamaica, and other countries, channel financing to small and medium enterprises to grow private sector investment," the minister said.

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Mobile Apps Helping Commuters in Barbados

A number of innovative Bajan companies are rolling out mobile apps to help Bajans with their commute and other transportation needs.

One such company Caribbean Transit Solutions (CTS), have developed BeepBus and BeepCab, the former is an application that gives commuters information on routes and other public passenger bus data.  Where as the BeepCab app allows users to book/request taxi journeys on their mobile device, which will be satisfied by the nearest available taxi driver.

The company’s co-founders Khalil Bryan and Veronica Millington, explained “We evolved after having a meeting with some business angels under the Trident Angel initiative of the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation and they advised us to expand the transportation idea.”

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Regional Education Ministers Focus on Transforming Education

Guyana was the venue for the two day meeting of the CARICOM Council for Human & Social Development.

St Kitts and Nevis Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Shawn Richards, highlighted the inadequacy of incremental changes to the system to meet the needs of “radically changed” students in the digital age.

“The imperative therefore, is for systemic reform in areas such as teacher preparation and continued professional development in leadership training and several other technical areas,” he said.

The theme of the two-day meeting, “Safeguarding our Region’s Future: Reshaping Education for the 21st century, presented recommendations to the CARICOM Commission on Human Resource Development 2030 Strategy.

Assistant secretary-general, human and social development at the CARICOM Secretariat, Dr Douglas Slater said the meeting “provided an opportunity to exchange ideas and recommend policy directions for education at all levels and in particular, for achieving the levels of innovation required for competitiveness”.

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