Separated by over 10,000 km and the entire Atlantic Ocean, it may seem that Jamaica and Jordan have little in common apart from their initial letter. However, three young Jamaican companies got a big boost today following a significant investment by Jordanian enterprise Oasis 500.
It is the first major investment by a foreign company in new mobile start-up companies linking the region’s youth with digital entrepreneurs from the Arab world.
For the CEO of Oasis 500 Youssef Hamidaddin supporting Start Up Jamaica has been a strategic choice to consolidate similar markets, which face similar problems.
"We are looking forward to a lot of collaboration where we can bring these two very similar markets between the Caribbean and Jamaica, between Jordan, the Middle East, and North Africa, between Latin America and the Arab World. I think there is a lot of potential that we can achieve together,” said Youssef Hamidaddin.
Oasis500 is a leading investment company based in Jordan that provides seed and early stage funding, as well as entrepreneurship training, mentorship and business incubation for technology ventures.
The future is digital
Decades of below average growth has hit the youngest hard – about 30 percent of youth are unemployed in Jamaica, migration has been considered by Caribbean youth to be the only option to a long-term career.
However, such figures belie a potential that could kickstart growth – a creative passion and talent for digital technology. Following two highly successful talent showcases, Jamaica is taking the first steps to becoming an international hub for digital innovation, the Silicon Valley of the Caribbean.
The process starts with StartUp Jamaica – an initiative supported by the World Bank and designed to help young, savvy, digital entrepreneurs find investors such as Oasis 500 and tap into the global demand for mobile applications. It’s a key element in the government’s strategy to turn the potential of Jamaica’s youth into a real employment opportunity for them and future generations.
“This is all about developing the appropriate ecosystem for start-ups to grow, and specifically targeting Jamaican youth, the future of our country,” says Julian Robinson, Jamaica’s State Minister for Science, Technology, Energy and Mining.
As part of its “Vision 2030 Jamaica” plan, the government is looking at the information and communication technology (ICT) sector as playing a central role in the transformation of the country over the next two decades, moving Jamaica from being a consumer to also become a producer of digital platforms and content.