L-R: Jayanta Mitra, Professor of Business Enterprise and Innovation and Director of the International Centre for Entrepreneurship Research at Essex Business School, University of Essex; Miguel Sierra, CEO and Managing Director–Caribbean of Pan-American Life; Judith Mark, Consultant for CBES and Founder/Owner of CME Consulting Limited; Dr Dave Seerattan, Research Fellow at the Caribbean Centre for Money and Finance.
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad -- A wide cross-section of regional executives from private and public sector organisations participated in a venture capital financing seminar hosted by the University of the West Indies, Caribbean Centre for Money and Finance (CCMF) in Port-of-Spain. Dynamic discussions sparked by a tight programme of sessions examined the relevance of venture capital financing to regional growth.
Issues were led by regional and international experts, including Professor Jay Mitra, director, International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Research at Essex Business School, UK. Participants discussed the development of the ecosystem for the venture capital industry to fulfill economic and social roles, weaknesses in the existing financial market legislation and structure, the role of the state and the need for financial technical skills to provide for the creation of suitable financial instruments.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Finance, Senator Larry Howai, made the point at the opening that “increasingly, competitive advantage is being derived less from natural resources or cheap labour, and more from knowledge and technical innovations. It is vitally necessary therefore, that we transform the economy’s structure to seek new growth opportunities”.
He continued, “In short, we must begin to build knowledge-based economies.”
The minister applauded the CCMF for bringing attention to the subject, given the role of venture capital in creating new growth.
Jwala Rambarran, governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, also reiterated the timeliness of the seminar’s theme. Rambarran noted that the seminar was taking place against the backdrop of a global environment that is likely to be less favourable than in the recent past.
He cautioned against the use of inappropriate models, reminding that “many governments including ours in Trinidad and Tobago have attempted to implement policies to encourage venture capital investment but, unfortunately, these efforts have either been misguided or failed to deliver the anticipated results”.
The event was supported by a mix of players in the financial services sector, an indication that financial institutions are recognising the significance of pursuing new possibilities and of collaboration in efforts at capital market development.
Pan-American Life Insurance Company of Trinidad and Tobago (PALIG) CEO, Miguel Sierra, agreed that the day’s discussions were an important step in addressing some of the challenges faced by the regional financial sector.
“There is no question that there are important opportunities for growth in the Caribbean,” Sierra said. “The discussions we had today, with so many of the sector’s stakeholders involved, were crucial to creating the environment that will allow the region to take full advantage of its potential.”
Participants expressed a deep interest in pursuing the matter forward and have committed to defining a process that will engage multiple stakeholders in crafting an effective regional venture capital model.