Caribbean entrepreneurs are called to apply for 200 competitive spots in a new business accelerator for founders, developers and corporate innovators. Regional entrepreneurs will have direct access to a billion-dollar global network of investors with the official launch of the Kanoo Innovation Hub on Tuesday night in The Bahamas.
“We are dedicated to the task of making innovation a cultural transformation in the Caribbean. Global ideas require access to global investors, global clients and global networks. The Kanoo Innovation Hub is a program designed specifically for us, and we are proud to give Caribbean innovators access,” said Co-Founder Davinia Bain.
Bain detailed that innovators will have the opportunity to build, scale and fund their ideas with the guidance of the Hub and its partners. The Kanoo Innovation Hub is a joint venture between leading Caribbean fintech companies Crypto Isle and Kanoo Pays in partnership with Draper University, a top Silicon Valley venture capital network. The business accelerator has three core programmes that provide participants with tools, techniques, and funding to lead and innovate next-generation global solutions.
The Hub’s co-founder Nicholas Rees said the first stage of the process is to find 200 innovators with the best ideas to enroll in the Start-Up Innovation Program. Applications are open until November 15. Each stage of the progressive process will become more competitive, culminating with 10 Caribbean entrepreneurs having guaranteed spots at the highly competitive Draper University immersion experience in Silicon Valley. There, they will pitch to a global network of investors, and gain access to seed capital between USD$250,000 and USD$3 million.
Simplified Lending, a Bahamian financial institution known for its business-friendly lending, is one of the first corporate participants to sign up. Corporate innovators can invest in select employees to incubate innovation externally without the weight drawbacks of corporate inertia.
“Our goal is to find innovative Caribbean founders, developers and corporations and set them up for success. We want to provide funding and mentorship throughout their business evolution, from seed round to exit,” said Rees.
Experienced Business Builders The Hub will bring together seasoned investors including Draper University, which is known for its investment in more than 34 unicorn companies and at least six rhino companies.
Asra Nadeem, Draper University CEO said: “We at Draper University recognise the immense potential of Caribbean innovators. Silicon Valley is the main contender for technology and blockchain innovation. We look forward to engaging founders, developers and corporate innovators from across the region.”
The partners in the joint venture also have a wealth of experience in building entrepreneurial ecosystems and startups. Bain recently retired from her post as the inaugural executive director of the Access Accelerator Small Business Development Center in The Bahamas. She was responsible for overseeing the disbursement of more than BSD$70 million to 1,900 clients across 40 industries and 15 Bahamian islands. Rees serves as chairman and co-founder of Kanoo Pays, the world’s first licensed payment institution to achieve integration, interoperability and processing of secure Central Bank Digital Currency (“CBDC”) payments.
Individuals have until November 15 to apply to be in the Hub whose other partners include WrkFlws, a leading, blockchain-based business automation platform. The top candidate from the Startup Innovation Program will receive $5,000 in free consulting from the CEO of WrkFlws.