Gov’t launches accelerator project for 20 local IT firms
When Kay Wilson-Kelly, operations manager at Port Computer Services Limited, a local computer software company which trades as ADVANTUM Limited, realised that she was the only woman among men signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Government for the new Technology Innovation District (TID) Accelerator Project, she was delighted.
In the male-dominated sector, Wilson-Kelly was elated to know that she was chosen to ink the deal on behalf of her company.
“I was taken aback with the applause and sounds. It is a testament that it’s a mixed world, and I’m not feminist, and anyone who wishes to step up to the challenge in tech should step up,” Wilson-Kelly told The Gleaner after signing the MOU at the offices of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) on Tuesday.
“I believe it’s a big step for my organisation to become involved in this mission. We already do work for other Caribbean countries, which include Trinidad, Barbados, and Dominica, so this will definitely widen our scope. I’m excited and I look forward to it,” she said.
Wilson-Kelly has been operations manager since 2017 at ADVANTUM Limited, having been among the women breaking the glass ceiling in the male-dominated information technology sector for over 30 years.
The other companies which signed the MOU on Tuesday were BlueDot, MC Systems (an affiliate of the Jamaica National Group), ResolveIT, and Smart Mobile Solutions (SMS), which were represented by Larren Peart, Dwayne Russell, Almando Cox, and Dane Spencer, respectively.
The TID Accelerator Project will be funded by a five-year loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to promote the growth of Jamaica’s global services sector and to help secure more contracted services for local computer-based solutions from overseas clients.
JAMPRO, the executing agency, will promote the businesses of all companies which sign the MOU for one year.
The project is designed to help build the capacity of local firms and provide access to business opportunities that will grow the revenue of cohort participants.
Participation in the accelerator aspect of the initiative requires no financial investment for those who qualify. All that is needed is commitment and willingness to invest the time required to take firms to the next level by the end of December 2023, when phase one of the project will end.
Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister Aubyn Hill noted that he was proud to see at least one woman in the mix, noting that 15 other companies will get opportunities to sign on to the project in the upcoming months.
He said the initiative was groundbreaking and pleaded with participants to work with JAMPRO in making it a success.
“This Technology Innovation District will be another wall in the building to supply the required workforce. Please stay. Please bring your company. Use what we have for you. Work with JAMPRO. Work with the other agencies in the ministry and make sure that the money that we borrow, at a reasonable rate from the IDB, is properly used,” he said.
Dwayne Russell, general manager at MC Systems, said he was pleased to ink the deal.
“We’re [grateful] for this initiative. The strategy of JAMPRO aligns with our growth strategy. It’s not just a matter of accessing markets, but [also] developing people of Jamaica and community, and that’s what we’re really excited about. …Jamaicans, we’re very creative, very talented and this is another avenue for the talent as a people to be exposed, so they can live the life they want to live as they grow older,” Russell told The Gleaner.
Originally published in The Jamaica Gleaner – Wednesday, March 15, 2023