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BAHAMAS — With the official launch of the Kanoo Innovation Hub last night, Caribbean innovators now have direct access to a billion-dollar global network of investors to build, scale and fund their innovative ideas.
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 known for its investment in more than 34 unicorn companies and at least six rhino companies.
The business accelerator has three core programs that provide participants with the tools, techniques, and funding needed to lead and innovate next-generation global solutions.
“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 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 islands.
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 averaging between USD$250,000 and USD$3 million.
“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, Chairman and Co-Founder of Kanoo Pays.
Kanoo is the world’s first licensed payment institution to achieve integration, interoperability, and processing of secure Central Bank Digital Currency (“CBDC”) payments.
Organisations have already lined up to partner with the HUB, including 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.
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.
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.”
By Natario McKenzie- EyeWitness News