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25/07/2019 News

Young entrepreneurs to vie for over $3m in Total startup challenge

Total Jamaica has launched a Startupper of Year by Total Challenge, which seeks to reward and support the best startups on the island.

The 2018-2019 Startupper of the Year by Total Challenge is open to Jamaican entrepreneurs - no older than 35 years old, who are operating a business in any sector for less than two years.

Plans were announced on Friday at the Courtyard Marriot Hotel in Kingston.

The three main winners will receive cash prizes valued at € 12,500 ($1.93 million); €7,500 ($1.1 million) and €5,000 ($775,000) as well as six months of business mentorship from the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC).

Total Jamaica Managing Director Chris Okonmah is urging entrepreneurs from across the island to apply.

“This is not a Kingston, Jamaica initiative, we expect to get entries from Westmoreland and St Thomas – all over,” he said. “The business must be innovative, no copy and paste.”

Okonmah also stressed that the winners will be mentored and guided by business incubators, and the cash prize will be disbursed over time.

“We will mentor them, incubate them, make sure that they succeed, because you may have a good idea, but if you are not good at checking your finances your business might fail,” Okonmah said.

Keynote speaker at the launch, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF), Audley Shaw commended the French energy company for the initiative, which he said will help to create a future cadre of entrepreneurs.

“Total Jamaica joins the ranks of many other local players that have created a space for our young entrepreneurs to launch off. Initiatives such as these create an impact more than we can quantify,” Minister Shaw said.

Minister Shaw also reiterated the government’s commitment to prioritising and enabling business environment for entrepreneurship and startups.

Among the government’s initiative in this regard, is the creation of a new division within MICAF to focus on MSME entrepreneurship related activities and a revised and MSME and Entrepreneurship Policy.

Shaw also indicated that he is pushing for more young people to look to farming as a business and has drafted a youth in agriculture policy and implementation plan.

The youth in agriculture policy will be implemented over 10 years at a cost of $400 million and will help to set the platform for youth to invest in agriculture and fisheries across the entire value chain, according to Shaw.

“It is my vision to have a vibrant, re-energised agriculture sector,” he said.

Entries for the Startupper Challenge opens on Tuesday, October 9. Businesses and projects will be assessed on innovation, social and community impact as well as feasibility and development potential. Further information on the challenge is available via

In a bid to support women entrepreneurs, a panel of Total experts, local CEOs and business incubator leaders will also designate a top female entrepreneur and select the best startup operating in the energy sector.