the mif blog

Stories of inspiring entrepreneurs and organizations, discussion and commentary of new trends in private sector development, and the latest events and publications.

The MIF in Jamaica: Small businesses, small country, small projects... large impact

By Winsome Leslie

Three years ago, I and my MIF colleagues who focus on Jamaica made a deliberate decision to target access to finance for Jamaican SMEs--a critical area of need in the country, and one in which we could make a difference. Today, the MIF portfolio in Jamaica includes a group of mutually reinforcing projects that offer support to small and medium firms through a range of models. I recently attended the 2015 Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) Conference in Kingston, which got me reflecting on the progress we’ve made with this targeted approach. 

Get Up, Start Up: Local and global partners help launch young entrepreneurs in Jamaica

By Winsome Leslie


Recently, I spent a few hours in a conference room with 60 young tech entrepreneurs in downtown Kingston.  Their excitement was palpable.  This was the final day of the Start-Up Jamaica boot camp, led by coaches from Oasis500, a Jordanian company that provides entrepreneurship training, business incubation, mentoring, and seed funding to help turn new tech ideas into startups.  Oasis500 is one of the key partners supporting Start-Up Jamaica, the first Jamaican accelerator focusing on technology.  This initiative is a unique public-private sector partnership, bringing together the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, the Jamaica National Building Society, LIME Jamaica (formerly Cable and Wireless), Oasis500, the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica, and Caribbean Export Development Agency. Start-Up Jamaica is an important step in providing support to fledgling companies, but it is also viewed by the partners as much more: a key part of positioning the country to be an entrepreneurship and innovation hub in the Caribbean.

From Haiti to Whole Foods

By Winsome Leslie

This photo story shows how the Mangos being sold at Whole Foods in the US are being harvested and processed by Haitian farmers. Join us on this trip: 

Plantain chips in Barbados: the winners of a Caribbean Microentrepreneurship Award

By Winsome Leslie

The trip to Barbados was Javier Basto’s first time traveling outside of Belize. In his luggage, he had two big boxes filled with bags of plantain chips and churros.

Javier Basto, owner of Basto & Sons Plantain Chips, crossed the Caribbean Sea to Bridgetown to receive the award for Excellence in Microentrepreneurship, one of two prizes for the first Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards for the Caribbean. Marcus James, founder and owner of Access Financial Services in Jamaica was presented with the award for Excellence in Microfinance. 

By Ryan Tang

Small Islands, Big Impact: Socially-Motivated Investing in the Caribbean Gets Underway

By Winsome Leslie

The MIF is counting down to Foromic 2012. Foromic has long been the leading conference on microfinance and microenterprise in Latin America and the Caribbean, but in recent years its focus has broadened and now includes small and medium enterprise finance, financial products for poor and unbanked populations, and impact investment. This year, Foromic has a special island flavour, as it is being held for the first time in an English-speaking Caribbean country, Barbados. We see this as an excellent opportunity to showcase our work in the Caribbean - both in supporting access to finance in general, and specifically our initiatives to promote impact investing in the region.