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  • Writer's pictureMelarka Williams

Implementing Policies to Facilitate Digital Innovation to Stimulate Economic Growth

Ingenuity Technologies and the Prime Minister of Jamaica
The Most Honourable Andrew Holness presenting CEO Melarka Williams with the DBJ IGNITE Top Performer award

On Friday, April 27, I was present for the opening and closing ceremony of the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) IGNITE program. Ingenuity was a recipient of funding, which was used to develop our proprietary mobile data collection and communications solution ingenuityforms (iforms). iforms makes it easier for businesses to collect, analyse, and utilise data. A product built by Jamaicans to be used all over the world.

Simultaneously, I was honoured to be presented the DBJ’s Top Performer award by The Most Honourable Andrew Holness.

During his speech he made several points to which I agreed wholeheartedly. I also, applaud the government’s decision to revise its approach to achieving economic growth, by implementing policies that will facilitate this.

One such policy that the government should seriously consider implementing is one that facilitates Digital Innovation for Jamaicans. This means making it easier for entrepreneurs to access funding to develop new technologies and start tech companies. It also means creating an educational system that encourages our youth to do the same, rather than relying on much of the same professions that no longer presents much opportunities for our youth.

Jamaica has Software Engineers and Developers leaving university that have the potential to be the best in the world. Yet, there lacks a supporting infrastructure from a governmental level to make it attractive for more youth to venture into this field, or for more entrepreneurs to start tech businesses in Jamaica.

Our vision at Ingenuity is to make the Caribbean creators of technology and not mere consumers of technology. What this means is we want to create the culture and mindset of Jamaicans creating the next iforms or Facebook, and have the world using technology created by us.

Everything we do is an extension of this vision because we believe Digital Innovation is one of the most effective and strategic ways to stimulate economic growth in Jamaica. This growth is achieved by:

  1. Transforming businesses to be more technologically advanced thus allowing Jamaican businesses to be more competitive in the global markets

  2. Building the nation by providing new job markets, industries, and opportunities through new technology for talented youth leaving university

  3. Attracting outside investors to Jamaica as they see us as a forward-thinking and innovative market to do business

  4. Create the technologies that will enhance existing industries, potentially increasing our export and reducing import

Transformation of industries through Digital Innovation could be valued up to US$100 Trillion by 2025 according to a 2016 report by the World Economic Forum. Also, Gartner suggests total overall spending in technology was said to reach US$3.5 Trillion in 2017. This indicates a major opportunity for Jamaica to capitalize on by having more tech Startups and tech MSME’s. As the Prime Minister states these are the sectors that are pivotal to driving higher levels of economic growth.

Furthermore, technology presents a unique opportunity to collaborate and create linkages with other industries. As the world changes and technology continues to disrupt industries, Jamaica must be able to adjust and redefine how it does business and trade in order to stay relevant to the rest of the world. The only way this can be made possible is by creating the societal and educational environment that creates the catalyst to make it happen.

We should not be afraid of the rapid technological changes, but rather embrace them by positioning ourselves to benefit from them. Just as the US capitalized on the Industrial Revolution that transformed them from a divided colonized land into one of the richest global super-powers.

Jamaica can do the same with Digital Innovation.

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