WASHINGTON, D.C.: As a result of the approval of a US$20 million loan last week for a youth employment in digital and animation industries project by the World Bank’s board of directors, over 15,000 young Jamaicans will benefit from training, digital work opportunities and seed investments to boost the digital and animation industries in the Caribbean nation.
The youth employment in digital and animation industries project will provide training and coaching to enhance entrepreneurial skills and employability; create approximately 150 start-up companies in Jamaica; establish “Start-up Jamaica”, a physical hub for tech entrepreneurs and mobilize up to US$7 million seed funding for tech entrepreneur start-ups.
“This project facilitates Jamaica’s linkage into one of the fastest growing sectors in the global economy,” said Jamaica’s minister of state for science, technology, energy and mining, Julian Robinson. “It is our strongest national thrust to date to mobilize the considerable creative and entrepreneurial talent among our youth towards earning our way to a brighter future.”
Global animation is a growing industry currently valued around US$220 billion per year. International companies are increasingly looking at Jamaica as a country of choice for outsourcing animation production. As part of its “Vision 2030 Jamaica” plan, the government is looking at the information and communication technology (ICT) sector as playing a central role in the transformation of the country over the next two decades, moving Jamaica from being a consumer to also becoming a producer of digital platforms and content.
“Youth unemployment in Jamaica is about 30 per cent,” said Sophie Sirtaine, World Bank country director for the Caribbean. “This initiative spearheaded by the government is about providing opportunities for new talents to get new skills, find jobs or become entrepreneurs.
For the technology sector to become an engine for growth and employment, it requires the right environment with training opportunities and the right partnership between governments, private sector and young people.”
The project builds on the successful pilots, Digital Jam 2.0, 3.0 and KingstOOn, which helped create new start-ups and position the Caribbean as a potential hub for the tech industry, linking the region’s youth with digital entrepreneurs, angel investors and centers of excellence in the Silicon Valley and across Latin America.