When you think of words associated with Jamaica you may immediately think of sun, reggae, and jerk chicken, but you’re missing something pivotal: business.
The island is “open for business” and investment as expressed by veteran Jamaican business owners William Mahfood, president of The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica and chairman of WISYNCO Group, and Glenford Christian, chairman and CEO of Cari-Med Limited and Kirk Distrubutors Limited, during the annual Jamaica National Building Society’s Outlook for the Future panel.
Featuring opening remarks from Lowell Hawthorne, president and CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery and Grill, and Herman LaMont, consul general to New York for Jamaica, the distinguished group of leaders urged the audience that there is no time like the present to return home with their own entrepreneurial pursuits.
The concept of Jamaica as a brand was stressed throughout the various presentations and remarks, stressing the participants to create business plans rooted at home that can then cross the waters into American markets.
“The focus should be what can be done in Jamaica and expanded to the United States. Think globally, think export, think brand Jamaica,” Hawthorne said.
The event was structured to inspire and mobilize all in attendance that the challenge of starting a business in Jamaica is worth it. Both Mahfood and Christian discussed their trials and triumphs in starting their respective businesses.
Christian spoke of starting with three employees 30 years ago to now overseeing 800 persons and 150 contractors.
“Jamaica is open for business. I know your hearts are close to home,” Christian said.
Listing various sectors that are growing in Jamaica, both Christian and Mahfood mentioned the BPO sector, technology and agriculture.
Both presenters offered key advice to any starting entrepreneur, stressing the importance of working with the right people, investing in those people and knowing why you decided to get into business.
“Did you get into business just to make a quick buck or did you go into business because you love business,” Christian said.
“It’s about doing more for our community, for our country,” Mahfood said.