Investing in a new Jamaica

SHANICE LEWIS | 7/25/2018, 4:52 p.m.
Blue waters, sunshine and an overflow of rum punches were a small part of the welcome guests received at the ...

Blue waters, sunshine and an overflow of rum punches were a small part of the welcome guests received at the tri-annual Jamaica Investment Forum in Montego Bay earlier this month.

Hosted by Jamaica Promotions Agency under the sponsorship of the prime minister of Jamaica, the conference sought to showcase Jamaica’s investment successors, its current economic growth and an inside glimpse at some of its industries, including tourism, manufacturing, energy, logistics and outsourcing.

According to the Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw, “Jamaica is fast becoming the regional poster child for fiscal prudence and economic growth, buoyed by a skilled and talented workforce with current and relevant legislative framework supporting established as well as fledgling industries.”

Over the two-day forum, investors heard from some of Jamaica’s leading businesses.

There’s no doubt that Jamaica is home to some of the finest cuisine, including their signature ackee and saltfish dish or savory jerk chicken, but it is their rich flavors that make their foods such a staple.

King Pepper Products Ltd., which has been producing the Eaton’s brand of seasonings and condiments for more than 25 years, is one of the many manufacturing companies providing services to local Jamaican businesses as well as international companies.

Eaton’s, founded by Dudley W. Eaton in 1985, is home to four varieties of jerk seasoning, dry spices and barbecue sauce. The day-to-day duties are now run by CEO and Managing Director Christine Wong.

With a small staff and even smaller work space, Eaton’s produces 25 products, including 2 million jars of jerk seasoning per year. Wong says the company continues to grow with the industry and hopes to capture the mainstream market someday, but for now she’s working on expanding her workspace to ensure the safety and comfort of employees.

One of Jamaica’s most unexpected but equally thriving industries is their Business Process Outsourcing sector. Jamaica has become a favorable near-shore location for IT-BPO for companies across the United States and Asia. Catering to divisions that include finance and accounting, health care, back office services and technical support, this booming BPO industry has employed more than 31,000 people.

Itelbpo Smart Solutions, founded in 2012 in Montego Bay, has become the largest homegrown Caribbean outsourcer with locations in Jamaica’s largest cities and a growing presence in the Bahamas. As an emerging outsourcer with clients across eight markets, Itelbpo is known for its decorative office spaces filled with fun inspiring quotes and their adamancy for hiring young adults.

Jamaica has great successes seen in recent years because of past conferences such as JIF, with growing sectors that demand a greater number of highly skilled workers resulting in an unemployment rate that has reached a record low of 9.6 percent. Jamaica has surely become a role model for other Caribbean countries in the way they are working to advance their culture, people and impact on the global economy.

“Our strident advances give hope, and we are quite aware that hope and stability are the cornerstones of investor confidence. That is why we have provided this opportunity for investors to identify gems of opportunities in Jamaica. These gems will not only benefit and enrich the lives of the Jamaican people, but will offer great returns for potential investors,” said Shaw.