Monday, 25 March 2019

FIRST GLOBAL BANK SME SUMMIT: Jampro’s Ricardo Durrant, ReadyTV’s Chris Dehring and others empower entrepreneurs

TABLE TALK: Chris Reckord holding court; Durrant and Dehring having a convo during the break.

FEW events on the local business calendar are as ideal for young and emerging entrepreneurs as First Global Bank’s annual SME Summit, which brings together a bunch of pros and stalwarts from the public and private sectors to empower and provide sage advice for local business people who are looking to take their enterprises to the next level.

This year’s staging explored the idea of scaling your business. Among the main presenters was Jampro’s Ricardo Durrant, whose presentation spoke to scaling your business to increase output. He outlined three objectives (cost, cash and growth) that persons must “keep at the back of your head” while scaling.

Durrant is in favour of “buying in bulk” and “being strategic” with promotional endeavours. “Get persons to try your product because if they try it, they will buy it. Every person in your company should be a sales person,” he noted, adding, “Once your product is good and you know the market wants it, ensure you have that drive, that something, to pull you through. Being in business is something you have to have a passion for, because when it pushes you to the edge you’re either going to sink or swim.”

ReadyTV’s Chris Dehring spoke about having vision and an innovative mind during his presentation. Island Car Rentals CEO Michael Campbell highlighted the importance of treating your staff like family, and attorney Alison Peart (Ernst & Young) emphasized that integrity and compliance are key to creating value.

During a revealing chat with Mariame McIntosh-Robinson (First Global Bank CEO and President), hotelier Christopher Issa (the swanky new S Hotel) outlined the Three E’s (follow up with everybody, every day, about everything), 4 F’s (Farther, Friends, Fear, Focus) and 1H (you have to use your ‘himagination’) among the essential tools for succeeding in business. 

Head of Stewarts Auto Group, Jackie Stewart-Lechler, explained how sticking to purpose and giving back makes a big difference in her company. “We love this country bad, bad, bad. So we want to leave a little mark on it. Every year when we review our financials, we set something aside for charity, like building basic schools in the rural areas through our foundation,” she told the gathering. “Just to see the joy on their faces, we feel good. So it’s in our DNA to give back and build our country.”

AHEAD OF THE PACK: Shaggy, Koffee and Sean Paul top nominees list for IRAWMA ceremony

THE A-LIST: Grange, IRAWMA founder Ephraim Martin, and special honoree Joe Bogdanovich at the recent launch.

THE International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA), last staged in Jamaica in 2002, is returning to city Kingston for its 37th anniversary staging on May 11. The occasion is momentous for at least two reasons, as it coincides with the 50th anniversary of reggae’s emergence as a musical genre, and May 11 commemorates the date of Bob Marley’s passing.

“It’s a fitting tribute to the memory of the legend. Bob Marley wanted to die on Jamaican soil because if he died while travelling it would have meant something to him,” Culture minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange said, delivering the keynote address at last Tuesday’s media launch at the hosting venue, the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.

This will be the fourth staging of the IRAWMA ceremony on Jamaican soil, after stops here in 1991, 2001 and 2002. “The timing is great,” says Grange. “You have come home at a time when a lot of things are happening, but nothing happens before its time. We must celebrate our own industry and give as much support to people who are doing something for the music and the culture.”

This year, the organizers have chosen to recognize some 161 nominees in 41 categories, with nine special awards also to be handed out. Shaggy (5), Sean Paul (4) and Koffee (4) have the most individual nominations.

Lifetime Achievement Award honorees Tony Rebel, Boris Gardner and Mutabaruka will also be inducted into the IRAWMA Hall of Fame. Joe Bogdanovich (Entrepreneur Award), Beres Hammond (Reggae/Lover’s Rock Legend Award) and Grange (2018’s Person of the Year) are among the other special honorees.

Busy Signal, Chronixx, Damian Marley, Popcaan and Shaggy are vying for the coveted Bob Marley Award for Entertainer of the Year. 

>> Log on to to see the complete list of nominees and to cast your vote. Public voting closes on April 20.

Friday, 22 March 2019

BEST IN SHOW: Vibrant imagery populate the International Reggae Poster Design exhibition

BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL: Roshane Taylor's "Chronixx - Reggae Revival" is among the highlights; (below) Sejas' winning entry.

AS we all know, Jamaica’s music has embedded itself in the global consciousness with matchless cross-generational appeal. Nowhere have we seen richer evidence in recent times than at the Art of Reggae exhibition, which is currently on view at the National Gallery of Jamaica.

The showcase brings together the best 100 pieces from the 2018 International Reggae Poster Design Competition, which drew submissions from countries as far-flung as Greece, Ghana, Finland, the UK, Australia and Poland, among others.

You are awed by the visually appealing creations (digital prints, abstracts, drawings, graphics, etc.) in professional and student categories. At its core, the exhibition highlights an impressive array of reggae iconography cleverly depicted with a bold, vibrant palette.

The all-conquering reggae lion makes multiple appearances – in works by Denmark’s Simone Bernini, China’s Huang Yang and Iran’s Mohammad Onookosari, who reminds us that “Reggae music is a symbol of coexistence and peace.”

Some of the genre’s most celebrated ambassadors are impressively immortalized. Highlights include Roshane Taylor’s “Chronixx – Reggae Revival”, Matisyahu portrayed as a mystical prophet/sorcerer by Poland’s Rafael Rola and Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley brought to life in a captivating painting by Monica Avile (Mexico).

The Bob Marley homages, in deep, moody tones, are plentiful, with offerings by Ernesto Jacobo (USA), Ilknur Karahan (Turkey) and Jacek Tofil (Poland), among others. Even the sound system gets its due, thanks to Germany’s Fonzo Moto and Portugal’s Ruben Pereira.
Fusing a clever concept with effective execution, the competition’s overall winner, Vinicio Sejas (Bolivia) outshone his rivals with a regal reggae lion viewing the world through an old-school cassette tape. It’s an iconic, memorable image – as one would expect from a series of works offering global interpretations of the reggae beat via artistic imagery.

PHOTO DIARY: Star power reigns at Buju Banton’s 'Long Walk to Freedom' mega-concert

LAST Saturday night, Buju Banton fans from across Jamaica, the region and numerous international destinations had their eyes glued to the stage inside the National Stadium as the Gargamel kicked off his long-awaited Long Walk to Freedom concert tour with a sizzling performance that people are still talking about. The supersized crowd was filled with folks from all walks, including some famous faces...

>> Crooner Tarrus Riley and his entourage were snapped enjoying the vibes.

>> New parents Krystal Tomlinson and Beenie Man made it a musical date night.

>> Miss Kitty flaunted her superwoman finesse in this stylish cape paying homage to the man of the moment. 

>> Reggae queen Marcia Griffiths was resplendent in royal purple as she graced the stage to join Buju for a duet.

>> Morgan Heritage’s Gramps Morgan also joined his fellow Grammy winner onstage for a rendition of their classic collabo, “The Lord’s Prayer.”

>> Floyd Green, who might be working with a new Education minister soon, as well as dancehall hotshot Sheldon ‘Aidonia’ Lawrence were also at the Stadium to see Buju’s historic comeback performance.

>> With new projects in the works, star boys Shaggy, Sean Paul, Machel Montano and others stepped out to show support for the Long Walk to Freedom tour kick-off.

(Photography: Sleek Jamaica)

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

KINGSTON CITY MARATHON: GC Foster’s Oshane McDonald, Finland’s Mari Kauri win inaugural event

WE DID IT! Winners McDonald and Kauri collect their prizes; (above) participants celebrate at the finish line.

PROCEEDS from Sunday’s successful Kingston City Marathon, the inaugural staging, will be donated to four local charities: the Alpha Institute, the Marie Atkins night shelter, Food for the Poor and Missionaries of the Poor.

Hundreds of participants flocked to the streets of New Kingston to be a part of history, as the event, formerly a half marathon (for six years) known as the Kingston City Run, found new life on a grander scale. The Jamaica Tourist Board, the Norman Manley International Airport, Lifespan and Caribbean Airlines led a raft of sponsors contributing to a well-executed staging to raise funds for cash-strapped charitable organizations.

GC Foster College senior Oshane McDonald emerged winner of the marathon, stopping the clock at 2 hours/52 minutes/44 seconds. Kemar Leslie was second, with Philip McCatty claiming the third-place spot. On the women’s side, Finland native Mari Kauri won in 3 hours/35 minutes/54 seconds. Aretha Martin took second, while Sonia Gayle came in third. 

“Running is like meditation for me,” said the 51-year-old Kauri, who works in purchasing and has been competing in marathons since 2004. McDonald, on the other hand, was doing a marathon for the first time. “It felt extraordinary to be going up against some of the best in the Caribbean,” said the 25-year-old who is now turning his attention to the upcoming inter-collegiate championships. 

The morning’s activities included booth displays and demonstrations, giveaways and a live performance by gospel minister Rondell Positive.

NEWS FEED: Major shake-up in Sagicor Group power structure … Paymaster J’ca appoints new GM … Reigning Festival Queen launches national project

NATURE & NURTURE: “We are no transitioning from a linear economy to a circular economy,” says reigning Miss Jamaica Festival Queen, Ackera Gowie, recently launching her national project, EcoMoney. Designed to turn non-biodegradable waste into profit through up-cycling, EcoMoney is aimed at pulling Jamaican communities together in an effort to preserve the environment while increasing youth-based economic development. “The overall mission of EcoMoney is to create partnerships between the private and public sector,” says the St. Mary native, “to engage communities and allow each citizen to play their part in the welfare of the whole human race.” Gowie’s national project is being sponsored by the national Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA), Popeye’s, the Digicel Foundation, Excelsior and Lasco Money.

LEADING LADY: Nicolene Worthy-Donaldson is the new General Manager of Paymaster Jamaica, becoming the first female appointed to the post. Worthy-Donaldson leads “an all-female cast of senior manager” at the bill-payment company, which Ambassador Audrey Marks started two decades ago, before selling the controlling interest to the Digicel Group in 2015. Worthy-Donaldson has previously worked with such corporate entities as Digicel Jamaica, Lasco Financial Services, Intcomex Jamaica and Samsung Electronics.

A NEW PHASE: Sagicor Group Jamaica has embarked on major in-house restructuring. With the planned March 22 departure of Vice President (Risk Management and Compliance), Hope Wint, Danielle Davidson will take up the role of Chief Risk and Compliance Officer. Vice President (Group Marketing) Simone Walker is also headed off to new opportunities and will be replaced by Alysia Moulton White, who will take the lead in group marketing as Assistant Vice President. Senior executive Philip Armstrong will depart the insurance conglomerate at the end of May. And the search is reportedly on for an ideally qualified individual to fill the newly created position of Chief Information Officer. He/she will be responsible for leading the company’s drive to digitize its operations.

‘SHILOH’ REAWAKENED: Buju Banton’s euphoric mega-concert drew supporters from all walks

CROWD PLEASER: The Grammy winner giving a stellar performance on Saturday night.

IT seems all roads led to the National Stadium on Saturday evening. From multiple traffic changes in the Corporate Area to countless postponed events, it was as if the Pope was paying us a visit and nobody wanted to miss it. By the time you got to the Stadium complex, you were swept up in a euphoric Grand Gala type of energy.

Buju Banton’s mega-concert to kick off his highly anticipated Long Walk to Freedom Tour was a homecoming celebration like no other. A nation’s way of saying ‘Welcome Home’ to a beloved son. 

As we people-watched on Saturday night, it was largely a youthful, well-dressed crowd that came out to see the Gargamel and friends in concert. As patrons filed through the gates in their dozens, you took note of the couples, the singles, the all-male posses, the Rastas and baldheads alike.

The JUTC shuttled busloads of persons (mostly out-of-towners) from National Heroes’ Circle to the venue; tour bus companies transported their own busloads as well (adding to the large number of foreigners in attendance) and several VIP vehicles were seen getting the expected police escort. The place buzzed with excitement. These were people ready to be entertained.

The car parks were filled to capacity (Mas Camp was sea of SUVs, BMWs and other fancy models). Arthur Wint Drive, particularly the area around the Bob Marley statue, was converted into a lively marketplace, as everyone from jerked chicken vendors to the jelly man was determined to cash in on the action.

Non-ticket holders who wanted a Grandstand seat or a spot in the Bleachers made last-minute purchases from “sellers” who made their presence known with intermittent announcements. You couldn’t miss them. Thankfully, a heavy police presence prevented any vehicular pile-ups or mishaps. For such a huge event, there was a surprising absence of chaos and drama, at least from our vantage point.

After all, this momentous occasion was all about the music – and the not-to-be-missed opportunity of seeing a beloved reggae icon returning to the concert stage in front of a capacity home crowd. You want to be on your best behaviour. The vibe was nice.

As we paused by the main entrance to survey the landscape, we overheard a grateful vendor saying to somebody, “Ah di biggest show ever keep ah Jamaica.” And you know what? He could be right.