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Fake News…..No Tax on Airbnb Operators – Minister Bartlett



Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says that the Government has no intention of imposing a tax on persons who are renting out their homes or providing space for travellers who have booked through Airbnb.

“I have heard the false reports, especially on social media… [but] nothing could be further from the truth, as we have had no such discussion.

“What we have discussed is an administrative charge being levied on Airbnb, which will in no way, shape or form affect what is being paid over by Airbnb to property owners”.

Mr. Bartlett, who was speaking to JIS News following a fundraising event at the Jewel Grande Montego Bay Hotel & Spa in Rose Hall, St. James, recently, said that many Jamaicans continue to make a good living from being a part of the Airbnb global network and is encouraging more persons to join the programme.

“There have been a lot of success stories going on around the country. It is very heartwarming to see small properties in places like Port Antonio… now getting a new lease on life courtesy of Airbnb,” he said.

“What you are finding is that tourism is now actively alive and well in places. All over Jamaica… in Trench Town, in Spanish Town, in Clarendon…the Airbnb fever has caught on,” Mr. Bartlett noted.

He added that the programme is also assisting with promoting Jamaica as a destination, pointing to the level of interaction and the friendships being developed between hosts and guests.

“This is community tourism at its best. I keep saying everywhere I go that Jamaica’s biggest and most iconic asset is its people, and that is what I am seeing with those who are on the Airbnb programme. They are feeling what it is like to be a part of tourism. Rooms are being added to provide more space, and repeat visitors are coming back in droves,” he said.

Airbnb is an online marketplace, which enables people to rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests.

In December 2016, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and Airbnb to establish a framework for cooperation to further boost and diversify Jamaica’s tourism product.

Minister Bartlett, along with other local officials, subsequently met with the leadership team of Airbnb at the entity’s San Francisco, California, headquarters in August 2017.

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Businessuite News24

Overcoming Funding Challenges: Strategies for Jamaican Entrepreneurs



Raising capital is a critical yet challenging aspect of entrepreneurship, and Jamaican founders are no exception to this global struggle. Despite the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit and innovative ideas prevalent on the island, securing the necessary funds to grow and scale early-stage companies remains a formidable obstacle. This article explores the factors influencing investor hesitations, strategies to mitigate these challenges, and practical steps Jamaican entrepreneurs can take to enhance their funding prospects.

Factors Impacting Investor Hesitations
Investors, regardless of geographic location, exhibit common hesitations that can stymie funding efforts. Some of these factors include:

Perceived Market Risk: Investors often see emerging markets, including Jamaica, as high-risk due to economic instability, regulatory uncertainty, and less mature financial ecosystems.

Lack of Proven Track Record: Early-stage companies frequently lack a history of success, making it difficult for investors to gauge their potential for return on investment.

Insufficient Business Models: A lack of clear, scalable, and sustainable business models can deter investment. Investors seek companies with clear pathways to profitability.

Limited Access to Networks: Entrepreneurs often lack access to networks that can connect them with potential investors, advisors, and partners.

Inadequate Financial Management: Poor financial planning and management can signal to investors that a company is not ready to handle significant capital.

Scalability Concerns: Investors need assurance that a business can scale efficiently and effectively beyond its local market.

Strategies to Overcome Funding Challenges
Both investors and entrepreneurs have developed strategies to bridge the funding gap:

For Investors:
Establishing Local Partnerships: Investors often mitigate risks by partnering with local firms that have a deeper understanding of the market.

Providing Mentorship and Resources: Beyond capital, some investors offer mentorship and access to resources, helping startups build robust business models and financial strategies.

Stage-Gated Investments: By investing in stages based on achieving specific milestones, investors can reduce their exposure to risk.

For Entrepreneurs:
Building Strong Networks: Engaging with local and international entrepreneurial networks can open doors to potential investors and partners.

Seeking Alternative Funding Sources: Crowdfunding, grants, and competitions can provide initial capital and validate business ideas.

Demonstrating Market Traction: Showing proof of concept, initial sales, and customer feedback can help convince investors of the business’s potential.

Case Studies
Case Study 1: XXXRock Juice
XXXRock Juice, a Jamaican startup producing organic beverages, faced significant challenges in raising funds. By participating in international pitch competitions and leveraging social media to showcase their product’s popularity, they secured seed funding from an angel investor network. This investment enabled them to scale production and expand their market presence.

Case Study 2: XXXTech Solutions
XXXTech Solutions, a tech startup focusing on innovative software solutions for local businesses, struggled to gain investor confidence due to their early-stage status. By partnering with a local accelerator program, they received mentorship and access to a network of investors. Their refined business model and pilot projects helped secure a substantial venture capital investment.

Top 10 Ways Jamaican Founders Can Better Position Themselves.

  1. Develop a Clear and Scalable Business Model: Ensure your business plan demonstrates a clear path to scalability and profitability.
  2. Showcase Market Traction: Gather data on initial sales, customer feedback, and market demand to present a compelling case to investors.
  3. Enhance Financial Planning and Management: Maintain detailed and accurate financial records, and present realistic financial projections.
  4. Leverage Local and International Networks: Join entrepreneurial networks and attend industry events to build connections with potential investors.
  5. Participate in Accelerator and Incubator Programs: These programs offer valuable resources, mentorship, and exposure to investors.
  6. Utilize Alternative Funding Sources: Explore crowdfunding platforms, apply for grants, and enter startup competitions to gain initial capital and visibility.
  7. Focus on Strong Marketing and Branding: Develop a strong brand identity and marketing strategy to attract both customers and investors.
  8. Seek Mentorship and Advice: Engage with experienced entrepreneurs and advisors to refine your business strategy and pitch.
  9. Present a Strong Team: Highlight the strengths and expertise of your team, demonstrating that you have the skills necessary to succeed.
  10. Prepare a Compelling Pitch: Craft a clear, concise, and persuasive pitch that addresses potential investors’ concerns and showcases your business’s potential.

While raising funds remains a significant challenge for Jamaican entrepreneurs, understanding investor hesitations and adopting strategic measures can greatly improve their chances of success. By developing robust business models, showcasing market traction, and leveraging networks and alternative funding sources, Jamaican founders can better position themselves to secure the investment needed to grow and scale their companies. The entrepreneurial journey is fraught with obstacles, but with the right strategies and perseverance, these challenges can be overcome.


BlackSlate Holdings Group Limited

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Who is Leesa Kow? Managing Director, JN Bank and Chairman of the Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB)



Leesa Kow is a distinguished leader in the financial sector, serving as the Managing Director of JN Bank and the Chairman of the Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB). Her career is marked by strategic vision and a commitment to digital transformation and financial inclusion.

Early Career and Professional Background
Leesa Kow joined JN Bank in 2003 as Senior Manager for Remittances. Her leadership capabilities quickly propelled her through various senior roles, including Executive of Marketing, Sales, and Promotion in 2006, and General Manager of JN Money Services Limited (JNMS) in 2008. At JNMS, Kow oversaw significant expansion, growing the company’s reach from 200 branches and agents to over 8,000 across three continents within three years, cementing JN Money as the largest remittance brand from the Caribbean​​.

Leadership at JN Bank
Kow’s ascent to the role of Managing Director in July 2022 followed her tenure as Deputy Managing Director from November 2017. As Deputy Managing Director, she was instrumental in implementing JN Bank’s digitalisation initiatives, enhancing operational efficiency and customer service. Her strategic focus on technology and innovation has been pivotal in transforming JN Bank into a more agile and customer-centric institution​​.

Contributions to the Financial Industry
Beyond her work at JN Bank, Kow has significantly impacted the broader financial services sector. Her tenure as president of the Jamaica Money Remitters Association from 2012 to 2017 showcased her leadership in advocating for the remittance industry. In October 2022, she was elected Chair of the Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB), where she continues to influence regional banking policies and practices​.

Educational Background
Leesa Kow’s academic credentials are impressive, holding a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Studies and Accounting (First Class Honours) and a Master of Science degree in International Business (Distinction) from The University of the West Indies. These qualifications underscore her strong foundation in business leadership and strategic management​​.

Impact and Vision
Under Kow’s leadership, JN Bank has made significant strides in digital transformation, positioning itself as a forward-thinking financial institution. Her vision for the future includes continued emphasis on innovation, customer service excellence, and financial inclusion. Kow’s influence extends across the Caribbean, as she leverages her roles to advocate for advancements in the banking sector and to support regional economic development.

Leesa Kow’s journey from senior manager to managing director of JN Bank exemplifies her dedication, strategic foresight, and impactful leadership. Her contributions to the financial sector and her role in shaping regional banking policies make her a notable figure in Caribbean banking, inspiring the next generation of female leaders in finance.

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Norbrook Equity Partners Expands Footprint in Panama with Acquisition of KFC and Dairy Queen



Norbrook Equity Partners Limited (NEPL), a prominent Jamaican investment group, has announced a significant expansion into the Panamanian market with the acquisition of the KFC and Dairy Queen franchises. This strategic move marks a notable development in the Panamanian quick-service restaurant (QSR) landscape and underscores Norbrook’s ambition to deepen its presence in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Current Operations and Market Presence
KFC has a longstanding history in Panama, having served the market for over 45 years. The brand is well-established, offering a variety of popular menu items and maintaining a robust presence across the country. Similarly, Dairy Queen enjoys a solid reputation, particularly known for its ice cream and fast-food offerings in key locations like the Centennial Mall​ ​.

Competitive Landscape
The QSR market in Panama is competitive, with major international brands such as McDonald’s, Burger King, and Subway vying for market share. KFC and Dairy Queen have carved out niches with their unique offerings—KFC with its famous fried chicken and Dairy Queen with its signature Blizzards and ice cream treats. The entry of Norbrook Equity Partners introduces a dynamic new player with extensive experience in managing and expanding food service brands.

The Decision to Sell
The previous owners of the Panamanian KFC and Dairy Queen franchises likely saw the sale as an opportunity to leverage the strategic capabilities and capital strength of Norbrook Equity Partners. Norbrook’s proven track record of successful acquisitions and its ability to inject capital for growth likely played a crucial role in the decision to transfer ownership​.

Who Are the New Owners?
Norbrook Equity Partners, founded by Khary Robinson, is a diversified investment holding company based in Kingston, Jamaica. The firm has built a reputation for identifying and growing high-potential businesses across various sectors, including logistics, consumer goods, and services. Their portfolio includes well-known brands such as Mailpac Group, Hertz Jamaica, and Express Fitness. This acquisition aligns with Norbrook’s strategy to expand its footprint in the Caribbean and Latin American markets​.

Opportunities for Growth and Expansion
Norbrook Equity Partners’ acquisition of KFC and Dairy Queen in Panama opens several avenues for growth. With new capital and strategic direction, these franchises can enhance their market presence through expanded menu offerings, improved customer service, and innovative marketing strategies. Additionally, there is potential for opening new locations to increase accessibility and market penetration.

Norbrook’s expertise in scaling businesses and its strategic focus on the Caribbean and Latin America positions it well to leverage the existing strengths of KFC and Dairy Queen. This move is expected to bring operational efficiencies, improved supply chain logistics, and enhanced customer experiences, ultimately driving growth in these markets​​.

Looking Forward
Norbrook’s entry into the Panamanian QSR market signals a robust phase of growth and innovation. The acquisition is set to not only strengthen the presence of KFC and Dairy Queen but also stimulate the competitive landscape, offering Panamanian consumers enhanced dining experiences. As Norbrook Equity Partners continues to expand its portfolio, its strategic investments are poised to unlock significant value and drive sustainable growth across the region.

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Artificial Intelligence

The Rise of Drone Deliveries: Implications for Jamaica, the Caribbean and the Future of Logistics



Amazon’s MK27-2 drone is at the forefront of transforming logistics with its ongoing testing at an airport in Pendleton, Oregon. This advanced 87-pound hexacopter is part of Amazon’s Prime Air initiative, aiming to revolutionize the way we receive packages by enabling faster and more efficient deliveries.

The Development of Amazon’s Drone Program
Amazon has been developing its drone technology for almost a decade, with the goal of creating a safe, scalable, and efficient delivery system. The MK27-2 drone, set for deployment in 2024, is designed to deliver packages weighing up to five pounds within a short time frame, potentially less than an hour from order placement. This drone features advanced sense-and-avoid technology, which allows it to detect and navigate around obstacles autonomously, enhancing safety and reliability​​.

Competitors in the Drone Delivery Space
Amazon is not alone in the drone delivery race. Alphabet’s Wing has been successfully conducting drone deliveries in Australia and is expanding its operations in the U.S. Flytrex, another competitor, is increasing its presence in the U.S., while Irish company Manna plans to extend its drone delivery services from Europe to the U.S. Each of these companies is leveraging technology to offer faster, more reliable delivery services, which are particularly advantageous in remote or hard-to-reach areas​​.

Implications for Jamaica and the Caribbean
The introduction of drone delivery services holds significant potential for Jamaica and the broader Caribbean region. These areas often face logistical challenges due to geographical constraints and infrastructure limitations. Drones can provide a cost-effective and rapid delivery solution, particularly for medical supplies, emergency services, and e-commerce.

Implementing drone logistics in the Caribbean could enhance supply chain efficiency, reduce delivery times, and lower costs. For instance, drones could facilitate better access to healthcare by delivering medications to remote islands or rural areas quickly. They could also boost the local economy by supporting small businesses in reaching a broader market with reduced delivery times.

Case Studies and Future Prospects
In practical applications, drone delivery services have demonstrated substantial benefits. For example, in Rwanda, drones are used to deliver blood supplies to remote hospitals, significantly reducing delivery times from hours to minutes. This model can be adapted to the Caribbean, where timely access to medical supplies is often critical.

Looking forward, the success of drone delivery in regions like the Caribbean depends on overcoming regulatory challenges, ensuring community acceptance, and building the necessary infrastructure. Collaborative efforts between governments, private companies, and local communities will be essential to harness the full potential of drone technology in transforming logistics.

Amazon’s MK27-2 drone represents a significant leap in the logistics industry, promising faster, safer, and more efficient delivery services. As other companies like Alphabet’s Wing and Flytrex join the fray, the competitive landscape will drive further innovations. For regions like Jamaica and the Caribbean, drone technology offers a transformative opportunity to enhance logistics and support economic development.

By leveraging these advancements, the Caribbean can not only improve access to essential services but also position itself as a leader in adopting cutting-edge logistics solutions. The future of drone deliveries is bright, and its implications for global logistics are profound.

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Customised Smart Battery Industry Well-Positioned To Capitalise On Growing Shift Towards Cleaner Energy Solutions….Alexander Melville



In the last three months, the ustomised smart battery industry has also made significant strides alongside the broader growth observed in the renewable energy and energy storage sectors. This niche within the energy storage market has been gaining momentum, fuelled by technological advancements and increased demand for personalised energy solutions that cater specifically to unique operational needs that benefit us.

The industry’s development is buoyed by the regulatory and financial frameworks propelling the renewable sector, particularly the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). These acts have facilitated a surge in investments to enhance battery technology capabilities, including developing intelligent batteries that are more efficient, durable, and capable of interfacing with various digital management systems.

Customised intelligent batteries are increasingly critical components in integrating renewable energy systems. They offer optimised storage solutions that adapt to different scales and types of renewable energy installations. They are vital in applications requiring high reliability and efficiency, such as utility-scale solar and wind projects, where they help stabilise the grid and manage output variability.

Moreover, the drive towards domestic production emphasised by recent policy initiatives has strengthened the supply chain for intelligent battery components. This domestic focus not only aids in reducing logistic vulnerabilities but also supports the U.S. economy and job creation in the tech and manufacturing sectors. As more companies enter the smart battery market, competition is spurring innovation, leading to rapid advancements in battery technology that could further enhance the performance and cost-effectiveness of these systems.

Customised intelligent batteries are increasingly critical components in integrating renewable energy systems.

The customised smart battery industry is well-positioned to capitalise on the growing shift towards cleaner energy solutions. It will play a pivotal role in the green transition while continuing to evolve in response to technological advances and market demands.

Alexander Melville Chief Executive Officer Tropical Battery Company Limited

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