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When DBJ Came to The Rescue of One on One Educational Services

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Photo: Founder and Chief Executive Officer of One on One Educational Services Limited, Ricardo Allen (centre, seated), points out features of the company’s e-Learning platform to students.

In 2017, when One on One Educational Services was facing financial challenges, the company’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ricardo Allen, went to the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) for assistance.

He tells JIS News that at the time “we were running out of money” and he had made the tough decision to close the physical office space and operate remotely.

The DBJ came to the rescue, providing Mr. Allen with financial support and guidance, which not only enabled him to rebuild but also to grow his business beyond Jamaica.

One on One now has contracts with clients across the Caribbean and the United States.

Mr. Allen tells JIS News that One on One was able to fund the development of software “that now the Government of Bahamas is using, Government of St. Kitts, all of these folks. I just got my first contract out of California, in the United States of America”.

One on One Education Services is among MSMEs that have benefited from billions of dollars in funding support to improve and grow its operations through a range of products and services offered by the DBJ.

As innovative technology company established in 2013, One on One provides a range of digital education and training solutions.

The company, located in New Kingston, has built out an award-winning online learning platform, with personalised courses for students, as well as corporations and governments across the Caribbean.

Clients benefit from e-learning courses, online training, instructional design services, and expert tutors and trainers. Some 400,000 students have been served through the online platform.

One-on-One Educational Services Limited – Junior Market Prospectus August 2022.

Mr. Allen says that the DBJ has been with the company “every step of the way”.

He recalls that “when we started the business and started the online learning platform, we felt like we needed money. We raised money from the market and we got investors, but we quickly ran out. With this big idea, we went to the DBJ, and they supported us [under] the Innovation Grant from New Ideas to Entrepreneurship (IGNITE) programme.”

IGNITE enables Jamaican entrepreneurs, particularly MSMEs with innovative business ideas, to access grant funds to develop and commercialise their products and services.

Mr. Allen notes that once he received the grant from the DBJ, there was a team of people that provided the guidance needed.

“When I sat with DBJ in that board room, they have this ability to just sit and listen to my crazy ideas and their attitude is ‘how can we help to support?’. And so, from day one, when we got that IGNITE grant of $2.5 million, it did wonders for us.

“That allowed us to create a technology and a software or online learning platform that we could now deliver to anybody anywhere,” he says.

One on One has also received loan support through the DBJ’s Credit Enhancement Facility (CEF).

This is a risk-sharing arrangement under which the Bank provides partial guarantees to approved financial institutions to enable them to increase lending to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

With the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and students studying online, Mr. Allen again approached the DBJ for assistance in developing an innovation, which will provide people with access to the Internet, particularly those in remote rural areas.

“So, we created this thing called Internet-in-a-Box. It’s really a small device, and what we do is download a version of the Internet on this device and we deploy it in rural Jamaica,” Mr. Allen notes.

“I grew up in Jackson Town, Trelawny, and if you put that [device] in Jackson Town, the students would gather around it, just like they do with Wi-Fi. They can consume any Internet-based resources on that device, without the need for Internet,” he explains further.

“We needed to bring that to the market, and we went back to the DBJ and said we have an innovation, and we need the funding to go. They had the perfect opportunity, which is this Innovation Grant [Fund] and we applied for it,” he adds.

The Innovation Grant is a product under the Boosting Innovation, Growth and Entrepreneurship Ecosystems (BIGEE) Programme, that provides grants for innovation projects by medium-sized enterprises.

These grants are used to assist in the development and commercialisation of new products, services, processes, or new business models.

Mr. Allen tells JIS News that the grant process was rigorous “because they [DBJ) wanted to ensure that whatever they are putting their money towards is something that is going to lead to nation-building. So, we accessed the grant, and we are now in the process of producing these devices that we’re going to deploy across Jamaica”.

For the Innovation Grant, the company had to provide evidence that it was making more than $75 million in revenues consistently over the past three years and also demonstrate that the product could be commercialised.

“Our product is in the process of being commercialised, so it’s not yet ready for the market; it’s something that we are building. The product had to be needed by the market and the DBJ looked at this and the next thing they looked at was the quality of the team behind this. Could they execute on this promise, because many of us have ideas but cannot execute on that promise,” Mr. Allen points out.

Meanwhile, the CEO told JIS News that he values not only the financial support provided to One on One by the DBJ over the years but also the mentorship and advice, which have allowed his company to take advantage of the opportunities to grow.

He recalls that five years ago, when he made the decision to operate the company from home “the DBJ team came into my bungalow, and they sat down in a little corner and they …. worked through every problem I was having. They gave me all the solutions. They have never left me.”

“They have a team of people who stand head and shoulder with you to ensure it is done and is executed, plus they also connect you with their network of people and organisation to give you that support,” he notes.

Mr. Allen notes that with the assistance from DBJ, One on One has become a truly regional company, noting that “90 per cent of our clients are outside of Jamaica”.

“We would not have been able to do it without the vision, without the financing, the mentorship from DBJ,” he says.

Corporate Movements

JAMPRO’s President Diane Edwards Makes A Career Step Amidst Praise For Achievements

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It is with regret that we advise that President Diane Edwards has given notice that she will not be renewing her contract, which ends December 31, 2022. She has opted instead to pursue her next career opportunities.

Over the last 9 years, under the stewardship of President Edwards, JAMPRO has been perceived by incoming investors as responsive and constantly helpful. Under her leadership, JAMPRO has taken on an enhanced marketing orientation, driven by pro-active team of professionals.

Ms. Edwards has led JAMPRO to be a leading government organization that has provided local and international investors in the tourism, manufacturing, and mining sectors with significant assistance to overcome difficulties as the seek to do business in Jamaica. The Global Digital Services (Business Process Outsourcing) (BPO) industry has moved from 12,000 jobs in 2013 to 54,000 jobs in 2022 through the attraction of new BPO companies and the creation of an ecosystem for multiple expansions across the country. Ms. Edwards and JAMPRO have played important roles in attracting these BPO businesses to assist the Jamaican economy.

Over the period, JAMPRO also commenced the implementation of transformative projects such as the creation of a National Business Portal and the establishment of a National Investment Policy, while advocating for the creation of a cannabis and hemp industry. In addition, the organisation has led the development and implementation of multiple sector strategies geared towards development and growth such as the National Global Digital Services Strategy, the National Manufacturing Strategy and the draft National 4-Year Agribusiness Strategy.

Melanie Subratie, Chair of JAMPRO, expressed her appreciation for the strong relationship she has built with Diane and gratitude for the work they have done together noting that “I have long been a champion of the sterling work done by JAMPRO and as a fellow female leader, I have admired Diane’s transformation of the organisation into a client-centric, results driven agency, leading the cause of the private sector. I am sorry to see her go, but I know that she has led a remarkable team who will continue her stellar work. There is no doubt in my mind that the Jamaica BPO industry would not exist in its current form without the work of Diane and her team at JAMPRO. They literally built an industry from the ground up.”

Senator the Honourable Aubyn Hill, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce added that “Diane’s endeavours to stimulate export and investment have played a significant role in the growth of the nation’s capabilities. Her management of JAMPRO and contributions to Jamaica’s economic development will be remembered.”

The Chair of JAMPRO advised that “I will continue to work closely with Diane, who is keen on supporting the process, to ensure a smooth and seamless transition. The role of the President of JAMPRO is vital to nation building and all efforts will be made to source the best talent over the next 3 months.”

The JAMPRO Board, supported by its Human Resource Committee, will immediately begin the process to recruit a new President.

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Breakthrough for Jamaica Limestone Export.

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Photo From left to right: President Diane Edwards-JAMPRO; Jase Millington, Operations Manager- Lydford Mining; Jackie Millington, Director-Lydford Mining, & Edgar Cousins, Director-Lydford Mining.

A turning point occurred on October 14th, 2022 for the Jamaican Limestone export sector; Lydford Mining Company has secured its first shipment of Construction Grade Limestone to the continental U.S.A.

Jamaica has one of the purest deposits of limestone globally with over 50 billion tonnes of proven limestone reserves. The Lydford Mining export shipment of 36,000mt tonnes of 3/4" stone is to be used in the production of concrete aggregates; and is destined for Savannah, Georgia. The loading for this first shipment is scheduled to take four days and involves 1,000 trucks, represents the start of a series of regular shipments into the South-eastern U.S. markets. JAMPRO’s President, Diane Edwards was on site, alongside Edgar Cousins and Jackie Millington of Lydford Mining, and the buyers from Twin Rivers Land & Timber team including Clay and Ashley Crosby, CEO and CFO respectively, to witness this historic occasion and observe the loading of the ship.

President Edwards spoke on the occasion “JAMPRO was instrumental in introducing Lydford Mining to Mr. Crosby, as the connecting of buyers with Jamaican exporters is a core function of JAMPRO and we are pleased that this connection has borne substantial fruit and an anticipated long-term relationship.

The Limestone global market size was valued at US$73.51billion in 2020 and is projected to reach US$113.6 Billion by 2028 according to Verified Market Research. The global projection bodes well for Jamaica and the potential of this milestone achievement for the Lydford Mining Company. The company is also a major producer, and exporter of value-added Limestone Aggregates, Ground Calcium Carbonate (GCC) for the Food/Pharmaceutical market, as well as for Flue-gas Desulphurization in the U.S.A. Regionally, it supplies markets for construction grade material and has supplied sand and gravel to customers in Aruba, Guantanamo Bay, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Lydford Mining also supplies materials manufactured to specification for the Construction, Animal Feed, Fertilizer, Paint, Plastics, and Soap industries to the domestic market. Lydford Mining is on a strategic path to double its business in 2023, while ensuring sustainable measures for the environment are in place to ensure we remain the premier producer of Limestone Aggregates in Jamaica” commented Edgar Cousins, Director, Lydford Mining.

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JAMPRO Initiative Paves Way For Over £85 Million Production Slate In The Jamaican Creative Industry

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JAMPRO, the arm of the Government of Jamaica that promotes business opportunities in export and investment to the local and international private sector, recently hosted a reception at the Jamaican High Commission, London to introduce four filmmakers based in Jamaica to potential British film financiers, investors, and distributors.

The networking reception enabled British film and animation executives to discover the attributes of the Jamaican film and animation industries as well as network with their Jamaican counterparts.

This initiative could be the forerunner that advances negotiations for a slate of film projects representing an estimated US$95 Million (£85milion) in production expenditure.).

The delegation from Jamaica consisted of filmmaker and storyteller, Ina Sotirova; Producer, Analisa Chapman – Have a Bawl Productions; Mezan Ayoka, writer, filmmaker and CEO of Ayzha Productions; and Adrian Lopez, CEO, producer and director at Liquid Light Digital (a film, animation and visual effects production house).

The Jamaican film projects were presented to some 50 British film producers, financiers, location managers, as well as companies which acquire and distribute film content. The JAMPRO reception facilitated initial discussions with investors. The filmmakers’ visit to London and participation in the BFI London Film Festival was supported by a United Kingdom Trade Partnership export-readiness programme, managed by the International Trade Centre.

Whilst celebrating the long history of collaboration between the British and Jamaican film industries, the event provided British film producers, location managers and film distributors with a rare opportunity to appreciate the myriad possibilities of filming in Jamaica in its widest sense.

Commenting on the success of the event, Laurence Jones, Manager – Europe at JAMPRO said “We were delighted to discover that a delegation of filmmakers representing Jamaican companies would attend the BFI London Film Festival and took this opportunity to promote Jamaican film projects to British investors and content distributors. JAMPRO will remain at their disposal to facilitate negotiations and support the execution of these projects.”

Head of Business Affairs at The Studio Group, Meredith Brett, said “the projects presented on the evening were well thought out, strongly developed and convincingly delivered. We made useful connection with Adrian Lopez of Liquid Light Digital and look forward to continuing our discussions about developing a studio in Jamaica. We look forward to visiting soon and putting boots on the ground.”

The JAMPRO London office is proactive in marketing the unique selling points of the Jamaican film industry such as varied locations, skilled and cost-effective crew, and a Co-production treaty with the UK that can facilitate tax credits for the UK leg of production. Jamaica facilitates on average 120+ productions shot on the island per year, with approximately 10-12% originating from the UK.

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MIIC & NCB Collaboration On Guyana Mission Delivers Multi-Sector Opportunities

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The recent mission to Guyana by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce has unearthed a range of business opportunities across multiple sectors, such as Agribusiness, Construction, Financial Services & Tourism.

Conceptualised and led by portfolio Minister, Senator The Honourable Aubyn Hill, and organised by JAMPRO, the Ministry’s trade and investment promotion arm, the seven-day mission comprised a Jamaican delegation of 33 private sector and government officials.

JAMPRO arranged over 70 official business to business meetings for the Jamaican delegation with Guyanese companies and government agencies. This, with the support and collaboration of sponsor NCB, and key players such as the Guyanese Manufacturing and Services Association (GSMA), the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce (GCC), the Private Sector Council of Guyana and Go-Invest, the Guyanese government’s trade and investment agency.

“The level of proactive collaboration seen during scheduled group and small meetings has been extremely positive and shows the real economic benefits to be gained by both Jamaica and Guyana from this mission. There are already plans for a follow-up mission to advance the strong potential,” said Minister Hill.

Business networking opportunities on the mission were reinforced by a cocktail reception, sponsored by NCB Capital Markets and hosted by Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill, at the Guyana Marriott Hotel. The reception featured the official signing of an MOU between the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-INVEST) and Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO).

The GSMA was represented by Executive Director, Nizam Hassan as well as second Vice President, Dr. Vishnu Doerga. Also in attendance were Chairman of the Extractive Industries subsector, Dinesh Bisessar; Chairman of the ICT subsector, Orson Ferguson; and Chairman of Textiles & Sewn Goods, Upasna Mudlier.

“NCB Capital Markets is a firm supporter of regional integration.

Steven Gooden, CEO, NCB Capital Market said, “NCB Capital Markets is a firm supporter of regional integration. To this end, we are pleased with the level of discussions that occurred at the recent JAMPRO Trade Mission to Guyana. It is these partnerships that will help to forge stronger relationships with our Guyanese neighbours and enable collective dialogue that will facilitate enhanced growth and development for both regions. We look forward to continuing conversations on our return with the JAMPRO team.”

With the expected increase in workforce needs in Guyana, Minister Hill seized the opportunity to highlight the capacity building potential of HEART NSTA to deliver the National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET) certification, and stressed Jamaica’s ability to supply short term technically skilled personnel to support the Guyanese expansion.

“We will explore designing a skills exchange programme to enhance the Guyanese talent pool,” he noted.

Guyana’s workforce needs will reach 2.5 million in the next three years, from a population base of 790,000.

Richard Rambarran, President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce, opined that Guyana’s workforce needs will reach 2.5 million in the next three years, from a population base of 790,000. This presents expansive opportunities for an increased demand in food from which Jamaica’s agribusiness sector and its players could benefit. This also presents an opportunity to export processed goods, explore joint ventures with Guyanese entities to utilise raw materials and create synergies along the supply chain for the mutual benefit of Jamaica and Guyana.

Guyana’s current building boom requires an expansion of the building industry. Jamaican contractors and developers with access to capital can find opportunities in this expansion, generating financial gains for Jamaica while supporting the infrastructure growth of Guyana.

The possibilities for the building boom are clear – 12 hotels are under construction, one of which is financed by a Jamaican institution and built by a Jamaican contractor. 20,000 houses are also expected to be built per year over the next few years to support the expected talent influx. In addition, some 700 km of roads are being built, including a major highway to northeast Brazil.

Additional opportunities abound in the supply of building material and technical building expertise.

The growing need for capital to finance this building boom is more than the local institutions can provide, opening opportunities for Jamaica’s sophisticated private equity, debt financiers, micro credit, and stock exchanges to market their products and services. “The financial services industry in Guyana is replete with opportunities for Jamaican business acumen and financial know how to thrive. The Jamaican institutions can play a key role in bringing structured financial instruments to Guyana and support transformation of the sector,” said Minister Hill.

Underpinning Guyana’s vision to be the breadbasket of the Caribbean is the need for greater accreditation of its laboratories and food processing factories. JANAAC, Jamaica’s National Agency for Accreditation, has already certified four Guyanese agencies and is researching the potential to establish a satellite office there to capitalise on the new opportunities that were explored with Guyanese agencies and organisations.

Commenting on her experience in a post-mission survey, a member of the Jamaican delegation, Kareema Muncey, CEO, Home Choice Enterprise Ltd, said, “It was overwhelmingly great and well organised; it was a new experience. The mission connecting Guyana to Jamaica was a great idea for networking and business opportunities.”

The spirit of collaboration and the opportunities unearthed were excellent

The trade mission included senior business representatives from the financial services, food processing, HR solutions and construction management fields, all of whom had fruitful discussions with Guyanese counterparts. The mission has improved on the established foundation between the two nations and strengthened business ties between Jamaica and Guyana for mutual economic benefit.

President of JAMPRO, Diane Edwards stated, “The spirit of collaboration and the opportunities unearthed were excellent and reinforced the need for deeper regional integration as the shared benefits will enhance the region on a whole.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecast that Guyana’s overall real gross domestic product (GDP) for 2022 will grow at a rate of 57.8 per cent. Much of this is underpinned by the development of a nascent oil and gas sector, and spin-off developments.

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Jamaica Economy to Return to Pre-COVID-19 Output Levels by 2023

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PHOTO: YHOMO HUTCHINSON
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke (at podium), addresses the Rotary Club of Kingston’s weekly luncheon at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, on Thursday (October 6). Listening (from left) are the Club’s Vice President, Sixto Coy, and President Karsten Johnson.

Data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) indicate that the country is on track to returning to pre-COVID-19 levels of economic output by 2023.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke, said that achieving the target will place Jamaica “far ahead of our peers in the Caribbean region”.

“We are at 97 per cent of our pre-COVID levels of economic output. We went all the way down to 82 per cent, [but are] back up to about 97 per cent. [This] is related to the fact that we were able to maintain macro stability through the crisis,” Dr. Clarke said.

Consequent on the strong economic performance, S&P Global Ratings on Wednesday (October 5) affirmed Jamaica’s ‘B+’ rating, while maintaining its ‘Stable’ outlook for the economy.

Minister Clarke, who was addressing the Rotary Club of Kingston’s luncheon at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Thursday (October 6), said that gross domestic product (GDP) data from the STATIN show that the economy is “performing better than planned”.

STATIN reported that the economy grew by 4.8 per cent during the April to June 2022 quarter, relative to the corresponding period last year.

This was attributed to a 7.2 per cent increase in the Services Industry, despite the Goods Producing Industry contracting by two percentage points.

The Services Industry out-turn resulted from improved performances in all eight subsectors.

‘Hotels and Restaurants’ led the way with 56 per cent, while ‘Wholesale and Retail Trade, Repairs, and Installation of Machinery & Equipment’, rose by 7.6 per cent.

Other notable out-turns were ‘Transport, Storage and Communication’, up 5.7 per cent; ‘Real Estate, Renting and Business Activities’, up 2.1 per cent; ‘Electricity and Water Supply’, up two per cent; and ‘Finance and Insurance Services’, up 1.1 per cent.

Dr. Clarke noted that as persons were able to return to work, consequent on the gradual reopening of the economy, Jamaica commenced experiencing recovery at a “very fast clip”, with eight per cent growth in 2022, and a 4.5 per cent projection for this year.

“As a result of this recovery, we are experiencing overperformance, which is always a good thing. We have a lot of work to do. But there is no doubt about our trajectory… and [based on] the fact that we have been able to recover so quickly… we can look forward [to] the fruits of the stability that we enjoy,” he said.

 

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