NCB Level Up Grant Programme for Unemployed Jamaicans

 

Our Level Up Grant programme provides grants for short-term digital courses to unemployed Jamaicans who have not had the benefit of tertiary-level studies. These courses are designed to equip them with skills that put them in a position to gain employment and/or start their own online ventures.

To date, NCB has invested over $45M in the digital upskilling of over 6,000 Jamaicans who ordinarily would not have access to this form of training and further contribute to Jamaica’s human capital in digital careers.

This year, we are continuing the commitment to engage 3,000 future digital entrepreneurs through training partners Internet Income Jamaica and iCreate Institute.

 

Eligibility

To qualify for a Level Up Grant, applicants must:

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Supreme Ventures Business Hub

The SVS Business Hub, a subsidiary of the Supreme Ventures Group was born out of the need to provide business solutions pertinent to entrepreneurs and medium-sized businesses. Coupled with industry knowledge and decades of experience in guiding market penetration, growth and value, the SVS Business Hub’s cadre of professionals leverage its expertise and experience on a variety of disciplines across all industries.

Vision

To become the premier provider of business support services by leveraging our professionalism, expertise and strategic partnerships.

Mission

To facilitate the expansion of medium-sized Jamaican businesses

Aims & Objectives

  • To facilitate the growth of entrepreneurs
  • To provide business and professional services to Jamaican and Regional businesses.
  • To grow businesses and the Jamaican economy
  • To maximise shareholder value
  • To grow profit

Management Team

The SV Business Hub’s management model hits right at the core of expertise, results-oriented and excellent customer service.

Led by Chief Executive Officer, Dennis Chung, the SVS Business Hub’s team of professionals with decades of senior management experience are laser-focused on achieving clearly defined targets to ensure that medium-sized businesses are provided with dedicated resources of talent, expertise and excellent customer service.

Services

Accounting:

Collections
Financial Statements
Cash Management
Business Intelligence
Tax planning and reporting
Budgeting

Accounting:

Social and Digital Media Management
Public Relations
Event Planning and Implementation
Advertising and Promotion

Information Technology:

Cloud/Disaster Recovery (DR) Management
IT Security
Infrastructure Management
Digital Transformation
Help Desk/User Support

Corporate Secretarial Services:

Company Incorporation & Business Registration
Filings at the Companies Office
Registration of Trademarks

Human Resources and Administration:

Payroll services
Writing HR policy documents
Managing benefits
Recruitment and Training Services

 

Toronto, Canada - June 19, 2018: Entrance of Scotiabank head office in Toronto’s financial district, a Canadian multinational bank.

Scotia Group Jamaica Limited

MRS. JACQUELINE SHARP

CEO:


 

Mrs. Sharp was appointed President & CEO of Scotia Group Jamaica Limited effective September 1, 2013. She was also appointed to the Board of Directors of the Company and its leading subsidiary The Bank of Nova Scotia Jamaica Limited effective September 1, 2013.

Mrs. Sharp joined Scotiabank in December 1997 and over the past 15 years has held progressively senior roles in the areas of Treasury, Finance, Private Banking, and Insurance. She held the position as General Manager of Scotia Jamaica Life Insurance Company from 2003 to 2009 and in September 2009 she was appointed Chief Financial Officer of the Group. In April 2011 Mrs. Sharp assumed additional responsibilities as Chief Administrative Officer and in April 2013 was appointed Executive Vice President, CFO, and CAO.

Mrs. Sharp holds a Bachelor of Science (Bsc) degree with honors in Accounting from the University of the West Indies, is a CFA Charter Holder, and has successfully completed the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) examinations.

She serves as a member of the Boards of Scotia Investments Jamaica Limited, Scotia Jamaica Building Society (effective September 1, 2013), Scotia Asset Management (Jamaica) Limited, and Scotia Jamaica Microfinance Company Limited.

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JN Bank

CEO: EARL JARRETT

Hon., OJ, CD, JP, CStJ, Hon. LL.D, Hon. EdD, FCA, MSc


Earl Jarrett was appointed General Manager of the Jamaica National Building Society in October 1999.  He joined the Society in 1997 as Executive with responsibility for Compliance and Overseas Subsidiaries.  Mr. Jarrett was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the restructured mutual holding company, The Jamaica National Group Limited in February 2017.

He is a Director on the Boards of all local and overseas companies and entities of the JN Group and serves as  Chairman of the Jamaica Automobile Association (Services) Limited and the overseas subsidiary companies of JN Money Services Limited.

A Chartered Accountant and graduate of The University of the West Indies, Mr. Jarrett serves on the boards of several external organisations. He is:

  • Chairman, Jamaica Cancer Society; National Council of Jamaica, Order of St John, Jamaican Diaspora Foundation, The University of the West Indies Mona Campus Council and Mona Geoinformatics Institute
  • Director, The Gleaner Company’s UK and North American Boards; Edna Manley College Arts Foundation
  • Trustee, Dudley Grant Memorial Trust, the YWCA Trust, Caribbean Council (UK)
  • Trustee Member/Secretary, FIA Foundation

He is former Deputy Chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and Jamaica Investments Promotions (JAMPRO); former Council Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica and past President of the Rotary Club of New Kingston.  He has served as a member of the National Task Force on Political Tribalism, and as Honorary Secretary of The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ).

In 2008, Mr. Jarrett received the Order of Distinction, in the rank of Commander (CD), from the Government of Jamaica for service to the financial sector; and the Pelican Award from The University of the West Indies Alumni, Florida Chapter, for outstanding work in business development among the Jamaican Diaspora in the USA.

In 2010, he was recognized by the American Foundation of The University of the West Indies as a 2010 recipient of the Caribbean Luminary Awards; received the Pelican Award from the Jamaican Chapter of The University of the West Indies Alumni, for significant contribution to the development of the University and to Jamaica; and the Doctor of Laws (LL.D) degree, honoris causa, from the University of Technology Jamaica.  In 2011, Mr. Jarrett received a second Doctor of Laws (LL.D) degree from The University of the West Indies.

He was awarded the Kiwanis Club of New Kingston’s Man of Excellence award and recognized as the Jamaica Institute of Management (JIM)/Gleaner 2011 Manager of the Year in 2012, and subsequently inducted as a JIM Fellow.

Mr. Jarrett was appointed a member of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica in 2013; and in 2014, was inducted into the Council of Volunteer Social Services (CVSS) Hall of Fame for his contribution to the community.  In 2015, he was recognized as the Gleaner Honour Awardee for exceptional voluntary service in 2014, and was the 2015 inductee for The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) Private Sector Hall of Fame.

In 2016, Mr. Jarrett was presented with the Visionary Award by the Mavis & Ephraim Hawthorne Golden Krust Foundation (New York) and Distinguished Member Award by The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica (ICAJ).

He was again recognized by the Government of Jamaica in 2018 with his appointment to the Order of Jamaica (OJ), for his exceptional contribution to the banking and financial sectors, public service, and volunteerism.  Mr. Jarrett was conferred with his third honorary doctorate, the Doctor of Education in Leadership (honoris causa), by The Mico University College in December 2018.

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Coldbush Organics

AVERELLE FRENCH & MARIA WILSON

CEOs


Products: Chocolate Bars, Cocoa Powder, Cocoa Butter, Chocolate Spread, Bulk Chocolate

Joining the Bold Ones has exposed us to a wider audience, which is quite significant for us.

Averelle French

Avarelle French started this business to make a difference and wanted to do something in farming. He owned lands in Jamaica and had a desire to work on these lands for the benefit of the community. He believes that once he goes through this experience, his business will generate a lot of interest.

Products: Six Jamaican fruit flavors: coconut, guava, hibiscus tea (sorrel), June plum, mango, and pineapple

“Being a part of the Bold Ones has helped with exposure for our business. We’ve seen an uptick in our company’s sales already, so we’re excited.

Marie Wilson

Marie Wilson attended Norman Manley Law School for just over a summer before she became ‘iced-cream out’. It was too hot and the kind of ice cream available was too heavy. She recalls telling her sister about how she missed the treat back home in New York called Italian ice. She could not find anything like it here and 3 years later decided enough was enough and decided to start Dejafrut.

Being a part of the Bold Ones has helped with brand awareness, which is key for any small business. We are looking forward to any advice and wisdom any established company can offer. We also brought samples of our product for everyone to try.

Maria Wilson
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Grace Keneddy

DON WEBBY

CEO


When Don Wehby joined GraceKennedy Ltd in 1995 his avowed mission was to become its group financial officer.

It’s not that the 32-year-old chartered accountant lacked high-level ambition or a transcendent sense of destiny; indeed, given the size and complexity of the organisation, the chief financial officer was a prestigious title that came with weighty accountability.

“I was very grateful for the opportunity to work with such a reputable company,” declares Wehby. “My goal was to become group financial officer and I was very fulfilled in that role.”

That may very well be the case. But somewhere in the recesses of his mind, this executive must have cast his eyes on loftier perch within the establishment. The blistering speed with which he scaled the corporate ladder and his strategic positioning on his way up belie any assertion to the contrary.

Sixteen years hence, the board of directors would undoubtedly have known who and what they were getting when they appointed the now seasoned executive to replace their chief executive officer, Douglas Orane, whom they lost to retirement.

Wehby’s curricula vitae at Grace read like that of a man in a hurry to get somewhere; he acknowledges as much in recounting his journey through the echelons of the corporate giant.

“I quickly rose through the ranks to the post of group chief financial officer and in 1999 the role of chief operating officer (COO) for the Financial Services Division was added to my portfolio,” he tells me.

The upshot is that Wehby’s imprints that are now etched into some of the transformative decisions at Grace pre-date his 2011 appointment as the CEO of the conglomerate.

1997 is a convenient point of departure for a trace of his ascendancy at the company; this was the year he got a coveted seat on Grace’s mainboard and with it came the title of deputy finance director.

Subsequent promotions were in rapid succession. Group chief financial officer twinned with the chief operating officer in charge of the Financial Services Division placed the upwardly mobile Wehby in charge of a portfolio that was of increasing strategic value to the company — banking, insurance, and investment services.

In this role, the executive had direct oversight responsibility of Grace’s listing on the stock exchanges in Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, and the Eastern Caribbean. He also led the acquisition of the remaining minority interests in First Global Bank, a move that made this institution a wholly-owned subsidiary of the parent firm.

This job also gave Wehby an important platform to demonstrate his managerial efficacy, and the result-oriented executive did so with aplomb. Over five years, he drove pre-tax profit at the Financial Services Division by more than 400 percent — from $280 million in 2000 to $1.417 billion in 2005.

Wehby confesses that the focus and single-mindedness of purpose that produced these impressive results were not personal features that he brought with him to Grace. His transformation followed a series of discussions with the company’s executive chairman.

“Douglas Orane challenged me to think ahead of where I had initially seen myself,” he lets on. “I was subsequently placed on the succession plan role and I used every opportunity to learn from those who were around me, and settled within myself that I was ready to take on the mantle of leading this outstanding organisation.”

For those watching the boardroom intrigues and corporate movements at Grace — some of which spilled over into the public arena — it became clear by the mid-2000s that Wehby had been placed on an inside track that had a single irreversible destination.

His 2005 promotion as the group financial officer and critically, the head of the newly created strategic planning unit, was followed within a year by yet another big move. This time he was given the dual role of deputy CEO of GraceKennedy and the chief executive officer of a subsidiary, GK Investments.

Wehby initially sent shock waves throughout corporate Jamaica with his 2007 announcement that he was resigning from Grace to join the Bruce Golding Administration as Government senator and minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service.

But analysts and market watchers quickly settled around a narrative that this was not just an act of selfless patriotism because, whether intended or not, the tactical move would have the effect of burnishing his credentials for an eventual return for the top job at GraceKennedy when the then holder reached the mandatory retirement age.

So by October 2009 when Wehby returned to Grace to the new and expanded role of group chief operating officer, it was just a matter of when. That date came in 2011 with Orane’s retirement and no waves were created. Wehby remains the group chief executive officer of one of Jamaica’s largest corporations.

From his office on Harbour Street, downtown Kingston, the CEO oversees a conglomerate that has undergone multiple makeovers during the past several decades both in response to market changes and in pursuit of a decades-old vision that he himself had a hand in crafting.

The multi-faceted company has as a core mission, that of generating 50 percent of its profit and 60 percent of gross revenue from outside of Jamaica.

In its latest iteration, the firm is divided into two very broad areas, but as a practical matter, there are four discreet operational divisions.

Food trading once dominated the company’s balance sheet but beginning about 30 years ago that business line started to take backstage to financial services. However, in more recent times, the division has had some resurgence, but with an emphasis now on hard currency earnings.

With this new and urgent focus, GraceKennedy has been taking its manufacturing plants and retail outlets directly into the overseas markets where the customers are and therefore where the hard currency can be mined.

AS CEO, Wehby has been a primary driver behind this aggressive thrust into foreign markets.

“I led the acquisition of LaFe in 2014, a Hispanic brand, and we are now an international player,” he notes, pointing out that the Hispanic market in the United States has an estimated annual value of US$5 billion.

“The increased presence of our Grace brands in major retailers such as Walmart and Publix, and our acquisition of LaFe in the USA (now GK Foods (USA) LLC), is a game-changer for the GraceKennedy Group,” he adds. “This will serve as a springboard for further growth of our business in North America through one of the fastest-growing segments in the US — the Hispanic food and beverage market. We now have offices in New Jersey, Florida, and Atlanta.”

The takeover of WT Foods in the UK (now Grace Foods UK) is similarly aimed at hard currency earning, and this move has had the positive spill-over effect of boosting Grace’s presence elsewhere in Europe and in Africa.

“I am extremely proud of our expansion into Africa where I have been told, there is a similarity in the taste profiles (we both love spicy foods),” says Wehby. “Our beverages have been well received and today our Grace mackerel and Mighty Malt are very popular. Due to the popularity of the Grace brand in Africa, we were also able to open our own company in Ghana in 2014. We are also as far away as Russia, in over 85 stores.”

In 2015, Grace struck a distribution deal with AriZona beverages, an arrangement that Wehby describes as “a major stepping stone in getting the Grace brand out there”.

As part of their new push into exports, the directors committed the company’s capital to enhance value-added along the input chain all the way from the farm to the retail end of the business. So, for example, the firm has been partnering with Jamaican farmers to produce pepper mash, an important intermediary ingredient that is used to import.

Here is how Wehby explains this arrangement: “Up to a few years ago we were importing pepper mash from Costa Rica to keep up with the demand. We decided that we wanted to do this locally, so we contacted several local farmers and told them we would partner with them to supply us with products. We also assisted them with training and inputs such as fertilizer. This has worked very well and we are not only exporting to other Caribbean islands, but to our own factory in Wales and as far away as Sweden.”

Yet its recent acquisition of Consumer Brands has again deepened its footprint in a distributorship. That deal landed it some of the most coveted lines of products on the market — Proctor & Gamble.

“This is something that we are very excited about as we believe this is a natural fit for GraceKennedy,” beams Wehby. “Of course, there are other deals in the pipeline and we continue to look out for growth opportunities as we move towards achieving our vision of becoming a global consumer group.”

The conglomerate’s banking arm, its general insurance services, and what it calls its money services division, together with trading collectively account for the $90-billion in sales and $4.5-billion net profit earned last year.

At the end of December, the group had assets of $126 billion and shareholder equity of $43.5 billion. It currently employs 3,500 individuals.

Wehby’s impact at Grace has been seamless, even as he moved up the ranks over his 22 years with the organisation.

It was he who led the charge for the company to acquire Trafalgar Commercial Bank, launching it into the commercial banking space.

“I made a very bold decision which the board at the time approved, despite their reservations,” says the CEO.

Grace paid $8.5 million for 55 percent of the bank which had a staff count at the time of 22. Today, most Jamaicans are probably unaware of its relatively humble beginnings or that it was Trafalgar Commercial that gave birth to First Global, which now boasts assets of over $52 billion, nearly $8 billion in shareholder equity, and has a workforce of 300.

Wehby points to the importance of teamwork to the success of the sprawling conglomerate that he leads.

“I am very proud of the team that we have built at GraceKennedy and the work we are doing together,” he says. “All of my successes throughout the years would not have been possible without my very dedicated and fantastic team who are located not only in Jamaica but worldwide (Caribbean, North America, Europe, and Africa). Together we work as a team doing not only what is good for GraceKennedy but also what is good for Jamaica.”

Again, given its complexity, having clearly defined structures in place is critical to the proper functioning of this organisation, and Grace has a multi-tiered management and decision-making arrangement with Wehby at the helm.

As CEO, he reports directly to the chairman — Professor Gordon Shirley — and the main board with whom he says he enjoys “an excellent relationship” — another essential feature for the effective management of the company.

“Our board consists of mostly external directors (both locally and overseas). I am in constant contact with our board chairman, Prof Shirley, our past chairman and CEO Douglas Orane, and the other external directors who always make themselves available to provide guidance.”

For important decisions, discussions are held at the level of the business unit, then at the executive committee which is chaired by the CEO. This committee is made up of CEOs of Grace Foods Domestic, GK Foods International, GK Financial Group, and First Global Bank. The other participants are the CFO, general counsel, and chief HR officer.

“The committee conducts the necessary due diligence,” the CEO explains. “We also spend a lot of time on risk management as well. After the necessary reviews are completed and depending on the authorized limits, proposals are taken to the subsidiary boards or the mainboard for approval. There is a well-defined, disciplined, and structured approach to consensus-building and decision-making. I take this process very seriously and lead two major retreats each year with our senior management teams to discuss and outline the strategic direction and plan for the coming year, within the framework of the 2020 vision.”

Driven by his passion for sports, coupled with his recognition of its developmental possibilities, Wehby moved Grace towards committing millions of dollars each year to sponsor the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys’ & Girls’ Championships.

He says he sees the sponsorship not as an expense, but “as an investment in our young people, the future of Jamaica”. He adds: “When you see athletes like Usain Bolt, and GraceKennedy brand ambassadors Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Hansle Parchment, we are very proud to know that we have a hand in shaping their lives.”

The CEO has a similar perspective on the charity work to which the company commits millions of dollars each year, as well as the role it continues to play in the redevelopment of downtown Kingston.

Grace is now investing US$25 million in a new corporate headquarters in that section of the city, a signal of its continued role in urban renewal and, according to Wehby, “that we intend to be here for many more years”.

Looking back at his early journey from Desnoes and Geddes to Grace, Wehby singles out one corporate personality — OK Melhado — as a mentor who had a major positive impact on him.

“I look up to him for so many reasons, including the fact that he is one of the most ethical and savvy businessmen you will meet anywhere,” says Wehby. “He is very unassuming and taught me the virtues of humility in business.”

Wehby is currently a non-aligned senator, having been named to that position by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

During his first round in Government, he was instrumental in getting the Golding Administration to sign on to the tax incentives that were foundational to the establishment of the Junior Stock Exchange in 2010.

“I played an integral role in the establishment,” he says, pointing out that the junior exchange “is doing well today as an engine of growth, allowing companies to improve their performance and governance while creating another channel for investors to participate in the stock market”.