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VIDEO: Observer Business Leader Awards honours diaspora - News on Astini News

& THE Observer yesterday took a bold step towards reaching out to entrepreneurs within the Jamaican diaspora with its announcement that this year's Business Leader Awards programme will exclusively highlight the success of Jamaicans who have been operating businesses within their adopted countries.

& The newspaper's deputy chairman Adam Stewart told members of the media at a press launch to announce details of the programme that the Observer hoped, through its focus on the diaspora at large, to sow the seeds for greater economic co-operation between the local business sector and Jamaicans abroad who have been able to amass capital through successful businesses.

& "There are lots of local opportunities for engagement of our entrepreneurs living abroad," said Stewart. "We want to reintroduce some of these individuals to the Jamaican economy and tap into the resources that they have to offer."

& The press conference took place at the Observer headquarters on Beechwood Avenue in Kingston.

& Ten entrepreneurs from the list of 60 that the awards search committee identified will be nominated. The awards presentation will take place on Wednesday, November 30 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, while the stories about the nominees will appear each Wednesday (starting today) and Sunday in the Observer.

& Stewart, who himself has spent nine years living abroad, pointed to the intense sense of nationalism shared by those within the diaspora, and stressed that most had been forced to leave our shores to seek a better life.

& "When you listen to some of the tremendous success stories that so many Jamaicans have had, many of them have left Jamaica by circumstance and didn't want to leave," he noted.

& The Observer awards programme coincides with plans by the Government to bridge the gap with the diaspora, a fact that was stressed by Audrey Marks, the country's top diplomat in Washington.

& "More and more we are realising that the diaspora represents a tremendous socio-economic force for Jamaica that we really need to tap into, and programmes like these will start the process," said Marks, who has been instrumental in identifying potential nominees in the USA through the embassy's collaboration with the Observer.

& Marks said that the embassy was currently building an extensive database on Jamaican-Americans in the USA, including the estimated 20,000 Jamaicans who are added to the list each year.

& The Business Leader programme is being sponsored by three institutions -- each of which shares the Observer's goal of helping to promote entrepreneurism in Jamaica.

& "What the Jamaica Observer is doing fits nicely with what we want to do," noted Dr Dana Morris Dixon, vice-president of planning and corporate development at Jampro, one of the sponsors. "We know that we have very successful people in the diaspora and we believe that this is something that we have to tap into. So in developing our diaspora business strategy, what we want to do is use these influential members of the diaspora that will be a part of this entire process," she added.

& It was for precisely this reason that Appleton Estate and Digicel are collaborating with the Observer on the awards, according to executives from these sponsoring companies.

& "We had no difficulty signing on because we know the value and we want to be associated with something telling like this," declared Andrew Price, marketing manager of J Wray & Nephew, owner of the Appleton brand.

& Brian Bennett-Easy, CEO at Digicel Business, was similarly upbeat about his company's involvement in the awards as a sponsor.

& "The decision to honour members of the diaspora is powerful and very timely, as Jamaicans around the world have been indicating increased interest and desire to actively participate in the socio-political course of the country," noted Bennett-Easy. "Of particular significance is the way that Jamaicans in the diaspora have contributed to the development of the country through significant capital investments which have created jobs and the provision of cutting-edge services. Digicel Business identifies very strongly with this, given our own investment in ICT and entrepreneurship in Jamaica over the last few years."

& The CEO of the Jamaica Observer Ed Khoury said that the newspaper was hoping to motivate other Jamaicans through the success stories of the nominees.

& "This is the strength of this programme," he noted. "When we nominate these individuals and tell their stories, it's a significant benefit for all of the aspiring entrepreneurs to see what others have accomplished and what is possible."

& Two members of the award selection committee participated in the press conference: former Business Leader Ryland Campbell, and former nominee Audrey Hinchcliffe.

& Moses Jackson, founding editor of the Business Observer and founder of the awards programme, said he was heartened by the strong enthusiasm of the nominees in participating in the programme, and their enduring sense of nationalism.

& Read the story of nominee 1, Richard M Powell, on Pages 16B & 17B of today's Business Observer.

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