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Africa meets the Caribbean Trade Mission: Jamaica – Day 4

The Office of the Mayor of Kingston:

On Thursday 24th January the Africa meets the Caribbean trade mission paid a courtesy call on Her Worship the Mayor of Kingston Councillor Angela Brown-Burke and the Town Clerk Town Clerk Mr Errol Greene JP. and at her office.

Her Worship The Mayor of Kingston Councillor Angela Brown-Burke

Her Worship The Mayor of Kingston Councillor Angela Brown-Burke

The trade mission team that greeted the Mayor comprised Mr Bola Akindele Group Managing Director, Courteville Business Solutions PLC, Mr Femi Niyi, Executive Director ( Projects , Strategy and Research, Courteville Business Solutions PLC,  Mr Wale Sonaike,Deputy Managing Director (AutoReg Franchise), Mr Wole Oyewo, Courteville’s Communications consultant, Mr Del Atah, Managing Director Zeraxis, Mr Clyde Baker, Chairman Priority Group International and director CENUK: Ms Claire Jackson Operations Manager, CENUK and the CaribDirect.com team.

Claire Jackson, Femi Niyi, Wale Sonaike and Courteville MD Bola Akindele

Claire Jackson, Femi Niyi, Wale Sonaike and Courteville MD Bola Akindele

Mr Bola Akindele took the opportunity to commence proceedings by thanking the Mayor for receiving his party from Nigeria. He praised the efforts of Priority First UK and their affiliate the Caribbean Enterprise Network (CENUK) for making the trade mission possible. He said, ‘I bring you greetings from the Village…as you know you all come from Ebo stock.’ to which the Mayor agreed and laughed heartily.

Courteville GMD Bola Akindele and Her Worship the Mayor Cllr Angela Brown-Burke

Courteville GMD Bola Akindele and Her Worship the Mayor Cllr Angela Brown-Burke

Bola suggested that the challenges of Jamaica are very much the same as those in Nigeria and this presents a unique opportunity for Jamaica to benefit from the many successes Courteville Business Solutions PLC has achieved over the years. Though he recognised the nature of the visit to the Mayor’s Office being one premised on establishing cordial relations, he was curious about the general workings of the organisation and gleaning some idea of the commercial challenges that Courteville may be best placed to provide solutions to.

Town Clerk Errol Greene listens intently alongside the Mayor

Town Clerk Errol Greene listens intently alongside the Mayor

Her Worship welcomed the delegation and said it was hard to properly welcome the trade mission on this the last day of the visit to Jamaica. She confirmed her understanding that Courteville Business Solutions PLC were keen to establish offices in Jamaica and suggested Kingston be the base for their operations. She said, ‘We are working to pride ourselves on being the leading and innovative Council anywhere in the world…not just Jamaica…

Samantha McGregor, Administrator mayor’s Office

Samantha McGregor, Administrator mayor’s Office

As a municipality part of our remit is to ensure our businesses are adequately facilitated…local economic development is paramount and therefore any activity that is going to add to growth, increase GDP and so on will be welcome and supported by my office wholeheartedly’.

Mr Del Atah, Managing Director Zeraxis

Mr Del Atah, Managing Director Zeraxis

Mr Del Atah, Managing Director Zeraxis quickly alerted the Mayor to his Nigerian roots and deep Jamaican connection through his wife and provided a concise description of his business while rendering a synopsis of the specialist IT services it provides. This introduction was followed by David F. Roberts, Publisher of CaribDirect.com who outlined the remit of the organisation and its relevance to the trade mission.

The ultimate parting pose, MD Akindele and Hon. Mayor Brown-Burke

The ultimate parting pose, MD Akindele and Hon. Mayor Brown-Burke

Representing CENUK , Ms Claire Jackson, Operations Manager and coordinator of the Africa meets the Caribbean trade mission, and Jamaican by birth made it clear that Jamaica, for both personal and professional reasons was deliberately selected to be the first country to benefit from this new venture.

At this point Her Worship Councillor Brown-Burke mentioned having received a UK delegation from West Midlands UK and that there must be something good happening for Kingston and she was pleased.

The Official Group Photo

The Official Group Photo

Mr Femi Niyi, Executive Director (Projects , Strategy and Research, Courteville Business Solutions PLC, posed the question about Taxes and what method is used to collect vehicle and other municipal taxes. He described the efficiencies of Courteville’s flagship AutoReg vehicle registration and documentation program.

Her Worship Councillor Brown-Burke indicated her interest to receive further details of the many programs that Courteville offers with a view to examining their suitability and possible implementation. She pledged her support and looks forward to continuing discussions.

The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ)

The second and final meeting of the day was with President of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), the business advocacy organisation of Jamaica, Mr Christopher Zacca. Mr Zacca, one of Jamaica’s most prominent and prolific businessmen was accompanied by the Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Sandra A.C. Glasgow and Chairman of KS Chemical Distributors Ltd., Mr Elon Beckford one of Jamaica’s longest serving Councillors.

Mr Christopher Zacca, President , Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica

Mr Christopher Zacca, President , Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica

Mr Zacca set the tone of the meeting by injecting some humour which was at the expense of the charismatic, flamboyant, and playful Mr Femi Niyi who Mr Zacca suggested needed to be kept close by as he suspected he was not one to be left unsupervised. This created much laughter and made for easy introductions.

Mr Elon Beckford, Chairman KS Chemical Distributors Ltd

Mr Elon Beckford, Chairman KS Chemical Distributors Ltd

Mr Denis St Bernard, director of Priority Group International and director of the Africa meets the Caribbean Trade Mission introduced the members of the trade mission and articulated the objectives. He said given the mandate of the PSOJ that a visit to Jamaica without calling upon the leaders of the PSOJ would have been foolhardy and a significant oversight.

Mrs Sandra A.C. Glasgow, Chief Executive Officer , Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica

Mrs Sandra A.C. Glasgow, Chief Executive Officer , Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica

Mr Bola Akindele Group Managing Director, Courteville Business Solutions PLC expressed his particular delight at meeting Mr Zacca and his team and said that he has had very productive meetings over the four days in Jamaica. He painted the backdrop of the Nigerian economy and the fact that Nigeria’s market is ideal for investment given its size (162 million population- 20 million in its smallest state Lagos) and GDP growth at a rate of over 7% per annum.

MD Bola Akindele emphasising a point

MD Bola Akindele emphasising a point

The Courteville chief provided a summary of the many services and areas of particular specialisation, data management and administration and stressed that as professional and experienced data managers they can critically assess and provide bespoke systems to solve most challenges associated with the management of large banks of data. Also that he had successful meetings with the Insurance Association of Jamaica and so on.

Ms Villet Kelly-Bennett

Ms Villet Kelly-Bennett

Denis St Bernard asked the critical question of what are the starting points for a lobby for South / South trade in Jamaica. Mr Zacca responded by confirming Jamaica has traditionally looked North to North America for trade opportunities and to some extent the East to China. Mrs Glasgow mentioned the inroads Grace Kennedy Foods have made with entering the Ghanaian market successfully.

Mr Femi Niyi Executive Director Courteville Business Solutions PLC

Mr Femi Niyi Executive Director Courteville Business Solutions PLC

Mr Zacca stressed that he would be very interested to learn of the ideas Mr Akindele had in terms of elucidating what sustainable opportunities exist in Africa that could be explored long term for Jamaica. Mrs Glasgow further made the point that she thinks Jamaicans are a little timid and tend to venture into markets where there are already established connections rather than seeking to penetrate new territories. She said Grace Foods have confirmed the Ghanaian market to be extremely receptive to their products and has proven to be a worthwhile venture.

At this point Priority Group International Chairman, Mr Clyde Baker informed Mr Zacca and Mrs Glasgow of the impending trade mission to Africa in June 201 3(The Caribbean meets Africa Trade Mission) and that this would be an ideal opportunity for Jamaican companies to test the potency of their products or services in a new and vast emerging market.

Priority First UK / CENUK director Denis St Bernard and Zeraxis Managing Director Del Atah

Priority First UK / CENUK director Denis St Bernard and Zeraxis Managing Director Del Atah

Mr Akindele and Mr Niyi together immediately challenged the commercial viability of setting up in Ghana versus setting up in Nigeria by enlightening the hosts that in Ghana foreign companies cannot ‘set up shop’ in the country without having a Ghanian on the Board of Directors or holding a significant position or stake in the company.

Also that the Ghanian market is so much smaller than that of Nigeria that it boggles the mind why a Caribbean company would consider test marketing a product in a market other than one with 162 million potential consumers…

Mr Elon Beckford came to make the point that he believes it was no mistake Grace Kennedy Foods chose Ghana first but that it could be seen as an experiment preparing them to enter the Nigerian market with confidence. He also said the South / South trade opportunity is possible and would need to begin at the private sector level first through establishing the right linkages and moving from there.

Exec. Director Sandra Glasgow and President Christopher Zacca

Exec. Director Sandra Glasgow and President Christopher Zacca

However, on the political side, he said Jamaica has been talking about this for many years but the global economic circumstances today are forcing political leaders across the Caribbean to take these opportunities more seriously and we should see movement very soon.

Mr Denis St Bernard announced that Priority First UK / CENUK are in the process of planning an African Caribbean Expo in Jamaica later this year that will seek to showcase much of what the Caribbean has to offer to Africa.

The Official Group Photo

The Official Group Photo

Opportunities for trade in food, low cost housing, financial services, sports and mobile money, Mr Zacca said would be excellent for Jamaica and would like to explore in some detail the feasibility of these areas with a view to initiating arrangements to commence trade. Mr Zacca implored the delegation and more particularly Courteville Business Solutions PLC, through Mr Bola Akindele to keep the lines of communication open to ensure both parties give the discussed opportunities a fair chance at success.

Jamaica Stock Exchange:

As part of the Africa meets the Caribbean Trade Mission Mr Bola Akindele was invited to speak at the special luncheon of the Jamaica Stock Exchange at the Jamaica Pegasus in Kingston.

MD Bola Akindele and Deputy Managing Director Wale Sonaike at the Jamaica Stock Exchange Luncheon

MD Bola Akindele and Deputy Managing Director Wale Sonaike at the Jamaica Stock Exchange Luncheon

To a packed room of influential public and private sector individuals including the Minister responsible for the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. G. Anthony Hylton,MP and General Manager of the Jamaica Stock Exchange, Mrs Marlene street Forrest, Bola introduced Courteville Business Solutions PLC as a 21st Century company listed on the Nigeria Stock Exchange doing revolutionary things in business in Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Bola Akindele waiting to present to the guests

Bola Akindele waiting to present to the guests

He began by saying, ‘Greetings from the Village, Greetings from home.’ he further stated that given the population of Nigeria being 20% of the continent of Africa that Nigeria is Africa, meaning that the influence of Nigeria resides in every corner of Africa.

Bola appealing to Jamaican businessmen and women to invest in Nigeria

Bola appealing to Jamaican businessmen and women to invest in Nigeria

He expounded on the tremendous opportunities that exist in a dynamic African market, Nigeria, that is growing at a rate of 7% per annum, (far better than any European country) and the cultural and economic synergies that exist between Jamaica and Nigeria.

Bola responding to questions from the audience

Bola responding to questions from the audience

Bola suggested that the role of driving a country’s economic growth should not be the government’s but that of the private sector. Governments all over the world have being doing their best to improve their economies but with very little success while private  organisations are more robust, nimble and able to generate profit that will create investments that will ultimately lead to economic growth and development.

Priority Group International Chairman Clyde Baker posing a question

Priority Group International Chairman Clyde Baker posing a question

With Nigeria’s GDP contributing 50% of the GDP of the entire African continent, Nigeria is an economic giant that is growing constantly.  Mr Akindele affirmed that Nigerians in the United Kingdom outspent the Chinese, the Arabs, the Indians and the Russians in 2012. He was very adamant that if Jamaican businessmen and women are serious about growing their businesses they need to look to the South and not the North.

Priority First UK / CENUK director Denis St Bernard aith Jamaica Stock Exchange Managing Director Marlene Street Forrest

Priority First UK / CENUK director Denis St Bernard aith Jamaica Stock Exchange Managing Director Marlene Street Forrest

Following the presentation which was well received, Bola answered questions from the gathering and networked with the guests for sometime before meeting briefly with the Minister responsible for the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. G. Anthony Hylton,MP.

CaribDirect.com CEO, David F. Roberts, JSE Managing Director Mrs Marlene Street Forrester and CENUK Operations Manager, Ms Claire Jackson

CaribDirect.com CEO, David F. Roberts, JSE Managing Director Mrs Marlene Street Forrester and CENUK Operations Manager, Ms Claire Jackson

Bola was then given a tour of the Things Jamaican booth arranged by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation, facilitated by Mrs Marie Elizabeth Casserly, Product Development & Implementation Specialist and Mr Colin Porter, manager Technical Services. It was here that Mr Akindele felt a particular kinship with the island of Jamaica when he saw two Richard Atkinson sculptures made from papier mache that he couldn’t pass up. He stared and stared, pondered and pondered and then decided, ‘I must have those!’ That signaled the end of a great trip to Jamaica! Article and Photography by David F. Roberts

Claire Jackson, Colin Porter, Marie Elizabeth Casserly, Bola Akindele and Wale Sonaike pose at the Things Jamaican Booth where Bola bought a couple of wooden sculptures

Claire Jackson, Colin Porter, Marie Elizabeth Casserly, Bola Akindele and Wale Sonaike pose at the Things Jamaican Booth where Bola bought a couple of wooden sculptures

Bola Akindele and Minister G. Anthony Hylton, MP in discussion

Bola Akindele and Minister G. Anthony Hylton, MP in discussion

One of 2 sculptures bought by Courteville Managing Director Bola Akindele

One of 2 sculptures bought by Courteville Managing Director Bola Akindele

The other of 2 sculptures bought by Courteville Managing Director Bola Akindele

The other of 2 sculptures bought by Courteville Managing Director Bola Akindele

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Africa meets the Caribbean Trade Mission: Jamaica-Day 2

The momentum of the Africa meets the Caribbean Trade Mission in Jamaica picked up with an early morning meeting at the Small Business Association of Jamaica. This meeting coincided with a prearranged radio interview on Power Radio 106 FM where Denis St Bernard, director of Priority Group International and director of the Africa meets the Caribbean Trade Mission spoke at length with Group Managing Director, Courteville Business Solutions PLC and head of the Nigeria delegation, Mr Bola Akindele.

Dr Meredith Derby making a point to Priority First UK (CENUK) director Denis St Bernard

Dr Meredith Derby making a point to Priority First UK (CENUK) director Denis St Bernard

President of the Small Business Association of Jamaica Dr Meredith C. Hypolite Derby received the trade delegation which included Mr Denis St Bernard of Priority First UK, a subsidiary of Priority Group International; and Caribbean Enterprise Network (CENUK), Mr Bola Akindele Group Managing Director, Courteville Business Solutions PLC, Mr Femi Niyi, Executive Director ( Projects , Strategy and Research, Courteville Business Solutions PLC,  Wale Sonaike,Deputy Managing Director ( AutoReg Franchise ), Mr Del Atah, Managing Director Zeraxis, Mr Clyde Baker, Chairman Priority Group International and director CENUK: and the CaribDirect.com team.

Femi Niyi,Executive Director, Wale Sonaike,Deputy Managing Director AutoReg Franchise and Courteville Group Managing Director Bola Akindele

Femi Niyi,Executive Director, Wale Sonaike,Deputy Managing Director AutoReg Franchise and Courteville Group Managing Director Bola Akindele

Accompanying Dr Derby was small business owner and upholsterer, Mr Oswald Smith. Dr Derby wasted no time by setting the background of how Jamaican business owners, to a large extent view Nigerians given their long standing reputation for being clever and thrifty with a knack for using unconventional means to make money. She said in spite of this, she has warned her colleagues in business in Jamaica that there are many Nigerians who are honest law abiding citizens. Dr Derby drew a parallel with Columbia, widely known for cocaine production and distribution, as a country with many other valuable natural resources that account for a significant percentage of its GDP.

CENUK Trade delegation Denis St Bernard, Clyde Baker and Del Atah with Dr Derby enjoying a joke

CENUK Trade delegation Denis St Bernard, Clyde Baker and Del Atah with Dr Derby enjoying a joke

Dr Derby mentioned her delight on meeting the trade delegation outlining the many positive things happening to the Small Business Association of Jamaica including the recent acquisition of much needed funding for the organisation. She expressed her interest to explore mutually beneficial programmes  with Nigeria.

Jamaican small business owner and upholsterer Oswald Smith

Jamaican small business owner and upholsterer Oswald Smith

Mr St Bernard set thing off by introducing the team and asking each member to introduce themselves. Mr Bola Akindele took the opportunity following his introduction to acknowledge the stigma associated with his country, a situation that is gradually improving, and outlined his present experience of being the recipient of spam emails and money scams from other countries.

Mr Femi Niyi, Executive Director ( Projects , Strategy and Research ) outlining the opportunity to Dr Derby

Mr Femi Niyi, Executive Director ( Projects , Strategy and Research ) outlining the opportunity to Dr Derby

Bola went on to describe Courteville’s profile and indicated his confidence that with his 7 year tenure and the listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Courteville Business Solutions can be a credible partner to Small Business Association of Jamaica. He invited Dr Derby to carry out the necessary due diligence to provide the necessary comfort for the SBAJ’s membership to accept the opportunity to work with the Courteville Group.

‘Though the SBAJ has been in operation for many years with a fairly large membership base, the organisation suffers from a lack of funding associated with insufficient membership contributions,’ Dr Derby said. This situation has come about through competition from other membership based organisations and many members falling behind on membership dues for many reasons including financial difficulties, membership with other similar organisations, payment delinquency among others.

President of the Small Business Association of Jamaica Dr Meredith C. Hypolite Derby

President of the Small Business Association of Jamaica Dr Meredith C. Hypolite Derby

Mr Femi Niyi, Executive Director ( Projects , Strategy and Research, Courteville Business Solutions PLC quickly asked if the organisation had a comprehensive database of members, to which Dr Derby replied, ‘No.’  Femi explained how critical such a database was to a membership organisation such as the SBAJ, stating that such a system could have a very positive impact on the functionality of the organisation as well as be monetized over time for the benefit of the membership.

Mr Smith reiterated the point that small businesses are the life blood of the Jamaica economy and need to be encouraged and sustained and that any system that can assist with this would be welcome.

Trade mission director and Priority Group International director, Denis St Bernard

Trade mission director and Priority Group International director, Denis St Bernard

Bola described how effective Courteville has been as a business solutions provider with a specialty in Information Technology in Nigeria and Sierra Leone. He emphasised the point that the problems of Jamaica generally, and the SBAJ are not dissimilar to those in Nigeria, a country of 162 million people and offered a commitment to help the SBAJ overcome their challenges with a solution he’s confident will work perfectly.

Business owner Oswald Smith and President Dr Derby

Business owner Oswald Smith and President Dr Derby

Dr Derby recognised the synergies, the opportunities to transform the fortunes of the SBAJ and announced her interest to pursue further discussions with a view to entering into a formal arrangement with Courteville. She suggested that Courteville use Jamaica as the pilot for establishing trade links with the Caribbean given their intention to invest over USD$600 million over five years.

The trade delegation arrives at UTECH, greeted by Alumni relations Manager, Cheryll Massam

The trade delegation arrives at UTECH, greeted by Alumni relations Manager, Cheryll Massam

Later on that day the delegation met officials from the famed University of Technology (UTECH), the institution that has produced international star athletes such as Double Olympic 100m gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Asafa Powell, Yohan Blake and the charismatic current world record holder Usain Bolt, among others.

In attendance were UTECH representatives, Mr Hector Wheeler, Director of Advancement; Mrs Rosalea Hamilton,  Vice President of UTECH and CEO of Jamaica’s Institute of Law & Economics at the University of Technology; Sheena Johnson Brown, Acting Programme Director, BA Communications, Arts & Technology; Mathew Bryan, Director UTECH SAPNA Software Development and Cheryll Messam, Alumni Relations Manager….

Dr Rosalea Hamilton, Mr Mathew Bryan and Mr Hector Wheeler

Dr Rosalea Hamilton, Mr Mathew Bryan and Mr Hector Wheeler

Mr Del Atah, Managing Director Zeraxis presented a detailed overview of his company and emphasised the need for knowledge transfer solutions aimed at meeting the requirements of local and global companies. he focused on elucidating the synergies between Zeraxis and UTECH with a view to setting the stage for discussions to formalise relations that will see business students / young entrepreneurs providing much needed professional services to international clients.

Del Atah delivering his presentation

Del Atah delivering his presentation

In response Mr Hector Wheeler whom was thankful for the level of detail contained in the presentation suggested there was certainly scope for dialogue to arrive at an arrangement that will ultimately benefit the students. Mr Michael Steele, felt Zeraxis’ proposition should be skewed toward young entrepreneurs with a strong propensity for IT looking to access global markets should be the focus and not inexperienced students of Information Technology and business.

Cheryll Massam and Sheena Johnson Brown flank another UTECH staffer

Cheryll Massam and Sheena Johnson Brown flank another UTECH staffer

The next presentation was delivered by Mr Bola Akindele Group Managing Director, Courteville Business Solutions PLC who set out the back drop of the Nigerian education system by alluding to the fact that there are far more applicants for university places than are available something like 10,000 applications for only 1500 places.  He suggested strongly that UTECH consider allowing Courteville to provide a robust online version of the existing curriculum aimed at suitably qualified Nigerian applicants.

Mr Bola Akindele delivering his message to an attentive audience

Mr Bola Akindele delivering his message to an attentive audience

Though Bola joked about seeking out the Jamaican yams made famous for producing world class runners, for the exclusive use of Nigerian sprinters he stressed that his proposal to establish a Distance Learning platform for UTECH to access West African students, will only be successful if the price is right…that it is competitive and presents an attractive option to conventional programmes on offer at Nigerian universities.

Mr Hector Wheeler responding to presentations

Mr Hector Wheeler responding to presentations

The issue of Intellectual Property was raised by School of Business official Olubusola Akinladejo who expressed concern about the security of the content and branding of UTECH on the Courteville platform. Bola and Femi swiftly responded that they have handled very sensitive systems for banks and Courteville Business Solutions owns 50% of the Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, they manage the databases insurance companies and so on and have never had a problem…Bola assured UTECH that their specialism is IT which provides a reasonable guarantee of safety.

Dr Rosalea Hamilton making a point

Dr Rosalea Hamilton making a point

To round off this busy day the delegation were invited to attend the Eighth Regional Conference on Investments & the capital Markets hosted by the Jamaica Stock Exchange at the Jamaica Pegasus.

 

IMG_3882CaribDirect local representative Ms. Donnelle Christian, managed to meet up with Member of Parliament Mr Raymond Pryce who was delighted at the presence of the trade delegation, saying, ‘This is the kind of thing this country needs now and I look forward to details of the outcomes…’

Also on hand was General Manager of the Jamaica Stock Exchange, Mrs Marlene Street Forrest who welcomed the trade delegation and congratulated coordinator Ms Claire Jackson. The event was graced with the presence of The Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, Prime Minister of Jamaica who was the keynote speaker.

Mr Mathew Bryan making an enquiry

Mr Mathew Bryan making an enquiry

Stay online with CaribDirect for tomorrow’s report. Article and Photography by David F. Roberts

Mr Michael Steele concerned about value proposition on offer

Mr Michael Steele concerned about value proposition on offer

Ms Sheena Johnson Brown seeking clarity on a recruitment matter

Ms Sheena Johnson Brown seeking clarity on a recruitment matter

Mr Wole Oyewo, Courteville Communications consultant, Ms Claire Jackson CENUK Operations Manager and trade mission coordinator and Denis St Bernard Priority First UK director

Mr Wole Oyewo, Courteville Communications consultant, Ms Claire Jackson CENUK Operations Manager and trade mission coordinator and Denis St Bernard Priority First UK director

MP Mr Raymond Pryce with , Arnaldo Brown, Junior Foreign Affairs Minister and Mr Beris Grey Senior Vice President OC & M, Scotia Investments

MP Mr Raymond Pryce with , Arnaldo Brown, Junior Foreign Affairs Minister and Mr Beris Grey Senior Vice President OC & M, Scotia Investments

JSE's Mrs Marlene Street Forrest and CENUK's Ms Claire Jackson

JSE’s Mrs Marlene Street Forrest and CENUK’s Ms Claire Jackson

Prime Minister The Hon. Portia Simpson Miller speaking with JSE Chairman Mr Donovan Perkins

Prime Minister The Hon. Portia Simpson Miller speaking with JSE Chairman Mr Donovan Perkins

 Accommodation for CaribDirect executives sponsored by:

Jamaica Pegasus CaribDirect

Air travel for CaribDirect executives sponsored by:

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Africa meets the Caribbean Trade Mission: Jamaica-Day 1

After many months of preparation and intense negotiations between CENUK (Caribbean Enterprise Network UK)  in conjunction with it’s affiliate Priority Group International; and Nigerian company Courteville Business Solutions PLC the inaugural Africa Meets the Caribbean Trade Mission took off in Jamaica.

Denis St Bernard, Wale Sonaike, Carol Vaughan-Roberts and Bola Akindele in the lobby of Jamaica Pegasus

Denis St Bernard, Wale Sonaike, Carol Vaughan-Roberts and Bola Akindele in the lobby of Jamaica Pegasus

CaribDirect.com was on hand to witness the excitement exuded by Priority First UK,  director Denis St Bernard whose brainchild the trade mission is. He is accompanied by Clyde Baker, Director of Priority Group International and Operations Manager / Trade Mission Coordinator Claire Jackson who traveled ahead to ensure all aspects of the mission including meetings with government ministers and officials, key private sector organisations, and other special interest groups were properly coordinated.

L-R Wale Sonaike, Tokunbo Olamiju Ajilore- Chiedu, Femi Niyi, Clyde Baker, Bola Akindele, Claire Jackson, Del Ateh and Denis St Bernard

L-R Wale Sonaike, Tokunbo Olamiju Ajilore- Chiedu, Femi Niyi, Clyde Baker, Bola Akindele, Claire Jackson, Del Ateh and Denis St Bernard

The Nigerian delegation of four was led by Group Managing Director, Mr Adebola Akindele who too was very excited about being in Jamaica for the first time and the several official meetings planned over the next four days where he will present his flagship product AutoReg. Bola, as he’s affectionately known, is accompanied by his Deputy Managing Director responsible for the AutoReg Franchise, Mr Wale Sonaike and Mr Femi Niyi, Executive Director ( Projects , Strategy and Research ). The delegation is supported by a media communications  specialist Mr Oyewole Oyewo who will report on the proceedings daily.

Denis St Bernard director of Priority First UK in discussion with JAMPRO's investment Vice President Claude Duncan

Denis St Bernard director of Priority First UK in discussion with JAMPRO’s investment Vice President Claude Duncan

Also attending this maiden African / Caribbean trade mission are two businesses intending to establish strategic links with the Caribbean in areas specific to their respective business models. Zeraxis, an IT solutions company provides business advantages by combining their extensive business, project management and technical ability with client-chosen technologies and business process globally. Represented by half Nigerian and half Jamaican Mr Del Atah, Zeraxis are looking to recruit bright Jamaicans with a leaning toward IT, to work on two global projects.

JAMPRO's Manager Creative Industries, Kim Marie Spence

JAMPRO’s Manager Creative Industries, Kim Marie Spence

The final company attending the much talked about trade mission to Jamaica and Trinidad is Nigerian company Compass Consulting which forges ties between Nigerian businesses and foreign investors/partners, creating platforms for Business to Business engagement and Networking. In conversation with CaribDirect at the Jamaica Pegasus today, Monday 21st January, CEO Mrs Tokunbo Olamiju Ajilore- Chiedu spoke of her keen interest to establish strong links with enterprising Jamaican and Trinidadian businessmen and women.

JAMPRO's Manager, Knowledge Services, Vivion Scully

JAMPRO’s Manager, Knowledge Services, Vivion Scully

The first meeting of the day was with Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) at their offices in Kingston 10. The mission delegates were received by the Vice President Investment Promotion Mr Claude Duncan. Following the introduction of a few key staffers including Manager, Knowledge Services, Mr Vivion Scully, Senior Consulting Officer, Knowledge Services, Michele Marius and Manager Creative Industries, Kim Marie Spence, Mr Denis St Bernard encouraged all to introduce themselves.

Courteville Group Managing Director, Bola Akindele at JAMPRO Meeting, Jamaica

Courteville Group Managing Director, Bola Akindele at JAMPRO Meeting, Jamaica

Before long Mr Duncan launched into a comprehensive and enlightening presentation on the remit of JAMPRO which is basically to facilitate trade and investment into Jamaica. Among many items Mr Duncan spoke of the political stability of Jamaica which presents an ideal environment for investment; the importance of the three international airports; Norman Manley International Airport, Sangster International Airport and Boscobel International Airport caters to private jets; the potential and world rating of the Port of Kingston which is one of nine active ports and is the 7th largest port in the world; the road infrastructure which is under development and has proudly rendered Highway 2000 and the project to link North Coast Highway and the South Coast Highway together; and the telecommunications prowess of Jamaica owed to two main network suppliers LIME and Flow.

Zeraxis Managing Director, Del Atah at JAMPRO Meeting, Jamaica

Zeraxis Managing Director, Del Atah at JAMPRO Meeting, Jamaica

Following Mr Duncan’s presentation a vibrant question and answer session heard pointed questions from many participants including Mr Akindele who wasted no time in making the point that he is indeed sold on the idea of doing long term business in Jamaica premised in large part by the knowledge gained from the JAMPRO investment chief’s presentation. He emphasised his confidence in doing business in Jamaica by joking, ‘I’m probably more Jamaican than Denis St Bernard…’

Professor Neville Ying at JAMPRO Meeting, Jamaica

Professor Neville Ying at JAMPRO Meeting, Jamaica

He further made the point that there is no discernible reason why Nigeria and the Caribbean could not trade effectively given our genetic and cultural similarities stressing the point that his company Courteville Business Solutions successfully rolled out their AutoReg product in the city of Lagos which is the size of Jamaica but with a population of over 20 million. His argument here is that if it could work in such a densely populated and intrinsically complicated market, it can work in the Caribbean.

Tokunbo Olamiju Ajilore- Chiedu, CEO Compass Consulting at JAMPRO Meeting, Jamaica

Tokunbo Olamiju Ajilore- Chiedu, CEO Compass Consulting at JAMPRO Meeting, Jamaica

Bola also made the observation that we in African and the Caribbean do not have to follow the ideals of the Western world to build our economies and businesses, that we are clever enough and resourceful enough to chart our own course to success.

Claire Jackson CENUK Operations Manager and trade mission coordinator at JAMPRO meeting Jamaica

Claire Jackson CENUK Operations Manager and trade mission coordinator at JAMPRO meeting Jamaica

Bola pledged his intent to invest in Jamaica without receiving a penny from the government of Jamaica in advance with the view to being paid when the project takes off. He extended a firm and sincere invitation for JAMPRO to visit Nigeria at the earliest opportunity to take advantage of educational (Online Distance Learning) and trade opportunities.

Minister / Head of Chancery Nigeria High Commission jamaica, Umar Z. Salisu

Minister / Head of Chancery Nigeria High Commission jamaica, Umar Z. Salisu

The mission then moved quickly over to the Nigeria High Commission where they were met by the Deputy High Commissioner and two officers Umar Z. Salisu Minister/ Head of Chancery and Martin Obafemi Olutola, Minister. The Deputy made the distinction about the work ethic and pace at which things are done in both Nigeria and Jamaica, highlighting the point that in Nigeria things are done quickly and that the trade delegation should manage their expectations in terms of realising tangible results from this mission.

Chairman Priority Group Int'l, ClydeBaker at Nigeria High Commission Jamaica

Chairman Priority Group Int’l, ClydeBaker at Nigeria High Commission Jamaica

He applauded Bola and his team for as he put it, ‘Making the work of the Nigeria High Commission much easier.’ He also committed the Nigeria High Commission to support and work with the trade mission and took time to schedule further meetings with certain participants for later in the day.

Delegates pose with Nigeria Deputy High Commissioner outside Nigeria High Commission Jamaica

Delegates pose with Nigeria Deputy High Commissioner outside Nigeria High Commission Jamaica

Stay with us for daily reports on this Africa meets the Caribbean trade mission.

Article and Photography by Davis F.Roberts

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Africa Meets the Caribbean – Trade Mission

Priority Group International through its United Kingdom affiliate and Social enterprise, Caribbean Enterprise Network (CENUK) have embarked on a trade mission to Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago from January 20th to 29th 2013.

Comprising 2 Nigerian companies and four British companies this mission is endorsed by Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) and Trinidad & Tobago’s (InvesTT).

PARTICIPATING COMPANIES

Courteville Business Solutions Plc

Bola Akindele – GMD Courteville Business Solutions PLC

Bola Akindele – GMD Courteville Business Solutions PLC

Courteville a leading African software solution Company, based in Lagos Nigeria is listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and ISO 9001:2008 certified with its principal focus being the development of e-business solutions for process re-engineering in all sectors.

Courteville is the patent holder of the AutoRegTM Motor Vehicle Administration Documentation (AutoRegTM MVAD) business solution, through which it created the largest data capture and process platform in sub-Sahara Africa.

The company has honed its expertise and knowledge in the development of IT solutions that effectively solve endemic and peculiar challenges such as counterfeiting, forgery, revenue leakages, touting, unreliable databases, delivery time, etc.

These solutions, which are all web-based and extremely cost effective to deploy, include the flagship and highly successful AutoRegTM MVAD, AutoInsure (3rd Party motor insurance retail platform), AutoReg InspectorTM (mobile phone based remote verification application), AutoRegTM Enumerator (mobile phone based remote data capture application), Parent-School Education Administration & Management Solution (P-SEAMS), Courteville Regulated Product Administration & Monitoring Solution and the Central Insurance Policies Database Solution.

The Courteville team lead by Mr. Bola Akindele, will be in Jamaica from 20th – 24th January, 2013 to engage with Sector leaders, Key Operators and various organisations and government  officials in forging this hopefully successful alliance. www.courtevillegroup.com

Compass Consulting

Mrs Tokunbo Olamiju Ajilore- Chiedu, CEO Compass Consulting

Mrs Tokunbo Olamiju Ajilore- Chiedu, CEO Compass Consulting

Compass Consulting is a company forging ties between Nigerian businesses and foreign investors/partners, creating platforms for Business to Business engagement and Networking.

Compass works with the Bank of Industry, the National Association of Small Scale Industrialists and a host of other partners to develop the capacities of SMEs to export through annual workshops and business diagnostic sessions.

They aid in capacity building of SMEs in Agro Allied processing and packaging and organises, trade missions for UK Diaspora businesses to Nigeria, missions for Nigerian businesses to Gambia and access EU Funds for market entry visits/overseas market intelligence.

www.compass-consultants.com

CENUK – ‘Linking for growth’

Director, Priority International Denis St Bernard

Director, Priority International Denis St Bernard

Caribbean Enterprise Network (CENUK) a social enterprise focused on helping Caribbean businesses in the Caribbean and the UK to increase their competitiveness and export capability.

We have special responsibilities to facilitate the newly formed Professional Working Group for CARICOM (Caribbean Common Market) Diaspora Initiatives.

We are delighted to also be introduce Nigerian company, Courteville Business Solutions PLC into the Caribbean market, particularly Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. This is intended to be the first of a series of African / Caribbean trade missions planned for years to come. www.cenuk.net

Priority First UK Ltd

Claire Jackson - Operations Manager - CENUK

Claire Jackson – Operations Manager – CENUK

PRIORITY FIRST UK LTD, part of the Priority Group of Companies, a Business Support Service  based in London and Jamaica with representatives throughout the English Speaking Caribbean.

This consultancy focuses on Investigation, Background Checks, and Business Facilitation Services from assisting start ups and established Businesses to creating and assisting various Caribbean / UK/EU Trade Missions.

Priority First provides professional services in Accounting, Strategic Marketing, Business Development, Facilitation, Support, Investigation and Business Networking and Management Services. Our Consultants are all experts in their fields with many years experience. www.prioritycompanies.net

Zeraxis –

Del Atah Managing Director, Zeraxis

Del Atah Managing Director, Zeraxis

Since 1989, the Zeraxis team have provided business advantage by combining their extensive business, project management and technical ability with client-chosen technologies and business process globally.

The resulting engagements not only support the client’s core business, but are delivered on time and on budget.

People, Process, Technology is a Zeraxis mantra. Each element presents significant challenges, but it is the ability to integrate all three that will deliver real benefit to your business.

If you have a people, process, or technology problem, but lack the skill, time or independent perspective necessary to solve it we can advise.

All successful solutions require evaluation of People, Process and Technology and well-defined business processes that successfully integrate them will yield consistent and positive results.

The best technology in the world is useless if it is not aligned with your people and processes.www.zeraxis.com

 CaribDirect.com

David F. Roberts, CEO CaribDirect.com

David F. Roberts, CEO CaribDirect.com

CaribDirect.com is an online media house which gathers news and information from the Caribbean region for dissemination to the Caribbean Diaspora and vice versa.

With only original articles provided by a raft of writers from around the Caribbean, the USA and Britain, ranging from the amateur to the professional and boasting a total of 350,000 readers to date from over 170 countries around the world.

CaribDirect.com is fast becoming the most sought after portal for Caribbean Diaspora news and the fastest growing Caribbean business and lifestyle website on the internet.

CaribDirect.com will provide ongoing media support to the Trade Mission in Jamaica and Trinidad while coordinating daily releases with local and regional media. www.caribdirect.com

Trade Mission Contacts:

London – CaribDirect David F. Roberts +44 207 582 2275 – Jamaica: CENUK – Claire Jackson (876) 423 6340 – Priority Group – Tamiko Carter (876) 946 1881-6
Cover photo www.timeslive.co.za Article written by David F Roberts