Excerpt from Jamaica Observer column by Jean Lowrie-Chin
Congratulations to the dynamic Marlene Street-Forrest, General Manager of the Jamaica Stock Exchange, and her hardworking team: their extraordinary efforts have earned them Bloomberg’s rating as the Number One performing stock exchange in the world in 2015! Marlene Street-Forrest has noted international interest in Jamaica’s firms: Heineken NV’s purchase of Red Stripe/Desnoes & Geddes saw those shares soaring by 500 percent and a Mexican company acquired majority shares in the Burrowes family’s Dolphin Cove.
|Legendary Myrtle Bank Hotel (Getty Images)|
The Jamaica Stock Exchange started operations in 1969, founded by Willard Samms, Raglan Golding, Edward Gayle and Anthony Lloyd. The palms around their building at 40 Harbour Street bring back memories of driving with my Dad along the palm-lined driveway of the Myrtle Bank Hotel which was at that very location.
How the business district of downtown Kingston has developed since then – it holds great promise, as does the tourism, agriculture, real estate and manufacturing sectors of Jamaica. The world is discovering the potential of our beloved country, the largest English-speaking Caribbean island, set squarely in the centre of the Americas.
|The late Basil Buck|
Years ago, I decided to become a ‘penny stockholder’ in the companies served by our agency – this gave a deeper understanding of the businesses, as I listened to the concerns of shareholders large and small at the annual general meetings. My late friend Basil Buck, owner of Buck Securities, organised for these share purchases and made a few suggestions which turned out to be excellent.
Then, when we handled the publicity for the Junior Market listings of the Lasco companies about five years ago, we suggested reserving shares for teachers, nurses and police officers, for whom our shop had developed affirmation programmes. The awareness sessions went well, bringing in hundreds of new participants in Jamaica’s Stock Market.
The Bloomberg website notes that the JSE has launched the Caribbean’s first online trading platform. This has inspired Denis St. Bernard, a London-based business consultant to start “a diaspora-focused investment company that would pool contributions.” St. Bernard noted that the opportunities are with known Jamaican brands such as GraceKennedy.
Investment guru Sushil Jain has been an enthusiastic supporter of Blue Chip Jamaican companies listed on the JSE. “Why wouldn’t you want to have people like Don Wehby and Patrick Hylton working for you?” he asks. Let us make financial literacy a priority so that ordinary Jamaicans can tap into every opportunity for wealth creation.