From Kingston's gritty streets to the highways of the Far East
A Jamaican entrepreneur seeks to carve out a trade nicheSunday, May 16, 2021
When Earl Hemans was growing up in the Allman Town/Woodford Park part of Kingston, Jamaica, the farthest thing from his mind was that one day he would end up serving in the diplomatic service and then eventually launch an export business from the Far East to the Caribbean.
The past student of Holy Trinity High School who currently resides in Myanmar (formerly Burma) served in the Jamaican Embassy in China between 2015 and 2017 as financial manager.
From a reserved youngster from Arnold Avenue, off Arnold Road, Kingston 4, Hemans has matured into a confident businessman with a vision of untapped direct trade possibilities between Jamaica, Trinidad and other Caribbean territories and companies in China with a focus on household tech equipment, personal protective clothing and even e-cars. His stint in the diplomatic service and contacts with companies in China and the Philippines, he says, has awakened his mind to even greater possibilities.
He credits his expanded vision and career progress to a dogged determination to improve himself and some good advice from mentors in the Jamaican public service including the then permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Ambassador Paul Robotham, and the former Chief of Protocol in the Office of the Prime Minister, the late Ambassador Elinor Felix, who helped to guide him during stints at Jamaica House and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. It was while doing a course at the Management Institute for National Development (MIND) that a lecturer's comments about potential expanded trade with Nigeria and China caught his imagination.
Whether by serendipity or providence, he later learnt of a vacancy for financial manager in Jamaica's foreign missions in Nigeria and China. He applied for one in China and was successful in the interview and so made his entrance into the foreign service. After two years into his work in the embassy in China, he opted to relocate to the Philippines before moving on to Myanmar.
“After 2017, I did not want to remain in the diplomatic service as there was no scope for me to grow as a serious businessman. So I branched out and went to Philippines with some Chinese investors who were exploring options in renewable energy, I stayed in Philippines for a year then went back to China and am now in Myanmar,” he explains.
Hemans says notwithstanding distance and logistics challenges, he was surprised and bothered by the absence of a Jamaican trade attaché in China and any serious push by Caricom to develop better trading arrangements directly with Chinese firms.
Hemans acknowledges the scepticism about developing trade links with Chinese factories but insists many people are just unaware or too hesitant to take advantage of what is available.
The CEO and chairman of Jenergistic Alpha Harmonic International Trade Financing & Distribution Company Limited wants to make more connections with distributors in Jamaica and other Caricom countries beyond the items he currently facilitates.
The line of products in the catalogue that he says he can source directly from factory / manufacturing plant to retailers/ distributors include personal protective equipment such as industrial wear boots, contactless garbage bins, umbrellas with Bluetooth speaker (recommended for tech and music lovers), solar UV sanitisers for toothbrushes and Disc brake MTB bikes.
“Normally most of these products go directly to Europe and North America then subsequently may reach the Caribbean region at higher prices. Since I directly have connections with factories and suppliers within Asia including, but not limited to, China, I would like to give access to Caribbean working people, in all fields,” he said in a recent interview.
Hemans concedes that many people will see this as a daunting task given long-standing trade practices and logistics, but he sees himself as a man on a mission nonetheless. He attributes his confidence to faith and trust in God who he contends made his career trajectory possible. “To God be the glory,” he declares.
Currently, he does business in Jamaica through JMEL Distributors & Logistic Services and is keen on getting more products into the market, which he believes would benefit the consumer in terms of pricing and wider product choices.
“I feel obliged to let them be aware that there are options. They do not necessarily have to buy from me but I want to let them know that these technologies do exist. Our company is willing and prepared to assist in technology exchange not only to sell these products,” he declares.
Hemans may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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