Jamaican entrepreneurs featured in Forbes magazineMonday, February 18, 2019
BY ALEXIS MONTEITH
Some Jamaican entrepreneurs, leaders and personalities involved in the island's sustainability and renewable energy movement were recently featured in the internationally renowned business magazine, Forbes.
The coverage came in the form of two articles entitled “Make Jamaica Green Again: 10 Powerful Women Leading The Sustainability Movement” and “6 Renewable Energy Entrepreneurs Lighting Up Jamaica”.
The features were penned by Forbes writer James Ellsmoor, a Forbes 30 Under 30 entrepreneur. Ellsmoor is actively involved in environmental projects around the world being the co-founder of Solar Head of State, a non-profit organisation raising awareness through high-profile projects, and working as a consultant to private and government organisations in areas related to the environment and entrepreneurship.
In an interview with the Jamaica Observer following the publication of his articles in Forbes magazine, Ellsmoor had a lot of praise for Jamaica's efforts towards sustainability and addressing environmental issues and believes the country is punching well above its weight. He cited the island's recent ban on a number of single-use plastics as an example of where Jamaica has made a bold move relative to a number of other countries that are still lagging behind.
“Jamaica is such an innovative place and I really wanted to showcase that,” Ellsmoor said speaking about his motivation for writing the stories. “There is a personal interest because I have a real passion and love for Jamaican culture and the island has such a beautiful environment. But additionally I think there is so much potential that is often not seen globally beyond music and sports and I wanted to showcase that side of Jamaica.”
The story that focused on Jamaican women in the sustainability movement featured female personalities from both the private and public sectors.
Included were: Heather Pinnock, acting general manager at the Urban Development Corporation; Suzanne Stanley, CEO at Jamaica Environment Trust; Claire Nelson, chief ideation leader at the futures forum; Emma Lewis, blogger and environmental advocate; Lauren Le Franc, founder of the Little Coffee Company; Lisa Binns, founder of Stush In The Bush; Allison Rangolan, chief technical director at Environmental Foundation of Jamaica; Valrie Grant, managing director of GeoTechVision Enterprises; Susan Otuokon, executive director at Jamaica Conservation And Development Trust; and Andrea Dempster-Chung, founder of Kingston Creative.
Ellsmoor wanted to dedicate an entire article to women in particular, noting that the sectors he covered tend to be male-dominated and it was important to highlight the critical work of these female personalities.
“Leadership of women is often underrepresented in the sustainability and particularly the energy sector, so I felt it was important to concentrate on that,” he insisted.
Kingston Creative founder, Andrea-Dempster Chung, whose organisation's goal is to transform downtown Kingston into an “art and culture” hub for creatives, was pleased that Ellsmoor did not limit the topic of sustainability to just the environment.
“My other feeling was surprise that they included an organisation that does not focus directly on the environment,” Dempster-Chung stated in reference to her Kingston Creative project. “My first degree is in Civil & Environmental Engineering and so I do believe that the environment is an urgent priority, but all too often, when we think 'sustainability' in Jamaica, we tend to think only of the environment. By including Kingston Creative in a list about sustainability, Forbes was taking all three 'pillars of sustainability' into consideration — economic, social and environmental.”
Ellsmoor's other article, however, did focus specifically on the environment and zeroed in on six of Jamaica's renewable-energy entrepreneurs.
The personalities covered included Shelly-Ann Dinnall, a farmer at Jamaica Broilers Group; Kimroy Bailey, founder of Kimroy Bailey Group; Nathaniel Peat, co-founder of GeNNex Elite; Jason Robinson, CEO of Solar Buzz Jamaica; Suzanne Shaw, co-founder Leap Impact Investment Fund; and Sean Hinds, CEO of Radiant Energy.
Ellsmoor began the article by noting that Jamaica relies heavily on importing fossil fuels but its geographical situation is well-suited to renewable energy such as solar and wind. This sentiment was echoed in a statement the writer included in the article from the co-founder of GeNNex Elite, Nathaniel Peat.
“There are many opportunities in Jamaica towards the development of renewable solutions both in user education and manufacture for the entire region of the Caribbean,” Peat was quoted as saying. “Caribbean nations rely heavily on oil and diesel imports to fuel their power needs, it's a dirty, expensive and has a negative impact on the environment. This creates an opportunity for tech entrepreneurs to transform not only their energy systems, but agriculture and the blue economy, and generally innovating on sustainable greener solutions.”
Ellsmoor's focus on the entrepreneurs in his piece showed that “the energy transition is happening slowly but surely” in Jamaica. These individuals are making valuable contributions through energy management systems, the promotion and use of solar and wind energy and the advancement of positive environmental solutions through education and investment.
Ellsmoor still believes Jamaica faces many challenges. He believes there is even greater room for improvement in the Government's commitment to 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030, and he is wary of the dangers of climate change which dominate environmental headlines around the world.
“Jamaica is very vulnerable to the impacts of climate change such as sea level rise and increased impact of hurricanes,” he stated. “There needs to be serious attention paid to how the island adapt to these impacts.”
Following on the publication of the articles, Andrea Dempster-Chung also noted that the broader sustainability movement, particularly in the area of arts and culture to which she is devoted, has its challenges as well.
“Capital, capital, capital,” she insisted, alluding to the need for greater investment. “It's about who is willing to actually invest in culture and build the ecosystem required in order to monetise and see the tangible returns from all this creative talent that Jamaica possesses.”