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[CONTENTS] [News] 6 local animation company signs international contract

Local animation company Reel Rock GSW Animation, which recently celebrated its first anniversary, has secured an agreement with Studio Redfrog, an animation production company that bills itself the ‘Digital Storytellers’, based in Lille, France.

7 major chinese biomedical equipment manufacturer signals interest in jamaica Mindray, one of the largest electro-medical equipment manufacturers in China, whose products are sold in more than 60 countries across the world, is currently exploring the possibilities of investing in Jamaica.

[ s ta r t u p s ]

[business lounge] 12 5 to watch this year

Jamaica ended a fiscally punishing 2012 with predictions of even more hardships for 2013, so we are already familiar with some of what we have to look forward to. However, it is never all doom and gloom, as several businesses did hit their stride last year and are prepared for even bigger things this year.

[insights] 17

will the true entrepreneurs please stand up?

It’s hard to escape the feeling of doom and gloom as we wait for the proverbial other shoe to drop, but we must set our minds to the business of finding solutions.

21 ‘java’ queen: andrea johnson brewing success for

Jamaica’s specialty coffee

According to the International Coffee Organization, an estimated 1.6 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide every day. This statistic is not news to Andrea Johnson, who ventured into the local coffee industry in January 2011.


[do good] 19 the art of ‘giving’ back

Last Christmas, as many Jamaican children (and some adults) eagerly tore through the gift wrap to get to the goodies inside, some of them might have noticed that their wrapping paper looked a bit different from the traditional holiday fare: no images of jolly St Nick and his reindeer, Christmas trees or candy canes.

[editor’s note] N e w y e a r r e s o lu t i o n s f o r your business

N

ew year resolutions have become a bit of a cliché as many of us make these elaborate wishes, but find ourselves right back where we started before the end of January. We’re not knocking resolutions as it is always good to have goals, but the key to achieving them is to put in some work. Our resolutions are usually personal, along the lines of ‘lose 20 pounds,’ ‘quit smoking or drinking’ and ‘spend more time with family,’ but it is a good idea to write down some goals for your business as well. Sure, the goal is always to maximise profits, but there are often many steps involved in getting to the desired amount. If you haven’t already written down your list, here are three resolutions to make – and keep – for 2013. 1.Plan more Planning is vital to the health of your growing business as it helps you take stock of where you are, where you’re going and what is working or not working for the company, allowing you to adjust operations as necessary. Resolve to have weekly planning sessions, whether on your own or with your core team members to review, adjust and strategise. 2.Network more The importance of creating a solid network cannot be over-emphasised. Being around other business people not only helps spark ideas, but you might just be in the presence of someone who can help you make it a reality. No matter how strong your current network is, it pays to have new contacts, so join an organisation and start connecting.

[business lounge]

3.Give more You might wonder how giving your money away will benefit your business when the aim is to make more of it, but the old saying is true: the more you give, the more you receive. Giving back helps build your reputation and increase your customer base and might also attract powerful supporters who value philanthropy. Find a cause that speaks to you and get your team members involved.

Tracey-Ann Wisdom


6 [news]

Local animation company signs international contract

L

ocal animation company Reel Rock GSW Animation, which recently celebrated its first anniversary, has secured an agreement with Studio Redfrog, an animation production company that bills itself the ‘Digital Storytellers’, based in Lille, France. The agreement calls for the production of 13 episodes of Quiz Time, a cartoon targeting children in the two-six age group that airs on Disney Junior in France. The contract is believed to be the first of its kind for an animation studio based in the Caribbean. “This is an amazing achievement for us… It is a testament to the very hard work put in by our dedicated and super talented team of animators and illustrators and this augurs well not just for us, but the Jamaican and Caribbean animation industry,” said Wayne Sinclair, Reel Rock GSW’s executive director. He also paid tribute to JAMPRO, which he said was instrumental in facilitating the “first steps on this journey of the local animation industry.” Citing a strict confidentiality clause in the agreement, Sinclair said the financial terms of the deal could not be disclosed, but he was quick to point out the role of Toon Boom Animation in Montreal, Canada. “Toon Boom’s software was a crucial component of this opportunity. I had met briefly with one of the principals of Redfrog last year at the Annecy (France) Animation Festival and struck up a conversation. But Redfrog is a Toon Boom (software) studio as well and this established a common technological platform between us, so we did a test

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and they decided that we were good enough to work with them,” he explained. Sinclair also confirmed that he has had preliminary discussions with Redfrog for additional work relating to other aspects of their distribution pipeline. Redfrog is a leading producer of content for various media platforms including broadcast television, online webisodes and apps for tablets and smart phones. Milverton Reynolds, managing director of the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), congratulated Sinclair and his team. “The company is a great example of local entrepreneurs who are not only providing employment and an outlet for local creative talent, but also earning valuable foreign exchange for Jamaica. The DBJ is pleased to have facilitated the provision of financing for the company and hopes that this contract marks the beginning of bigger and better opportunities,” he said. Lisa Bell, managing director at EXIM Bank, said: “We are pleased that Reel Rock GSW is getting the opportunity to make its mark internationally. EXIM Bank is not just a financial partner, but a supporter of the creative industry and we strongly believe that these opportunities will create new foreign exchange streams for Jamaica and open doors for other entrepreneurs wanting to do business in animation.”

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Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Anthony Hylton signs a joint statement of intent with Mindray’s top executive in charge of emerging markets, Simon Wang at JAMPRO’s offices in Kingston. Looking on is JAMPRO chairman, Milton Samuda and Yinghong Zheng,

Major Chinese biomedical equipment manufacturer signals interest in Jamaica

M

indray, one of the largest electromedical equipment manufacturers in China, whose products are sold in more than 60 countries across the world, is currently exploring the possibilities of investing in Jamaica. Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Anthony Hylton, signed a joint statement of Intent on December 14, 2012 with the Shenzen-based Mindray at JAMPRO’s corporate offices in Kingston. Mindray’s top executive in charge of emerging markets, Simon Wang, spent a week in Jamaica meeting with Hylton, JAMPRO and other parties to look first-hand at the possibilities for doing business in Jamaica. “Jamaica has a well-established free market, hard-working and highly-trained workforce, and an efficient government organisation (JAMPRO) to facilitate potential overseas investment,” noted Wang, who expressed confidence in the Jamaican business environment.

looking at setting up a logistics and distribution centre in Jamaica to serve its high-volume export markets in the western hemisphere and is also assessing Jamaica as a possible site for the establishment of a manufacturing, assembly and/or repair and after sales facility. Mindray has also expressed an interest in Montego Bay as a potential venue for one of the company’s major conferences. “We feel very honored to have had the Jamaica delegation visit our Mindray R&D Centre in Beijing and then get a chance to have this return visit to have a real feeling about the competence of the Jamaica business environment,” added Wang. The signing of the statement of intent follows on the heels of Hylton’s mission to China in November to promote investment opportunities in the Jamaica logistics hub initiative. The joint statement outlines a framework for partnership in a number of areas, including logistics and distribution, manufacturing, equipment maintenance and repair, contact centre operations and event management.

Mindray, which is a Chinese-US joint venture, is specifically Your Money eZine

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It’s Tax Season! Changes to Income Tax

It is important to note that some changes were recently announced advising that as at January 1, 2013 the personal income tax threshold or tax-free income has been increased to $507,312 and the corporate income tax rate reduced to 25%, for unregulated companies. This will certainly benefit individuals and companies, who will now enjoy savings on their income tax payments.

How to Apply the Changes

Personal Income Tax: 1. In arriving at the tax to be paid, the income tax threshold of $507,312 is to be applied against taxable income, before calculating tax at 25%. 2. Employers should apply the corresponding tax-free portion to periodic payments made to employees as follows: - $9,756 weekly - $19,512 fortnightly - $42,276 monthly

Corporate Income Tax: 1.

2.

It is only unregulated companies that will see a reduction in the tax rate to 25%. The tax rate remains at 33% for companies regulated by: - Financial Services Commission (FSC) - Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) - Bank of Jamaica (BOJ)

“Tax Season”, like other seasons comes around every year and that time is now. With tax season now in the air, all companies, self-employed persons (including partners), partnerships, organisations and persons who are employed but have other sources of income should by now be preparing to submit their income tax returns, final and estimated, on or before the MARCH 15 due date.

- Ministry of Finance and Planning (MOFP)

When to Apply Changes

Individuals and unregulated companies are advised that the new threshold and new tax rate are not to be applied in computing their final income tax for assessment year 2012. It should however be used in computing the estimated income tax for assessment year 2013. Both the final income tax return and the estimated income tax returns are due to be filed by MARCH 15.

Examples of individuals required to file 1.

2.

Filing Options

Both the final and estimated income tax returns and payments may be made online via the Jamaica Tax Portal at www.jamaicatax-online.gov.jm or through the network of twenty-nine (29) tax offices. Persons are encouraged to register and use the online option and so avoid the wait inline at a tax office. Tax Admin Rep, Churton Bellamy showing the Hon. Damion Crawford Minister of State, Tourism & Entertainment our online portal

3.

All persons operating a business, whether or not they make a profit, should file. Persons employed but have a business on the “side”, are required to file a tax return. This applies to persons such as: - Teachers who receive money for extra lessons; - Government Doctors who also have a private practice; - Architects, surveyors, etc, employed by a firm, but who also work independently; - Lawyers employed in the public or private sector who also provide independent services; - Employees who rent out all/part of their house(s); - Employees who do hairdressing, dress making, etc. for a fee; Starting this year the Commissioner General, TAJ is directing ALL: - Medical Doctors, - Attorneys-at-law, - Registered Accountants,

To file tax returns even if their only income is from employment. Persons who are strictly PAYE should file a form IT05 and others would file forms IT01 and IT07.


[business lounge] r e a l b u s i n e s s . r e a l ta l k


this Jamaica ended a fiscally punishing 2012 with predictions of even more hardships for 2013, so we are already familiar with some of what we have to look forward to. However, it is never all doom and gloom, as several businesses did hit their stride last year and are prepared for even bigger things in 2013. Here are our five persons and companies to watch this year:

1 Finance minister Peter Phillips

He is not an entrepreneur and his policies might have come under fire from all sections of the economy, but let’s face it: no one will be under more scrutiny this year than finance minister Peter Phillips. His biggest job will be to negotiate a new standby loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The business community – in fact, the entire nation – watches with bated breath as Phillips engages the lending agency in a bid to secure muchneeded funds to help resuscitate our ailing economy. A shaky economy stifles business growth and Jamaica is in a precarious position. Failing a new IMF agreement and with no alternative plans publicised, Jamaica could very well be plunging off our own ‘fiscal cliff ’ long before year-end. The country finds itself at a crossroads in its negotiations with the IMF due to issues such as the protracted sale of Air Jamaica and a contentious public sector wage freeze, which have caused lengthy delays in the process. The last quarterly IMF review should have taken place in 2011, but Jamaica has only completed three of the eight tests to date. Phillips admitted Patrick Hylton – Group Managing Director, NCB

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that due to the collapse of previous talks, the government must now implement several prior action requirements before a new agreement can be reached. However, he gave no indication as to what these conditions are or a time frame in which they must be realised. Later this year, Phillips will also deliver the 2013-2014 budget amidst tight fiscal constraints, including a national debt of $1.7 trillion – $600,000 for every resident of Jamaica.

2

Donovan Perkins – President and CEO, Sagicor Investments Jamaica Limited Jamaica said goodbye to the names Pan Caribbean Financial Services and PanCaribbeanBank on December 17, 2012, as the entities were officially rebranded as Sagicor Investments Jamaica Limited and Sagicor Bank. This was a strategic move to more closely align themselves with parent company, Sagicor Life Jamaica.

20 to 150 machines, allowing more players into the lucrative market. Brian George, President and CEO of the Supreme Ventures Group, the largest player in the industry, took the strategic decision to focus on expanding its gaming operations, pumping US$4.5 million ($415m) into upgrades and expansion of Acropolis Gaming Lounges in Kingston and Coral Cliff in Montego Bay, as well as the soon-to-be-opened Secret Room, a joint effort with the Kingston Live Entertainment (KLE) Group at Marketplace, also in Kingston. In the process, the group has closed its lower-performing MoneyGram financial services and discontinuation of the unprofitable restaurant operations in Kingston and Montego Bay.

This rebranding has once again thrust company president and CEO Donovan Perkins into the spotlight as the country will be looking on to see how well the two entities can capitalise on the power of the renowned Sagicor brand. After all, the rebranding didn’t come cheap: more than $46 million was spent on the process. The decision was made to rebrand the two PanCaribbean entities after research revealed low market knowledge for the brand, despite its linkage to the Sagicor Jamaica Group. It might have also been helped by confusion with Pan Caribbean Sugar Company, a recently started Chinese-owned operation. While the company will retain a small subsidiary with the PanCaribbean identity to protect its brand in the financial industry, Sagicor Investments will now trade under the symbol, ‘S’. Perkins explained that the ‘S’ is in fact a powerful symbol as it represents many of the principles that have defined the Sagicor Group over the years, including strength, safety, stability, solutions, service, success and social responsibility.

3

Brian George – President and CEO, Supreme Ventures Group While the passionate debate surrounding casino gambling continues, swelling in volume every now and then, the gaming industry continues to soldier on, netting small victories along the way. This time last year, the Betting Gaming & Lotteries Commission (BGLC) lifted the eight-year ban on lounges with

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The focus on gaming comes as the industry hits an unprecedented growth spurt locally. There are currently 25 gaming operations island-wide. Last year, two new companies entered the market, The Vault at the Wyndham Hotel in New Kingston, which was opened in mid-December by business partners Adam Epstein and Gassan Azan; and the Macau Gaming Lounge, which opened in November at Lindsay Crescent in Kingston. Epstein and Azan are also partners in the popular Sizzling Slots gaming shops. www.ezinesreader.com


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4 Patrick Hylton – Group Managing Director, NCB

National Commercial Bank (NCB) ended 2012 on a high note after celebrating 175 years of existence, making strides to complete its listing on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and acquiring Trinidad-based AIC Finance in late November, though its subsidiary, NCB Capital Markets. Of course, with such stellar achievements, everyone will be watching to see how the NYSE listing pans out and how the company turns around its loss-making Trinidad acquisition. As the man in charge, Group Managing Director Patrick Hylton will be firmly in the public eye as he leads the island’s largest and most profitable banking group into uncharted territory. The first move recorded for 2013 has been the announcement of plans to establish a new holding company as NCB moves forward with its NYSE initial public offering (IPO). The conversion is expected to take place before the end of the group’s fiscal year in September. No date has been set for NCB’s IPO more than a year after it was initially announced, so this is the one move everyone is waiting to see transpire.

5 C2W Music

Caribbean 2 World Music (C2W) also had a good showing in 2012, listing on the JSE Junior Market with an IPO that attracted

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just over the $129 million the company had hoped to raise. As the name suggests, the company is poised to take Caribbean music to the world through the talents of up and coming songwriters. C2W has held a number of camps across the region, collaborating with major international record labels to work with the aspiring lyricists. Songs coming out of those camps have been earmarked for the upcoming albums of superstar Jennifer Hudson, boy band Mindless Behaviour, X Factor standout Rachel Crow and Glee star Amber Riley. Additionally, We Want Drinkz, written by C2W’s King Bubba FM, Lil Rick and Corey Forde was featured in Tap Tap Revenge, a popular game on iTunes, in October. Berry also made two late-in-the-year announcements that have set up C2W for a good 2013. In November, the intellectual property company secured a three-year partnership with German-based publisher BMG Chrysalis, which makes C2W a sub-publisher for BMG million-song catalogue and songwriters. C2W will collect 100 per cent of BMG’s royalties from all potential revenue streams in the region, for which it will be paid a 10 per cent fee. It will also negotiate and close deals with any entity wanting to license any material that belongs to BMG. In December, Berry announced that iTunes would be launching in the Caribbean early this year, which would increase revenue potential for C2W from digital downloads. However, Apple has yet to confirm this move, so we wait to see how it plays out.

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16 [insights]

Will the true entrepreneurs please stand up?

W

e all know the prognosis by now: Jamaica, the land of wood and water, rich in natural resources and overflowing with talented citizens, is broke. Our national debt is more than $1.7 trillion. Our economy has grown anaemically since achieving independence in 1962 – a paltry 0.6 per cent in total, well below the 1.8 per cent global average. Currently, we are desperately awaiting word from the government regarding the stalled negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) about our standby loan agreement and with only platitudes coming from the Prime Minister’s new year’s address on January 6, naturally, the entire country is on edge. It’s hard to escape the feeling of doom and gloom as we wait for the proverbial other shoe to drop, but we must set our minds to the business of finding solutions. One solution that has real potential to yank this country back from the brink of economic disaster is entrepreneurship. This has been said so many times and by so many different pundits that it has almost become a truism, but it is the truth. The 2006 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report revealed that there was a systematic relationship between a country’s level of economic development and its level and type of entrepreneurial activity. The only way to dig our way out of debt is to increase revenue and that is done mostly by payment of taxes. In order for more taxes to be collected, more people need to employed. In order for more people to employed, more jobs need to be created and that is where entrepreneurs come in. Whether micro, small, medium or large, their businesses keep the economy ticking. It might seem strange to encourage people to go into business at such a time as this, when morale is low, funds seem to be in short supply and entrepreneurs currently braving the economic elements complain bitterly about the obstacles they face. The reality cannot be sugar coated, as the the challenges to doing business

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in Jamaica are well documented. However, the mark of a true entrepreneur is an appreciation for risk taking and, despite the obstacles, there are resources and avenues of assistance open for those willing to rise to the occasion: most financial institutions offer special loans for SME clients and organisations like the Jamaica Business Development Corporation offer guidance to young entrepreneurs. All over the world, new entrepreneurs are coming to the fore in droves as they seek to create opportunities not only for themselves, but their fellow citizens. The 2011 GEM report states that there a r e now more than 400 million entrepreneurs across 54 countries. According to Donna Kelley, lead author of the GEM report and associate professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College in Massachusetts, more than 140 million of these entrepreneurs expect to add at least five jobs over the next five years. In addition, total early stage entrepreneurship increased significantly from 2010-2011 in many economies – emerging, developing and mature. Therefore, despite the grim prognosis, all hope is not lost for Jamaica. While the government needs to put the requisite policies in place to create a better environment for businesses to flourish, opportunities do exist for those willing to take the chance. Jamaica needs entrepreneurs, so will you rise to the occasion?

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19 [DO GOOD]

The art of 'Giving' back

L

ast Christmas, as many Jamaican children (and some adults) eagerly tore through the gift wrap to get to the goodies inside, some of them might have noticed that their wrapping paper looked a bit different from the traditional holiday fare: no images of jolly St Nick and his reindeer, Christmas trees or candy canes. Instead, there were whimsical, colourful kiddie drawings. These were not ordinary gift wraps, but ‘Giving Paper’, featuring artwork from the pre-school students at Fundaciones @ El Centro and are done annually for a good cause. The Giving Paper is a project started by El Centro founder Rachael McDonald and teachers Kristina Broderick and Isabelle Barnes in October 2009. “We wanted a project that would encourage creativity and, at the same time, foster compassion in and among the children we teach. This was an easy, hands-on and unique way to get kids involved,” said McDonald. To make Giving Paper each year, the students enter a Christmas Drawing Competition. The winners have their pieces compiled into wrapping paper and everyone at the school gets involved with the sales. The wrapping papers are created with the help of Broderick and Phoenix Printery Ltd. Each sheet of the Giving Paper sells for $100 and all proceeds go towards purchasing well-needed supplies for the paediatric wards at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI).

At first, Giving Papers were designed solely by the pre-school students, but last year, it was opened up to children from other grade levels and other institutions. “This year’s Giving Paper features a range of ages: five-year-olds, seven-year-olds, nine-year-olds and 12-year-olds,” said McDonald. Why was this done? Coming soon, the scope of The Giving Paper will be expanded. It started out as only Christmas gift wrapping paper, but the school has received requests for the paper to be produced throughout the year. “We are brainstorming how we can keep the momentum going with gift wrap paper for special occasions year round. We’ve also done Christmas gift tags as well and as such would be willing to do the same for other occasions,” said McDonald. One of the hallmarks of El Centro is its focus on bi-lingual education in both its preschool programme (Fundaciones) and after school options for older children up to 18 years old. El Centro is not a traditional school, so there are no established service organisations. However, philanthropy is emphasised through projects like The Giving Paper and a partnership with non-profit organisation Chi Chi Bud Limited. “We were happy to participate and our kids got very involved, even the preschoolers, and donations were made to every pediatric ward across Jamaica,” said McDonald.

“In the past, our proceeds have gone towards buying a gurney, pins, cables, needles and an oxygen saturation monitor. Dr Minerva Thame and Sister Heather Davis usually communicate the ward’s needs and we source, liaise and work towards obtaining [them from] a local medical supplies company,” explained McDonald. “Naturally, medical supplies are expensive and we have not been able to raise enormous amounts, but do hope to do so in the future.”

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[ s ta r t - u p s ] read

.

believe

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succeed


T

he basic necessities of life are food, clothing and shelter, but for a vast number of people around the world, a fourth vital need exists – coffee. Many people don’t wake up until they have had a steaming cup (or two) in the mornings and many more will need at least another cup to get through the day. According to the International Coffee Organization, an estimated1.6 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide every day. This statistic is not news to Andrea Johnson, who ventured into the local industry in January 2011 after her father talked her into getting involved in the coffee importing business in New York. Johnson, who was born in the state but is a dual citizen, jumped at the idea and formed Serra Trading Company, a ‘premium purveyor of single estate Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee.’ She has spent the past two years studying the industry locally and internationally, acquiring a foreign importer license from the Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica and is now ready to get the world hooked on Jamaican specialty coffee, starting with New York. “There has been a resurgence in the specialty coffee market in America and [it] is super hot – single estate coffee (grown on a single farm) is hot, single origin coffee (from a specific geographic area or single country) is hot. People want to know the story of where their coffee comes from and they’re willing to pay the price for it,” said Johnson, adding, “I always say that cheap coffee is not sustainable.” The term ‘specialty coffee’ (also called ‘gourmet’ or ‘premium’) is used to describe beans of the best flavor that are produced in special microclimates. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee falls into this

andrea johnson brewing success for jamaica’s specialty coffee

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[start-ups]

category. According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), specialty coffee sales comprise approximately 37 per cent volume share and nearly 50 per cent value share of the American retail market, which is valued at approximately US$30-32 billion dollars. As part of her research in preparation for selling both roasted and green bean Blue Mountain coffee to international markets, Johnson has been developing relationships locally with farmers and overseas with roasters in New York, where Serra Trading is based. She has had one major challenge so far and that is combating a brewing negative perception, especially in the US, about the quality of our coffee. “Consistency of quality has proven to be an issue as some importers have mixed Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee with a lower grade, touting it as 100 per cent Jamaican Blue Mountain, which may have lead to distrust. Additionally, 85 per cent of all JBM goes to Japan, so they receive the best quality,” she explained. “I have to work at it. I have to build relationships with the roasters where they feel comfortable trusting me.” However, Johnson is determined to change this perception. She certainly has the chops, with a background in luxury marketing, where she worked with companies like Armani, L’Oreal and Iman Cosmetics. She is also a trained chef with a catering business, so she knows her way around the food and beverage industry. It also doesn’t hurt that her parents own a coffee farm in the Blue Mountains. “This allows me to meld all of my passions together – for marketing, for business, for food, for nature. I work with people a lot, going on farms to see what the coffee is like. I’m very involved and I know exactly where the coffee comes from and i can feel comfortable representing them and saying that I know the process from bean to cup,” said Johnson, who is currently working with RSW Estates and Flamstead Estate for green beans and True Blue for roasted coffee. After establishing herself in the US, Johnson also has her sights set on markets in eastern Asia, specifically Thailand, China and

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Japan. Jamaica currently exports the vast majority of its coffee – 85 per cent – to the latter, but Johnson is especially interested in the Thai market because it would basically be uncharted territory. “In Thailand, there’s a resort that’s actually selling cups of coffee for US$50 per cup. That’s one of the reasons I’ve identified Thailand,” she said. “I don’t want to go to a place where everyone else is, but I do want to go where I see opportunity and I see that the consumers are willing to pay for what they think is a quality cup of coffee or something that’s different or luxurious. That’s a very huge task to undertake, to try to convince somebody why they need to buy a US$50 pound of coffee.” Johnson is also keenly observing the competition. She explained that the US specialty coffee market is currently dominated by produce from Panama and El Salvador, which fetches prices of up to US$65 per pound. The past two years have been hectic for Johnson as she has travelled back and forth between New York and Jamaica finetuning plans for Serra Trading. For instance, it took a year for her to acquire the coffee licence and she chuckled, “Starting a business in Jamaica is probably unlike starting a business anywhere else in the world.” During the process, Johnson also applied for and was accepted into the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship – Caribbean and completed the first stage of her training. She is now ready for the second phase, which will see her being assigned a mentor. “I’m looking forward to the mentorship stage. I’m not sure who I’m going to be paired with, but it would be nice to speak with another woman involved in the coffee industry. That’s very rare here in Jamaica and worldwide, at least on the importer side. There are a lot of women who are involved as small holders and producers,” she explained. Johnson is also gearing up for some networking activities such as attending coffee shows and is looking forward to landing her first clients. When asked why she is confident in Serra Trading’s future success, Johnson stated simply, “I know the coffee is good.” www.ezinesreader.com


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January 16, 2013

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