Home African Caribbean UK Trade mission to Jamaica kicks off next week

UK Trade mission to Jamaica kicks off next week

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Cenuk in association with the Priority Group International will be having another trade mission to the Caribbean this year with the focus on the property sector which continues to be a challenge, particularly with the Caribbean Diaspora. The aim of this mission is to add value to this sector while focusing on inward investments primarily from the Diaspora, highlighted Cen’s Director of operations and mission head Denis St Bernard.



Maureen Smith

Maureen Smith

Born in the UK to parents of the ‘Windrush’ generation, Maureen was sent to live in Barbados with her paternal grandparents and extended family at the age of two, before being brought back to the UK some six years later.  Maureen subsequently returned to Barbados in 1997 where she lived and worked for three years before once again returning to the UK.

Maureen has worked in a London-based solicitors’ practice for 13 years, where she responsible for managing a residential conveyancing caseload. She has also worked at one of the top law firms and the insurance industry during her time in Barbados, as well as with a UK-based attorney who practised Jamaican law.

The tremendous challenges encountered by UK residents when dealing with their property affairs ‘back home’ was always of major concern to Maureen.  Armed with a legal background, a passion for Caribbean real estate and a strong desire to become her own boss, Maureen took the decision to set up her own company and Tropical Connections was founded by her in 2004.

Maureen is committed, dedicated and passionate about her work, which she takes very seriously.  Believing that satisfied clients make for success in business, Maureen is always willing to go the extra mile and beyond the call of duty to ensure that her clients avoid pitfalls and financial loss every step of the way.

In addition to managing the day-to-day running of Tropical Connections, Maureen also write articles pertaining to Caribbean property, which she believes to be a great way for sharing knowledge. Maureen enjoys watching wild life documentaries, reading, playing Scrabble and spending time with her grandchildren in her spare time.

(1) What challenges do you see facing Jamaica and the Caribbean in the property sector.

Procedures for dealing with property and property-related transactions in Jamaica and other Caribbean islands are exceedingly protracted, which is a major challenge for private individuals as well as companies in the diaspora. There is no doubt that changes to certain procedures would see transactions progressing much quicker than at the current time.  These include for example, but are not limited to, disposing of the need for sellers and purchasers to be required to provide ‘Offer to Purchase’ documents that have no legal standing, so are in essence totally unnecessary.

(2) How does the value of your many years’ of experience, large network, skills and know-how could add value to this mission etc.

Being able to share ideas and experiences is an invaluable opportunity that is provided by these type of missions.  In the case of this particular mission, participants will be able to ‘brainstorm’ with a view to finding and implementing solutions to various challenges encountered by those in the diaspora.


Frank Kerr

Frank Kerr

Mr Kerr is a qualified manager having completed a BA (Hons) in Business and Management in 2014 and subsequently was awarded a full scholarship to study MBA at Nottingham Business School.  He has been appointed a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, a Fellow of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management and a Member of the Institute of Leadership and Management. Frank’s managerial career started at the age of twenty-one when he took up the post of Assistant Incinerator Process Controller in a chemical waste disposal plant before joining the Royal Air Force as a Commissioned Officer in the Supply and Movements Branch.  On leaving the RAF he moved into the window industry where he has gained experience in production, sales and general management.  Working on behalf of German extrusion company, KBE, Frank successfully set up two window fabrication factories in the Bahamas and, on returning to the UK, completed two turn round projects with KBE customers who had run into financial troubles.  Since 2008, he has run his own consultancy business where he helps small and medium sized companies.  He has completed another two turn-rounds, one in the South of England and one in the Republic of Ireland, and he still works with his earliest client Frame Trade Ltd, manufacturers of PVCu windows for the trade sales market, where he chairs the board meeting and works with the directors collectively and individually.

The required volumes will be achieved by targeting three distinct market sectors: New build, Tourism sector, building trade.


Alexander Palmer

Alexander Palmer


My Construction experience began in 1988 after growing up watching contractor’s build some beautiful houses in Jamaica

In 1995 I migrated to this country and continued my career in the construction industry. I then went on to study brick laying at south Birmingham College during which time I was still working on the construction sites.

In 2006 I was offered a job as a site manager with a company called Advance Brick Work. Between 2006 and 2009 I managed and build, Arthur Terry School in Sutton Coldfield, a Police Station in Leicester and completed a Shopping Centre in Corby Northampton.

Over the years I have recognised the need for a reliable professional and trust worthy builder, to meet the need  of overseas  client. In 2009 I decided to incorporate A W Construction Co Ltd to provide a professional service to our client mainly based overseas.


‘It’s time we address the elephant in the room head on, if we are to really move Jamaica forward in a dynamic way’ cited Denis St.Bernard spokes person on UK Diaspora Business at the Caribbean Enterprise Network UK (CENUK).  He was speaking on Power 106 Newsmaker Segment of ‘ Diaspora live on line’ over  the weekend. He went on to explain that there is no shortage of great ideas or even solutions to the problems facing the country, as when you listen carefully it’s very clear that we Jamaicans know exactly what the problems and issues are, the challenge is how to implement these solutions and create positive outcomes.


Denis St Bernard Photo courtesy httpjamaica gleanercom

Denis St Bernard. Photo courtesy http://jamaica-gleaner.com

When asked by host Dervon Malcolm if he thinks that the problem of crime, violence, corruption and lack of trust are the things keeping the country from moving forward as it should, he answered by saying that Jamaica does not have a monopoly on crime, violence, corruption and lack of trust, these, he lamented are global challenges and we do, as a people and a country, have more positives going for us than negatives, he said that we should talk to the Nigerians, Chinese and Spanish who are currently investing in Jamaica about the tremendous opportunities they see here, while accepting the fact that locals do face real issues and challenges as regards to lack of resources, in the main.

St. Bernard was instrumental, through his company Priority Group International in bringing Nigerian ICT Company Courteville Group plc, a company listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, to acquire a Jamaican entity and will be investing over JA$ 300 Million and creating  between 50 to 100 local jobs over a 3 year period, this he cited as a small example of ‘waking the talk’, ‘we have not made any pronouncements  or promises, we just did it, the resources  came from our own pockets, hard work and sweat, now we know how to do it. Jamaica needs more doers and less talkers, doers will put their money where their mouths are and risk their capital to make it happen, he went on to add that they are not the only ‘walkers’ around and the environment needs to be created with the necessary incentives to ensure that more of the ‘walkers’ begin to come forward while pushing most of the talkers in the back, explained St.Bernard.


He went on to add that what makes him optimistic about the success of this year’s Diaspora Conference over the last 6 years he has attended, apart from having a new dynamic Director of Diaspora Affairs, Ambassador Sharon Saunders, someone with a proven track record of success at the helm, is that he believes that the state of the country now dictates that a serious diaspora engagement is critical, also the fact that the passionate Jamaicans abroad are now becoming a bit more open for this engagement. He concludes that the Diaspora is Jamaica’s biggest and most important asset which needs to be effectively leveraged to grow the economy. Already there are some interesting initiatives on the table, one of the major game changers which stands out is the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) online trading platform, which now allows Jamaicans in the Diaspora to buy and sell stocks and shares online where ever in the world they may be. The JSE now boasts of securing the highest returns on investments in a safe secure environment and this naturally will enhance foreign direct investments (FDIs) into Jamaica.

Jamaican and Caribbean Diaspora can now be found in every corner of the world from villages in the African continent to mainland Europe, Asia, the USA, Canada, Australia and South and Central America. Despite how far they travel and live they always maintain that strong link to their homeland, the increasing numbers now attending these conferences and the increasing annual remittance and FDIs is testimony of this.

The new structure this year, where for once the Jamaicans overseas will be given lots more time to engage and be listened to, will make a massive difference’. This has been a major complaint from the Diaspora for many years. ‘They are the clients, therefore we need to listen to their needs, how they are prepared to engage, spend their money and appreciate their expectations etc. ‘It feels good all around this year,’ ended St.Bernard.

Denis St Bernard is the UK spokesperson on Diaspora Business at CENUK



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