Success Stories

The FINPYME ExportPlus programme is an initiative of the Inter-American Investment Corporation. The programme provides technical assistance, training and financial support to SMEs in developing countries.

Heather Laine has been designing and creating beautiful clothes for the past 22 years. Its CEO, Zoe Heather Summers, says that Heather Laine’s designs are inspired by the Jamaican woman: The Heather Laine style is very flowing and comfortable – “comfortable chic” as Zoe describes it. She says that comfort is important to the Caribbean woman:

  • In addition to selling in their Kingston boutique, Heather Laine creates a line of resort clothing which is sold in resort shops in Jamaica, the wider Caribbean, and more recently in Florida, as they seek to expand their overseas markets.
  • Export Max help has been invaluable in expanding their export market. JAMPRO helped them to prepare for trade shows, develop a marketing plan and make contact with potential overseas clients. “They even came into the factory to help us improve our productivity”, as well as giving assistance in obtaining financing. “JAMPRO has my back, and has been extremely helpful”, Zoe declared.

Heather Laine's designs are inspired by the Jamaican woman, Zoe Heather Summers shows a customer one of her unique pieces.

For more information on Export Max I and Export Max II, click here.

 

This moment created what is now the only company making candy in exclusively Caribbean flavours, Sweetie Confectionery. Aarons, the company’s CEO, left her full time career in marketingto pursue a dream of owning her own business, and manufacturing candy that Jamaicans bothhome and away could enjoy.

 The early days were challenging; Patria-Kaye had to start small and starting small means becoming skilled in many areas quickly. “I did everything!” she said, “Chased orders, supervisedproduction, delivery…, everything. It was exhausting but well worth the effort and helped meappreciate every role.”

Managing the workload was only half of the challenge. Patria-Kaye had to make the transition from employee to entrepreneur, “It’s a BIG jump from being a kick butt marketer to being a kickbutt CEO, especially in a field that’s new to me. Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship and the Scotiabank Vision Achievers Programme really helped make me make that transition.”

There were also difficulties related to the development of the formulae for the candy. She worked with the Scientific Research Council to create the flavour profiles for her products, “The Scientific Research Council is a little known gem. The team there helped with the development of my formulations so that now I can offer the world a jackfruit sweetie with all the yummy taste and none of the smell.”

With drive, determination and a keen eye for opportunities, Sweetie started to expand its reach across Jamaica. In its first year of business, the company quickly grew to distributing their products to 150 locations. Then came exporting, “JAMPRO gave me my first exporting break,” explained Patria-Kaye, “Because of their Business to Business matchmaking session at the Diaspora Conference in 2015, I met Noel Dempster, my distributor in London.

I pitched to him in Montego Bay, Now, the company is exporting to the USA, UK and US Virgin Islands and has launched three products.

 Aarons said she is sometimes overwhelmed with the success of the company, “I can’t send brittle to the UK fast enough, and Paradise Plum flies off the shelves everywhere.  The business is growing faster than my pocket can keep up with.”

She attributes the company’s success to the large market interested in Sweetie’s products. 

With the Diaspora, Jamaicans at home and persons living in other Caribbean islands, there are millions of persons who appreciate the taste of tropical fruit candy, and are attracted to the nostalgic feeling when consuming traditional products like the “Paradise Plum”. Patria describes Sweetie as driven by the possibility of bringing a little piece of paradise to an under-served Caribbean people.

For the future, Aarons aims to have a 10% share of the Caribbean confectionery market over the next five years. In addition, she intends to launch a new product format, new flavours and export to two new markets every year for the next five years.

With all of this success, it is not surprising that the CEO has only positive things to say about starting a business in Jamaica, and recommends that other Jamaicans follow suit. She shared her perspective on doing business in Jamaica, saying,

 “Jamaica has many untapped opportunities. I encourage everyone to critically look at everything they interact with. Ask the question, “Where was this made?” And if the answer isn’t Jamaica ask “Why not?” and “How can I make it here?”

With her resolve to excel, Aarons looks forward to the future of Sweetie with positive ambitions, and sees many possibilities on the horizon.

 

Entrepreneur Racquell Brown has translated her love and passion for Jamaica's flora into a lucrative line of exotic, all-natural skincare products. Operating under the Irie Rock Yaad Spa brand, Brown has developed a range of mood-boosting scents, namely: Papaya Path, Mango Walk, Coconut Sensation, Vanilla Bliss, Citrus Fields, Coffee Delight, Pineapple Express, Watermelon Fresh and Jamaican Cocoa Butter.

Her products are available in most of Jamaica's high-end boutique properties, as well as in pharmacies and gift shops across the island.   

“Hotels are currently my biggest customers, as well as spas and gift shops. Those products usually only reach to the tourists and I would like to expand to locals and pushing that as a core market,” she said.

Irie Rock has consistently participated in JAMPRO’s Business Linkages programmes, in particular the annual Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) tourism trade fair. In 2012, the Irie Rock brand benefited from favourable exposure in the Commonwealth Secretariat-sponsored Spring Fair International in the United Kingdom. Irie Rock products are sold in Trinidad and the Bahamas, and Brown is seeking to find markets in the UK and North America.

Brown applauded JAMPRO’s ongoing efforts to facilitate her spa line, noting that the agency provides her with constant feedback, updates and invitations to useful and informative trade events.

Since entering the Jamaican market in 2001, Digicel has become the fastest growing wireless telecoms operator in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. Over the past 11 years, the company has invested over US$1 billion in the country and has expanded its international customer base to 13 million across its 31 markets in the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific.

 

Digicel’s markets comprise Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Bermuda, Bonaire, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, El Salvador, Fiji, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Nauru, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, St Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Tonga, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos and Vanuatu. Digicel also has coverage in St. Martin and St. Barts in the Caribbean.


The company officially opened its US$60-million regional headquarters in downtown Kingston in March 2013. In his remarks at the official opening, Denis O’Brien, Chairman and founder of Digicel Group, stated: “I must thank our loyal and valued customers and of course our fantastic staff. The Digicel success story is built on the efforts and hard graft of our talented and committed people – and our global expansion has been fuelled by the ongoing efforts of our amazing team right here in Jamaica.”


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