MAY 18, 2013

Lady Allen and I are very pleased to be sharing in this celebratory service to mark the 25th Anniversary of the establishment of the Jamaica National Building Society’s Office in the United Kingdom.  It is certainly very good to see so many Jamaicans and distinguished friends of Jamaica gathered here on this occasion.

Every now and then advertisements catch your imagination. There is one advertisement which I particularly like: it is the Jamaica National Building Society’s mantra: “We’ll help you find a way:”

  • That holds an immediate appeal for those of us who have suffered the readiness with which people seem to find a problem with every proffered solution.
  • It grabs the attention of small farmers, small business persons and parents struggling to make ends meet, or individuals striving to attain their career objectives.
  • It says to us: “Do not give up on your dream, because we are here to help you attain it”.

That is what JNBS has been for hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans at home and abroad, and no doubt, in the twenty five years since its establishment here in the United Kingdom, its clients have found it to be so.  Your presence here attests to this!

However, I want to refer to the history and track record of this truly Jamaican financial institution which began as an offshoot of the Christian ministry of Reverend Henry Clarke in 1874.  This Anglican missionary sought to use his influence and position to improve the lot of the black population and the Indian indentured servants in a society where emancipation was no more than the absence of slavery.  To him, a modicum of economic independence was a way of restoring the human dignity of persons still gripped by the psychology of slavery or who remained oppressed by the plantation system.

Is there any wonder that with a beginning such as this, today’s JNBS demonstrates a keen sense of corporate social responsibility!   There is scarcely a worthy national cause in Jamaica which has not received some form of sponsorship from the JNBS. Initiatives such as programmes preparing the next generation of Entrepreneurs, Centres of Excellence in education, community information technology centres and Junior Achievement programmes, are just some of the ways in which JNBS remains true to its promise of giving back to the communities in which its branches are located.  These programmes testify to the JNBS commitment to prepare our young people for a better future.

In Jamaica in May 2011, I launched the “I Believe” Initiative whose basic mission is to promote programmes that restore hope, belief and sound values in Jamaica’s families, youth and education. Among those private sector leaders who encouraged me then were the Chairman of the JNBS Board of Directors, Mr. Oliver Clarke, and its General Manager, Mr. Earl Jarrett. They continue in their firm support of the Initiative.  They share my conviction, the mantra of the IBI, that there is nothing wrong with Jamaica that cannot be fixed by what is right with Jamaica. I am encouraged by the way they lead by example, volunteering their time and resources for the greater good of our people.

JNBS is among those Jamaican companies which have demonstrated that they are a key aspect of what is right about our country and that they are integral to the solutions of the problems we confront.  I commend the innovation which they bring to community outreach and development, the investments they make in the lives of our youth, the values they transmit, as well as their sterling examples of leadership with integrity, vision and effectiveness.   Those progressive companies, at the very core of our private sector, send the strong message that Jamaica is indeed on a mission for the transformation of our nation, a transformation which will see us achieving our Vision of becoming a place in which people choose to live, work, raise families and do business.

It is a message which reaffirms the linkage between our people in the Diaspora and Jamaica. We want you to return home regularly to enjoy the wonders of our country.  I was overjoyed that you returned by the thousands to celebrate our Golden Jubilee and now I encourage you to remain engaged for this next phase of our journey towards the realization of our vision for Jamaica.  We look forward to welcoming many of you to the 5th Biennial Diaspora Conference to be held in Montego Bay next month, to not only explore more ways in which you can participate in our growth strategies, but also to reconnect with family and friends.

I wish for the JNBS abundant success as you continue to deliver quality, innovative service for the enhancement of the lives of our people both in the Diaspora and in our homeland.

Thank you and may God bless you all!