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Editors' Forum | Hooked on Jamaica - Migrating not attractive to some youth leaders

Published:Sunday | November 4, 2018 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris
Beneficiaries of this year’s Youth Leaders of the Americas Initiative (from left) Andre Robb, Nicolene Witter, Rory-Craig Richard Walker, Shawneil Bailey and Gavin Lindsay at a Gleaner Editors' forum last Friday.

Despite the many push factors, a majority of the beneficiaries of this year's Youth Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) have declared that they are convinced that they can achieve their dreams in Jamaica.

The group of young people recently returned to the country after five weeks of internship in the United States under the YLAI, which is sponsored by the US Department of State and the Meridian International Center and was launched by former US President Barack Obama.

It affords youth leaders an opportunity to advance their entrepreneurial ideas and network.

While spending time in the US was a very fulfilling experience, founder of Zarabelle Limited, Shawneil Bailey, said she does not have any interest in migrating.

"Honestly, in Jamaica, there is so much opportunity to build, there is so much opportunity to create an industry and dominate, as in my case," said Bailey, whose management service company uses online database to match those in the production industry with talent.

Bailey was among several of the young leaders who shared their experiences with editors and reporters last Friday during a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the newspaper's North Street office.

"I am committed to Jamaica," declared Bailey.


Live in Ja, Earn in US


Gavin Lindsay, who co-founded the Jamaican tourist company Merit Holding Limited, said he, too, is committed. He argued that given the increasing access to the Internet, Jamaicans can live here and work in a regional or global marketplace.

"The key to living in Jamaica is living here and earning in the US," advised Lindsay.

"While our spending power is weaker, if I can earn more US from Jamaica, my life would be much better," added Lindsay, as he pointed to his achievements already through his entrepreneurial endeavours locally.

Founder of High Flyer Educational Services, Jamellia Imani Blythe, said that while she is not driving a luxury car, she was able to buy a house and car as well. Her business offers alternative educational solutions, and she finds that her services are needed by those is the diaspora.

"A lot of people, they ask me that question, why don't you leave Jamaica? But I always tell them, when you live in a third-world country, there are opportunities similar to what I am doing right now. I went to the States, I saw it being done, I know people doing it there. Why can't it work here?" she asked.

For Nicolene Witter, Jamaica provides an opportunity for young people to be creative.

"If there are a lot of problems, then there are always going to be solutions, so there is always an opportunity to solve something," she said.

After seeing several of his friends achieve success after migrating, Rory-Craig Richard Walker admitted that he struggles with the urge to leave, but he also wants to stay in Jamaica.

Walker argued that Jamaicans make the decision to migrate based on their own circumstances.