Mon | Aug 2, 2021

Jamaican creates history among Amazon’s young couriers

Published:Tuesday | February 16, 2021 | 12:27 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/Staff Reporter
Cori Gordon, the Jamaica-born CEO of Cortoyou, a courier that has partnered with Amazon.
Cori Gordon, the Jamaica-born CEO of Cortoyou, a courier that has partnered with Amazon.
After toiling through punishing 80-hour workweeks, Cori Gordon took the plunge to start her own business.
After toiling through punishing 80-hour workweeks, Cori Gordon took the plunge to start her own business.
Left:  A childhood photo of Cori Gordon. The little girl from Bog Walk launched a company in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and is on the hunt for new business opportunities.
Left: A childhood photo of Cori Gordon. The little girl from Bog Walk launched a company in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and is on the hunt for new business opportunities.
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Being the eldest of nine children has prepared Cori Gordon to be a natural leader who today manages more than 50 staffers through the Amazon-affiliated company she started just nine months ago. Gordon, 28, migrated from Jamaica in 2013 and is...

Being the eldest of nine children has prepared Cori Gordon to be a natural leader who today manages more than 50 staffers through the Amazon-affiliated company she started just nine months ago.

Gordon, 28, migrated from Jamaica in 2013 and is today one of Amazon’s youngest delivery service partners (DSP).

Her start-up, Cortoyou, was birthed in the midst of the pandemic in June 2020 and is an independent courier partnering directly with Amazon to deliver packages.

Gordon grew up in Bog Walk, St Catherine, and worked in the retail and automotive industries after migrating. She quickly climbed up the managerial ladder, but working more than 80 hours per week took a toll on her. She googled business opportunities one day and came across the advertisement for Amazon’s DSP programme.

“I feel it is different when you are doing 80-plus hours for a company that is someone else’s, than when it is yours. You are a lot more emotionally invested in its success,” she told The Gleaner.

Gordon’s company delivers goods to Amazon customers in Staten Island and Brooklyn. The Northern Caribbean University alumnus has relied on the knowledge garnered while pursuing her first degree in business administration to operate her business.

The hiring process is perhaps the most strenuous part of her job, as retaining talent is a major struggle. Her company has recruited more than 120 drivers since its launch, but her core group is made up of 50 from varying backgrounds, with her youngest being 21.

“It’s such an honour for me, and I get so excited when an employee gets a new car, or a new phone, because I know their employment with my company is helping them reach their goals,” Gordon said.

“I have Jamaicans on my team as well and that makes me very excited when I get to interview one of my own,” said Gordon, who last visited Jamaica in 2019 and still has very fond memories of growing up in Bog Walk.

Amazon launched the DSP programme in March 2018 to share its experience in operations and logistics with aspiring entrepreneurs. The programme empowers entrepreneurs to build their own last-mile delivery companies from the ground up with Amazon’s support, infrastructure, technology, and a suite of exclusive services.

There are now more than 1,300 DSPs operating across the US, Canada, UK, Spain, and Germany. Together, they have created nearly 85,000 jobs. The entrepreneurs have generated more than US$4.5 billion in revenue for their small businesses.

Persons interested in the DSP programme can visit logistics.amazon.com for details. It’s definitely not a job for the faint-hearted.

Gordon had to undergo a video interview and then do multiple interviews in person with managers at Amazon after submitting her application in 2019. She then visited a pickup station and went on a ride with the drivers for the experience and then shadow one of the entrepreneurs in the programme. Then came the training.

“It’s not the kind of job where you will sit back and look pretty for months and it will just run itself; you must be invested,” she cautioned.

Gordon always has an eye out for new opportunities.

In August, Amazon announced a new diversity grant to help reduce the barriers to entry for black, Latino, and Native American entrepreneurs interested in starting a DSP.

With the launch of this grant programme, Amazon is investing in building a future for diverse business owners to serve their communities.

The US$1-million commitment funds start-up costs, offering US$10,000 for each qualified candidate to build DSP businesses in the US.

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com