8 Wealthiest and Most Influential People From Jamaica
Joseph M. Matalon
Matalon is among the foremost leaders in Jamaica business, part of a family with a legacy of successful business practices for decades. He is the chairman of the ICD Group, a Jamaican investment holding company. For more than 20 years, his knowledge and expertise have been utilized in the areas of transactional finance, investments and banking in various institutions. He is the chairman of British Caribbean Insurance Co., the Development Bank of Jamaica and president of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ). He also is a director of the Gleaner Co. and Commodity Service Co. and a former director of the Bank of Nova Scotia (Jamaica Limited). In addition, he has been involved with a number of special committees to advise the government on financial and economic matters.
He is a self-made billionaire who started his career as a road engineer for the Jamaican government and gradually built his way up to chairman and founder of Portland Holdings, a thriving, privately held investment company in Jamaica. Additionally, Lee-Chin is executive chairman of AIC Limited and National Commercial Bank. Born in Port Antonio in the Portland Parish, the Jamaican-Canadian Lee-Chin also owns stakes in National Commercial Bank Jamaica and Total Finance in Trinidad and Tobago. His personal real estate portfolio includes 250 acres of beachfront property in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and homes in Canada and Florida, according to Forbes. He has been off the magazine’s billionaire list for the last four years, topping out at a net worth of $2.5 billion in 2005.
He belongs to an affluent family that acquired its wealth through sugar and Appleton Rum. He established himself as a music mogul more than 50 years ago. His rise included introducing the world to reggae. He produced music for artists like Ike and Tina Turner, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Burning Spear and Black Uhuru, among others. He is also the founder of Palm Pictures and creator of the Golden Eye Film Festival that honors Jamaicans who excel in the arts and music. He was awarded the Order of Jamaica for his exemplary work in the entertainment industry in 2004. The Blackwell family name has been the inspiration for “Blackwell Fine Jamaican Rum.” Blackwell currently runs Island Outpost, which is a conglomerate set up to run a group of resorts in Jamaica and the Bahamas. He has an estimated net worth of $180 million, according to celebritynetworth.com.
She is an attorney, philanthropist and influential presence in the Jamaican society circle. She and her husband, Mark, are working to bolster Montego Bay tourism. They announced two months ago a multibillion-dollar partnership project to construct 1,200 homes, a 48-acre tech park with enormous space for information technology that would bring 30,000 jobs and a new University of the West Indies that would accommodate up to 10,000 students. They estimate the investment value of this project to be $500 million. Her great-grandmother, Marion Louise Reece Bovell, was the first woman in Jamaica to run in the general elections of 1944 as an independent candidate. Kerr-Jarrett is connected by marriage to the prominent Jarrett family.
Dr. Blossom O’Meally-Nelson
O’Meally-Nelson is Jamaica’s first female postmaster general. She is the former pro-chancellor and chairman of Council for the University of Technology (UTECH). Against the background of her outstanding achievements in public service, O’Meally-Nelson is making inroads in the private sector with a family-owned logistics company, Aeromar Group.
Joseph John Issa
Known mostly as Joe Issa, he is the founder of Cool Group, a multibillion-dollar entity that is made up of more than 50 companies; the chairman of the SuperClubs all-inclusive resort chain, and vice chairman of the Gleaner Co. Issa is credited with introducing the all-inclusive concept into Jamaica more than 30 years ago. He introduced the concept during the tourism slump in the 1970s when many hotels were struggling to break even. It was and remains a booming success. He also maintains a commitment to helping the community, especially children from underprivileged areas in education. He said, ”Born into a rich family, I cannot imagine what it would be like going to school without lunch or books.”
Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart
Stewart reigns as the chairman of Sandals Resorts International, The Jamaica Observer and more than 20 other companies that fall under the Appliance Traders empire, one of the largest private-sector conglomerates in the Caribbean. He has a net worth of $1 billion. His working life began at the age of 12, when he borrowed his father’s fishing boat and began selling his catch of the day and ferrying the rich and famous between their anchored yachts and the harbor front. It was during those times he said he learned the elements of success.
Wayne Chen, the chief executive officer of Super Plus Food Stores, is also the man behind a massive expansion in the local supermarket business in Jamaica. Super Plus is a large supermarket chain with at least 30 stores across the island. He wears other hats, too: chairman of NCB Insurance Co. Limited and West Indies Trust Co. Limited. He is also a director of NCB (Cayman) Limited, AIC (Barbados) Limited and the Christiana Town Centre Limited. He is also a younger brother of billionaire Michael Lee-Chin.