Interviews

Top Entrepreneur, Kirk-Anthony Hamilton, “Bullish” on Jamaica for Business

Kirk-Anthony Hamilton Photo by Michele-Anne Hamilton
Written by Xavier Murphy

Kirk-Anthony Hamilton, recognized by United States President Barack Obama in 2015 as one of the 75 emerging global entrepreneurs and the sole representative from the Caribbean in this group, believes that Jamaica represents an excellent place for doing business. Hamilton says he is “bullish, hopeful and positive” about Jamaica’s potential, noting that the country’s new government won on its message of “Poverty to Prosperity.” He also cited the previous government’s success in passing numerous tests imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Hamilton expects that Jamaica, as a globally recognized brand, will fulfill the underlying hopes of its citizens that the future holds positive things for the island. Hamilton has communicated his message about Jamaica to the World Economics Forum in Davos, Switzerland as one of the 50-Under-30 leaders from the Global Shapers Community, as well as to the World Bank and the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica.

Where in Jamaica are you from?
I was born in Kingston at the Nutall Hospital.

What do you see for the Future of Jamaica in the next 10 years?
I think Jamaica is sitting on an untapped goldmine of economic potential, so I see a very bright future for our nation and our people. I’d like to help shape a more inclusive Jamaica, in standing with our motto to ensure that all our citizens are able to live meaningful lives and enjoy a reasonable standard of living. In 10 years I envision Jamaica as a thriving country, the cultural and creative capital of the world and a hub for musicians, artists, innovators, makers and entrepreneurs to meet. We will optimize our tourism brand to derive greater benefits from our visitors and better integration between locals and foreigners, we live in a big world and it’s important for us not be isolated in our efforts. I think the Jamaica of the future is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, and though it may sound far fetched, just think, our under development actually makes it easier to implement the most recent technologies and essentially leap frog ‘first world nations’. A simple example would be digital currency, the U.S. can’t circumvent major players in the payment space, they’re too big to fail, this inhibits entry by other players presenting new solutions. In Jamaica these players are limited in presence so we don’t have the same concerns, very quickly we can empower all our citizens with the option of a mobile wallet. I am positive this will drive a significant increase in transactions revolutionizing our economy.

Why do you believe so much in Jamaica?
Just look at Israel. How is it that a place with almost permanent historic civil unrest has managed to maintain an attractive global image and welcome the best and the brightest to invest and do business? I travel to all these global summits and when I listen to the difference in how global leaders and influencers perceive Israel vs Jamaica – it’s actually mind blowing. Once you experience this, you realize nothing is impossible.

Tell us about Destination Experience And How you started it?
When I was 25, I got the opportunity to host something called the Global Party in Kingston. It turned out to be the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, but probably the most worth while. A few years later when I was getting ready to do it all again, a mentor of mind asked me, why aren’t you building your own brand, your own legacy? Something global coming from Jamaica and I agreed, so I got to work building the Destination Experience.

What are you most proud of so far?
Being honored by President Obama at the White House. I was always taught to dream big, but I don’t think I knew what big was; encountering the President of the United States is just not a day to day thought in the Caribbean, further more being recognized by him, but increasingly I’m realizing absolutely anything is possible.

What is in the future for The Destination Experience?
In addition to scaling the concept to other countries, we’re seeing numerous opportunities for the future and direction of our brand as a segway into some key industries. What we have so far is a global ecosystem of like-minded individuals so we are interested in how we can leverage that. I don’t think there is a better designed ecosystem for the promotion of real estate investment opportunities – I studied architecture and my entire portfolio includes luxury hotels around the world, so it’s a natural fit and something we are pursuing. We are also looking more closely into the deal making capacity of our space, when wealth meets there is always opportunity, so there is always room for us to develop a private investment firm to execute on the opportunities. My business the Infiniti Partnership is already focused on crafting on opportunities, so this would just be a part of our evolution. We are always interested in considering qualified partners for any new business.

The book I am reading right now is…
I don’t read nearly as much as my contemporaries think I should, but I absorb tons of content by attending more conferences and meeting with more people than any of them do. I just finished ‘Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the quest for a fantastic future’, and I am about to start reading ‘Throwing rocks at the Google Bus’, which I just picked up at the Digital Life Design Conference in New York after listening to the author speak. I’m also going to listen to ‘Good Strategy, Bad Strategy’ on audible – so I’m improving I think.

The one Jamaican food I can’t live without…
I love Jerk chicken and also ackee and saltfish with bammy.

 

About the author

Xavier Murphy