This week we speak to Quam Byll-Cataria a Jamaican entrepreneur who lives in Geneva, Switzerland. Quam also operates the website jamaicanexpansion.com a site dedicated to helping Jamaica with finding solutions to problems and highlighting positive deeds taking place in Jamaica through discussion, articles and networking. On a recent visit to Switzerland I sat down and talked to Quam.
Tell us about your connection to Jamaica?
It is the land of my birth and where half of my roots lie. I was born in Jamaica to a Jamaican mother and a Togolese father. Having traveled a lot, It is the place that feels the most like home.
How long have you lived in Switzerland?
I have been based in Switzerland for the past 22 years (I spent 5 of those years in Canada)
Why did you start the jamaicanexpansion.com?
I have always had a strong passion for Jamaica. Growing up around proud Jamaicans, there were constant conversations about Jamaica’s rich culture of achievement and how Jamaica’s greatness as a country had yet to be achieved due to certain factors. It didn’t matter what country I was in, those conversations kept taking place (I have had the privilege of being exposed to Jamaican circles in different countries and continents). I heard some of the greatest ideas I have ever heard while talking to Jamaicans. I felt that a website would be a great way for people to share those ideas, archive them, connect and inspire others.
Can you tell us of one problem and solution submitted you your website that would change Jamaica immensely?
A contributor submitted an article about the way some jobs are looked down on in Jamaica and how it affects productivity and the economy overall. The solution suggested that changing Jamaican society’s views on the job ‘hierarchy’ would cause people to have a more positive approach to their jobs, becoming more productive and professional in the process. This would inevitably lead to more investment.
You have a strong passion for Jamaica, do you plan to move to Jamaica in the future?
Definitely. Sooner than later.
Being a Jamaican living in Switzerland how do you keep up with what is happening in Jamaica? What websites you visit?
I follow what’s happening in Jamaica very closely. I visit a lot of Jamaican websites such as Jamaicans.com. For news, I usually visit the Gleaner and Observer websites. I recently came across On The Ground News too…
As a young entrepreneur what is the biggest lesson you have learned so far?
Have an unshakable faith in yourself and your dreams. Every day is lesson in humility as success is a journey.
What are the other projects you are working on right now? Does any of them involve Jamaica?
I am currently working on launching a clothing line and getting involved in the personal training business. They don’t involve Jamaica directly but will eventually.
What is the strangest question you have been asked about Jamaica and Jamaicans?
Someone once asked me if there were any businesses in Jamaica. What type of question is that?
How accessible is Jamaican food in Switzerland?
There are no Jamaican restaurants in Switzerland (to my knowledge). As far as ingredients, You can find things like scotch bonnet (Switzerland-grown) and plantain in mainstream supermarkets. You can also find ginger beer and red stripe beer. Overall, you can find most of the main ingredients to Jamaican dishes here. But seasonings and Jamaican brands are missing.
What is the one Jamaican food you cannot live without?
Thanks for the interview any final thoughts?
Thanks for the opportunity and thanks for making keeping an online connection to Jamaica easier over the years. Jamaica exists beyond its borders.