Jamaicans.com founder and chairman Xavier Murphy was recently featured in The Pitch Fanzine, a movement and media brand in the United Kingdom’s advertising creative industry. In an interview with Tega Okiti, Murphy talks about creating the innovative online platform and his vision for a better Jamaica.
Telling Jamaicans’ Stories
When Xavier Murphy founded Jamaicans.com in 1995, he was inspired by the statement, “Until the lion tells their side of the story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter. You have a story to tell, so tell it.” Realizing that the internet had enormous potential for providing information and connecting people, and at the same time noticing a gap in information sources and person-to-person connections for Jamaicans, he decided to fill the gap. Now, after 28 years, his visionary enterprise, Jamaicans.com, offers a place for Jamaicans to tell their stories. It holds a treasured place in modern Jamaican culture and has become a key online reference resource for information about Jamaica. The platform showcases the achievements of Jamaicans and celebrates the national culture with recipe collections, travel tips, entertainment news, and articles about the Jamaican language.
Murphy Makes His Move
Following his graduation from high school in Jamaica and moving to Florida, Xavier Murphy coded his first website, populating it with content from his print newsletter, “Nuff Respect.” With this action, he combined the two vital elements of the site’s success: his reverence for his community, and his experience working with electronic marketing on early platforms like AOL, Prodigy, and CompuServe. With the incorporation of a chat forum on Jamaicans.com, his online community focused on Jamaican culture was created. The connections created through the adoption of this early social media format allowed Jamaicans.com to survive in challenging times over the years.
Community To The Rescue
Murphy notes that it was the community that allowed Jamaicans.com to survive major challenges. He remembers that the site needed to scale up at the same time the dot-com bubble burst in the late 1990s. However, in spite of the crash, the number of visitors to Jamaicans.com continued to increase. This meant higher operating costs and a need to increase capacity. Forum members came to the rescue and held parties to raise funds to cover the site’s online hosting fees. “This was all before GoFundMe!” Murphy exclaims.
A Better Jamaica
Community values have always been at the center of Murphy’s vision for a better Jamaica. Expressing his vision, Murphy stated, “What I would like is simple: for everyone to be uplifted, not just those who already have, but also the have-nots. Ultimately, it’s about respecting each other, fostering unity, and growing the community.” He notes that one of his personal achievements involves the lifelong friendships and marriages that have resulted from interactions that take place on Jamaicans.com. He added, “Community molds you and makes you who you are in life. This is why giving back is important whether it’s a not-for-profit, mentorship, or ministry.”
Steering The Vision
Murphy now has a team to run the daily operations of Jamaicans.com, which frees him to further the vision he started with along with a board of directors. The content on the site continues its central role in encouraging exchanges between people, while the popular “Jamaicans to the World” video series provides conversations with Jamaicans living and working throughout the world in the Diaspora. This series serves as a resource and inspiration for Jamaicans, encouraging them to “dream big” and travel the globe by providing travel tips and special interviews with people like Romaine Welds, who has visited every country in the world. Murphy also plans to uplift the platform’s “Best of Jamaica Awards” program, which began in 2004. “If you are someone excelling as a person of Jamaican descent, the platform is where we will showcase you to the world,” he added.