A list of the eight wealthiest and more influential people from Jamaica includes, Michael Lee-Chin, Joseph M. Matalon, Chris Blackwell, Paula Kerr-Jarrett, Dr. Blossom O’Meally-Nelson, Joseph John Issa, Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, and Wayne Chen.
Mr. Joseph Matalon is the chairman of the ICD Group, a Jamaican investment holding firm, and for over 20 years, he has applied his knowledge and expertise to transactional finance, investments and banking in several institutions, including the British Caribbean Insurance Company, the Development Bank of Jamaica and the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ). He is a director of the Gleaner Co. and Commodity Service Co. and a former director of the Bank of Nova Scotia (Jamaica Limited).
Michael Lee-Chin began his career as a road engineer with the Jamaican government, working his way up to his position as the chairman and founder of Portland Holdings, privately-held investment firm in Jamaica. He is also the executive chairman of AIC Ltd. And National Commercial Bank. Mr. Lee-Chin was born in Port Antonio, and is a stakeholder in the National Commercial Bank Jamaica and Total Finance in Trinidad and Tobago. He personally owns 250 acres of beachfront in Ocho Rios, as well as homes in Canada and Florida. He has been listed on Forbes Magazine billionaire list for the past four years.
Chris Blackwell belongs to a family that obtained its wealth via sugar and Appleton Run. He has been a music “mogul” for over 50 years, being instrumental in introducing reggae to the world and producing artists like Ike and Tina Turner, Bob Marley and Burning Spear. He is he founder of Palm Pictures and created the Golden eye Film Festival, which honors Jamaicans for their excellence in the arts and music. He received the Order of Jamaica in 2004 for his work in the entertainment industry. He currently operates Island Outpost, a conglomerate established to run several resorts in Jamaica and the Bahamas.
Paula Kerr-Jarrett is an attorney, philanthropist and leader in Jamaican society. With her husband Mark, she is working to promote tourism in Montego Bay. The couple recently announced a multibillion-dollar project to build 1,200 homes, a 48-acre technology park slated to bring 30,000 job to Jamaica, and a new University of the West Indies that would accommodate as many as 10,000 students. The value of the project is an estimated $500 million. Kerr-Jarrett’s great-grandmother, Marion Louise Reece Bevell, was the first woman on the island to run for office as an independent candidate in the general election in 1944. Through her husband, she is linked to the prominent Jarrett family.
Dr. Blossom O’Meally-Nelson
Dr. Blossom O’Meally-Nelson is the first female Postmaster General in Jamaica. She has served as pro-chancellor and chair of the Council for the University of Technology (UTECH). Along with her achievements in public service, she is applying her talents in the private sector with Aermar Group, a family-owned logistics company.
Joseph John Issa
Joseph John Issa
Joseph John Issa, known as Joe Issa, is the founder of Cool Group, a multibillion-dollar enterprise comprising over 50 companies. He is the chair of the SuperClubs all-inclusive resort chain and vice-chair of the Gleaner Company. He has been given credit for introducing the all-inclusive resort concept to Jamaica during the tourism downturn in the 1970s. Issa is also known for his community involvement, especially for helping underprivileged children in education.
Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart
Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart is the chair of Sandals Resorts International, the Jamaica Observer and over 20 other firms that come under the Appliance Traders umbrella. Appliance Traders is one of the biggest private sector conglomerates in the Caribbean. His net worth has been placed at $1 billion. He began his career at age 12 when he borrowed his father’s fishing boat and sold his catch-of-the-day, as well as transporting individuals from their yachts to the harbor front.
Wayne Chen is the CEO of Super Plus Food Stores and is behind a major expansion in Jamaica’s local supermarket business. Super Plus is a large chain with some 30 stores across the island. Chen is also a director of NCB (Cayman) Limited, AIC (Barbados) Limited, and the Christmas Town Centre Limited. He is the younger brother of Michael Lee-Chin.