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The Jamaican Startup Ecosystem – Who, What, Where and More

While the Jamaican startup ecosystem is growing fast, many aspiring entrepreneurs don’t know about all of the local resources available. Turns out that lots of people and organizations are doing lots of things in the start-up/innovation/entrepreneurship space. Since startup ecosystems can be fragmented, and hidden to newcomers – which is detrimental for local startups and community growth – here at diG Jamaica, we are trying to help share information to help foster collaboration and growth.
And here’s a great one to start with – who is doing what where. The Founder Institute Jamaica has prepared a handy resource: Jamaica Startup Resource List: 250+ Accelerators, Incubators, Investors, and more. This is a sequential list of resources for every stage of their startup journey. Plus, you can help build this resource as there’s Google Doc where anyone can comment at https://bit.ly/jamaica_canvas.
Click their link for more details but here is the infographic:

Jamaica Calendar of School Terms and Holidays – Academic Year 2018-2019

Please find below Jamaica’s Ministry of Education calendar of school terms and holidays for the academic year 2018 to 2019. Here you will find opening and closing dates for Jamaican schools, when examinations are taking place, and official dates for holidays.

The first/CHRISTMAS TERM of the school year will commence on Monday, September 3, 2018 and end on Tuesday December 18, 2018. The Christmas Holidays will be Wednesday December 19, 2018 to Friday January 4, 2019.  School will officially resume from Christmas Holidays on Monday January 7, 2019

The second/EASTER TERM of the school year will commence on Monday, January 7, 2019 and end on Wednesday, April 17, 2019.  Easter Holidays will be on Thursday April 18, 2019 to Friday April 26, 2019.  School will officially resume from Easter Holidays on Monday April 29, 2019

The third/SUMMER TERM of the school year will commence on Monday, April 29, 2019 and end on Friday, July 5, 2019.  Summer Holidays will be on Monday, July 8, 2019 to Friday August 30, 2019.

The 2019/2020 School Year begins Monday, September 2, 2019

The following dates are suggested for Mid-Term Holidays:

  • CHRISTMAS TERM (National Heroes Day Midterm) – October 11 – 15, 2018.
    • School resumes Tuesday, October 16, 2018 
  • EASTER TERM (Ash Wednesday Midterm) – March 6 – 8, 2019.
    • School resumes Monday, March 11, 2019 
  • SUMMER TERM (Labour Day Midterm) – May 22 – 24, 2019.
    • School resumes Monday, May 27, 2019 


  • Monday, October 15, 2018 – National Heroes Day
  • Tuesday, December 25, 2018  – Christmas Day
  • Wednesday December 26, 2018 – Boxing Day
  • Tuesday, January 1, 2019 – New Year’s Day
  • Wednesday, March 6, 2019 – Ash Wednesday
  • Friday, April 19, 2019  – Good Friday
  • Monday, April 22, 2019 – Easter Monday
  • Thursday, May 23, 2019 – Labour Day
  • Thursday, August 1, 2019 – Emancipation Day
  • Tuesday August 6, 2019 – Independence Day

Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Professional Development Days    TEACHERS’ IN-SERVICE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (SUMMER)

  • Primary School Teachers – July 8 – 19, 2019
  • Secondary School Teachers – July 22 – 26, 2019
  • CHRISTMAS TERM – Thursday, October 11, 2018
  • EASTER TERM – Friday, March 8, 2019
  • SUMMER TERM – Wednesday, May 22, 2019


  • Early Childhood Age 4 Assessment – March 11 – April 12, 2019
  • Grade One Individual Learning Profile (GOILP) – August 27 – September 14, 2019
  • Primary Exit profile (PEP) Performance Tasks (Grade 6) – December 6 – 7, 2018
  • Grade Nine Achievement Tests (GNAT) – May 10, 2019
  • Primary Exit Profile (PEP) Ability Test – February 22, 2019
  • Primary Exit Profile (PEP) CBT – April 17 and 18, 2019
  • Grade 4 Performance Task – May 30 and 31, 2019
  • Grade 5 Performance Task – June 20 – 21, 2019
  • Vocational School Leaving Certificate Examination (VCLCE) – June 10 – 21, 2019
  • Grade Three Diagnostic – June 5 and 6, 2019
  • Jamaica School Certificate (JSC) – July 8 – 12, 2019

CSEC, CAPE and CVQ Examination Dates

  • CSEC (January 2019)
    • Registration: August 20, 108 – October 4, 2018
    • Examination Dates: January 2, 2019 – January 18, 2019
  • CSEC (June 2019)
    • Registration: October 1, 2018 – November 27, 2018
    • Examination Dates: May 6, 2019 – June 7, 2019
  • CAPE (June 2019)
    • Registration: October 1, 2018 – November 27, 2018
    • Examination Dates: May 6, 2019 – June 7, 2019
  • CVQ (June 2019)
    • Registration: September 1, 2018 – January 24, 2019
    • Examination Dates: Coursework to be uploaded May 1, 2019 to June 10, 2019.  Online Registration System opens for submission of completed units.  Schools should submit the following documents to the Overseas Examinations Commissions:
      • External Versifiers Report
      • Internal Assessors’ Report
      • Achievement Sheets
      • Candidates’ Portfolio Completion Form

Fuel Prices – How Much Of It Is Taxes?

Hopefully you are enjoying the lowest gas prices since March 15, 2018.

This is in part due to the lowest crude oil prices since July 16, 2017.

However, we know that Petrojam uses the Weekly Gulf Coast Reference Prices. This week’s USGC Ref Prices would be the lowest since June 23, 2017.

So why aren’t our prices the lowest since mid 2017? Simple answer is, taxes.

The last Revenue Measures brought taxes to their current levels:

SCT on Fuel

In fact, comparing the last time diGJamaica broke down Petrojam prices was March 2012. Let us look at them:

Petrojam Items March 8, 201
Petrojam Items December 20 2018

As we can see here, the ex-refinery price for 87 gasoline today December 20, 2018 is actually $3.87 less than it was 6 years ago! However, taxes on the fuel have increased from J$25.43/litre to J$48.88 – a 92% increase.

For 90 gasoline, the increase in taxes is 91% and for auto diesel the increase is 97%.

What was the Gulf Reference Price in March 2012 you ask? US$3.12! More than twice the current price.

What about the crude oil price? The price of crude oil was over US$106 per barrel.

Additionally, taxes on fuels have been the main driver for Revenue Measures in our drive to move from direct to indirect taxation. Taxation on fuels has been projected to add J$23.6Bln to the Consolidated Fund since the 2015/16 fiscal year budget. (1)

So yes, oil prices are going down, and so are gulf reference prices. The prices at the pumps, however, aren’t returning to the good old days anytime soon.



Outreach Outlet

Our aim as an organization is to build a better Jamaica by building those individuals who often have no one to build them. We hope to foster a nation of caregivers with kindness and compassion at the core of who they are.
Amanda Johnson

Written by Danielle Mullings

Amanda Johnson, a student of St. Andrew High School for Girls, started Outreach Outlet in May 2018. This organization provides an avenue for teenagers, families, young adults and/or businesses to volunteer. Once an individual reaches out using her website, the service will be coordinated for them. All the individual has to do after that is show up. It’s that easy.

Outreach Outlet spreads its belief that students should participate in more community service activities. It provides a niche market as it caters for those who are unsure of the process behind volunteering at homes and organization, a market many Jamaican students and families represent.

diG Jamaica spoke with Amanda about her journey in creating Outreach Outlet. “My first project was a student from the Calabar High School”. Since then the organization has hosted students from The Immaculate Conception High School, St Andrew High School for Girls, Good Samaritan Club of St Andrew High and Prefects Association of Jamaica. Amanda noted the first family she hosted was that of Nadeen Matthews-Blair. The initiative has also been supported by a student of the Excelsior High School, Chesine McDonald. “Chesine donated her time to make Jamaican Sweets for all volunteers after discovering that I payed for each care package with my saved lunch money.”

One of Amanda’s biggest fears was that she wouldn’t have enough money or resources to execute it. For this reason, she did not act on the idea for years. It was not until attending a YCDI workshop that she found the courage to bring Outreach Outlet to life. “There is no better feeling than helping to build a nation. I never regret just taking that head first dive into doing what I love and watching it grow.”

Amanda sees the organization growing to be bigger than she has ever dreamed. She expressed her interest in expanding to accommodate international volunteer interests in addition to the current local market. Her team has also expanded to now include Ashleigh Onfroy – Social Media Manager and Diane Graham – Service Manager. Together, the Outreach Outlet team is committed to building Jamaica.

Click here to Sign Up with Outreach Outlet

Here is Amanda’s advice to youth who have ideas they are afraid to do:

  • Find a safe space where you can bounce your ideas off others.
  •  Keep people around you who inspire you to do more.
  • It will never be easy but it’s all about how much you want it, how determined you are, how disciplined you are and your faith in God. These attributes will serve as reminders that once there is a will, there is a way. 

Amanda also mentioned her that she attended the Wonder Women Tech Conference (courtesy of YCDI) where the founder, Lisa Mae-Brunson, offered her words of encouragement – “If it’s your dream, show up and show out regardless of who comes and you will never regret it”.

Management Of HWT Transport Centre Transferred To Transport Authority

The Management of the Half Way Tree Transport Centre in St Andrew has been transferred from the Port Authority Management Services Limited, a subsidiary of the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), to the Transport Authority.

The Port Authority Management Services Limited have been moved to the Transport Authority since the change took effect on September 1, 2018. Moving forward, the PAJ

This is an interesting turn of events as the PAJ was originally incorporated in 2007 with sole purpose of managing the Transport Centre Operations. The PAJ was appointed as the implementing agency for the construction of the centre and to be responsible for its management. In late 2016, it was agreed that the PAJ would be removed and the ownership would be transferred to the Transport Authority.

These changes were disclosed in a Ministry Paper from cabinet that was recently tabled in Parliament.



No Unfair Advantages With Plastic Ban – Senator Samuda

Government Senator Matthew Samuda says there will be no unfair advantages for manufacturers and distributors under the impending January 1, 2019, single-use plastic ban.

He was speaking at a ‘Consumer Talk’ on the ban, hosted by the National Consumers’ League, in association with the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), at the Bureau of Standards recently.

“The plastic ban will be implemented through a ministerial order under the Trade Act of Jamaica. There won’t be unfair advantages for any business group in Jamaica, whether large or small,” he emphasised.

He said that under the Trade Act, plastic bags 24×24 inches, plastic drinking straws, and imported expanded polystyrene would not be allowed for manufacture, distribution and importation by any Jamaican company.

“What the ministerial order will allow the Government to do is reinforce the ban within the business community, rather than target individuals,” he said.

Senator Samuda pointed out that breaches of the plastic ban could result in fines of up to $2 million or imprisonment for a maximum of two years, as outlined in sections 11 and 13 of the Trade Act.

He noted that no tax incentives or concessions would be administered by the Government under the plastic ban.

In 2016, Senator Samuda tabled a motion to ban a range of plastic and expanded polystyrene products. On September 18, minister with responsibility for the environment, Daryl Vaz, announced a ban on single-use plastic effective January 1, 2019. Plastic items under the ban include plastic ‘scandal’ bags 24×24 inches, plastic drinking straws and the importation of expanded polystyrene products.

5 Things to Know About Ms Universe Jamaica 2018

Following in the footsteps of Kaci Fennel and Davina Bennett, this year’s Ms. Universe Jamaica is Emily Sara-Claire Maddison.


Here are five things to know:

  1. Emily is just 19 years old. She is a recent graduate from Campion College in Kingston Jamaica. Maddison notes that her youth allows her the opportunity to face each situation as a challenge as she rarely knows what to expect.
  2. She plans to study psychology as she is fascinated by how the mind works.
  3. Emily works with Girls Who Know Jamaica through which she advocates for sexual and reproductive health rights of our young girls.
  4. She enjoys reading Manga and eating spicy food. Maddison is interested in following a healthy lifestyle and does yoga.
  5. She also loves the outdoors, especially the beach, and often visits one of her favorite spots, Strawberry Fields Beach, with friends.


Emily just placed in the top 20 finalists out of 94 contestants in the Miss Universe competition 2018.

Inflation Unchanged For November 2018

The inflation rate for the month of November 2018, registered 0.0% – or completely unchanged. This is remarkably, the second unchanged reading of the year (with May being the first) and even more notably, only the second time in at least the last 9 years that STATIN has recorded an unchanged inflation rate for a month.

Inflation rate for the year to date now stands at 3.54% and diGJamaica projects that inflation will come in below 2017’s 5.25%.

The inflation rate for the fiscal year to date (April 2018 to March 2019) is now 4.21%, but with the prices of oil falling it is too early to tell if this will exceed last fiscal year’s inflation rate of 3.68%, although it is looking likely.

Point to point inflation (November 2017 to November 2018) is 4.08% versus last year’s figure of 4.97%.

STATIN’s official press release offered some insight into the flat inflation rate:

“This movement was influenced by a 0.3 per cent increase in the index for the division ‘Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages’. This was as a result of higher prices for vegetables, starchy foods and fruits.

However this increase was tempered by a 0.8per cent decline in the division ‘Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels’ due mainly to reduced rates for electricity despite the increased rates for water and sewage. Additionally the ‘Transport’ division also
declined by 0.7 per cent as a result of a decrease in the price for petrol.”
Hopefully you enjoyed some of the decreases in the petrol, water, electricity and other fuel prices!

How Many Of These 12 Things Did You Know?

Jamaica is a land full of history and all sorts of interesting things to learn and know. Here are just a dozen of these things:

1. This town clock’s tower was paid for by one of Jamaica’s German settlers and he designed it to look like a German (Prussian)soldier’s helmet.


2. Who said “I would rather die in yonder gallows than be a slave another day” ?

Sam Sharpe.

3. Where in Jamaica had piped water before New York City did?

Falmouth. A 20 foot water wheel was installed in 1799 on lands at Martha Brae, which was turned by the current of the stream and emptied about 100 gallons of water per revolution into a wooden trough approximately 20 feet elevation. A six-inch main carried the water for about a mile into a large tank in the town square of Falmouth. The town square is still called “Water Square” as a result.

4. What is the tea made from Love Bush good for?

Colic, asthma and “mirasmi.”

5. Who declared that he would ascend to heaven on December 31st and descend back to Jamaica on January 3rd?

Alexander Bedward.

6. You can burn these leaves to keep away duppy.

Croton. (aka Rosemary)

7. What animals, now died out, were brought to Jamaica in the 18th century to carry sugar?


8. Why would you place a broom upside down behind a door in your house?

To make an unwanted guest go away

9. Solas Market became Jubilee Market. What was its name before that?

There are currently 4 main markets in Kingston : Jubilee, Queens, Redemption Ground and Coronation. Solas market was previously known as Chiggerfoot Market. Chiggers used to be a common complaint amongst slaves who rarely wore shoes. After emancipation, the term chiggerfoot eventually came to be applied to poor people. Several markets had this name, both in and outside of Kingston

10. What is the heart of a soursop said to cure?

Bed wetting.

11. The first commercially marketed oral contraceptive pills were derived from a species of this popular staple of the Jamaican


12. What do salt, limes, garlic cloves, a pair of scissors and wangla have in common ?

They can be used as guzu to guard against evil.

Cooper’s Hill Primary Students Learn Innovative Agriculture Techniques

“Farming can be very creative,” said Aika Nakakomi, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) volunteer, as she scooped up a handful of compost and sifted it in a plastic barrel cut vertically in half.

Creativity began just there, with innovative use of a plastic barrel which, she informed is among other recyclable materials namely plastic containers, bottles, and tyres.

Beside Nakakomi, a group of boys and girls, students of Cooper’s Hill Primary School in Portland, were digging up soil, preparing their school’s kitchen garden to be planted with saplings. The overcast skies and intermittent drizzle were not a deterrent, and all of the students were eager to get their hands dirty in the loamy soil.

“They (the students) love touching the soil,” said Nakakomi, who is assigned to the Portland 4H Clubs, that she was striving to inculcate farming in as many children as possible.

The school, established in 1910, is housed in a wooden structure sits in what could be one of most pristine locales of Jamaica surrounded by lush green mountains. Everything about the surroundings is refreshing.

The road is a different story, though. driving on which requires some serious off-roading expertise negotiating bends, corners, debris, rocks, occasional goats and roosters running scared and jumping for cover adventure uber unlimited.

The school administrators and students are making the best of the given resources and still manage to smile through the daily challenges.

“We are striving to teach gardening,” said Keisha King-Valentine, acting principal of Cooper’s Hill Primary School, and class teacher for Grade 4. “We encourage children to participate pro-actively, and since Miss Nakakomi has started visiting the school, we have learnt new techniques and especially making compost.”

Nakakomi is using the Takakura Method, to make the compost.

“This method,developed by Koji Takakura, is a composting technique used to turn leaves and food scraps into a nutrient-rich soil additive.

“The method uses two fermented solutions, containing micro organisms that are cultured from locally available materials, and a fermenting bed to create seed compost,” Nakakomi said. “Organic waste (food scraps) is mixed with the seed compost and left to break down in a ventilated container.”

Enjoying The Experience

Cooper’s Hill Primary School is one of the 12 schools that Nakakomi visits regularly to teach farming techniques in Portland. The students are enjoying the experience and are proud of the results, as they see the plants bearing vegetables growing in the kitchen garden that they planted and are nurturing.

“We have excelled in the past,” King-Valentine said, saying that the school has won awards from 4H.

Nakakomi is pleased with the outcomes, especially by gauging enthusiasm levels of the students. “They love to go outside,” she said as a group of students moved around the beds to dig cavities to transplant pak choi, tomato, and lettuce their assignment for the day.

“It would be good that children, especially boys, take up farming,” she said. “There are so many opportunities in farming, they are surrounded by land and the countryside here is ideal for farming.”

She is hopeful that the enthusiasm of these children stays with for a lifetime.

King-Valentine seconds Nakakomi. “We are trying to encourage the students to look at agriculture as a career option; we would love to have self-sufficiency in food and at the same time, open their minds to explore opportunities in different aspects of agriculture.”

Right now, she said, they are trying to see how to keep the neighbourhood fowls wandering into the school yard where they pick on the saplings. “We need a perimeter fence,” she said.

She is thankful for the kitchen garden, produce from which is used by the school cook shop, and the food waste goes back into making compost.

Innovative Methodologies

Apart from creativity in farming, King-Valentine said that the teachers are using innovative ways for imparting education. Since the school does not have access to Internet and with only one computer to be shared among the 50 students, the teachers download instructional and educational videos when they go home, and play them back.

“We have challenges in reading levels,” King-Valentine said, adding that the video tutorials are one of the methodologies to reinforce what is being taught in class. “We also have created a Whatsapp group among teachers and parents to keep them updated and informed.”

Outside, students were finishing transplanting, some lining, in front of a faucet to wash their hands and gardening tools as Nakakomi finished sifting through the compost and set it aside.

“It was a great experience,” she said. “Every time they (the students) come to the kitchen garden, they learn something new, and though it was raining, they completed the transplant exercise.”

Nakakomi, who has been in Jamaica for almost two years, is at the end of her tenure as a JICA volunteer, said she loves her work and admires what the students and the teachers in what they are doing. “I wish I did not have to go back (to Japan), and work with these children more.”

Also, she is hopeful that grow enthusiasm of these children would be on the crescendo, and go beyond their school’s kitchen garden to becoming a viable career option.

King-Valentine is upbeat and optimistic too about the outcomes and the legacy that Nakakomi is creating and will leave behind.

As for the road to Cooper’s Hill Primary School, it is, as we speak, and perhaps looking at the brighter side of life, it has all the key ingredients postcard perfect backdrop, a lush, green valley, a great locale for advertising all-terrain vehicles.

Of course, the path to progress is riddled with challenges they say, this is one we could very well do without.


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