#diGDiaspora: Jamaican Businessman Francis ‘Paco’ Kennedy posthumously honoured in US

The United States (US) Minority Business Hall of Fame & Museum (MBHF&M), headquartered in Plano, Texas, will recognise the contribution of the late Francis ‘Paco’ Kennedy, former executive director of the GraceKennedy conglomerate, and head of Kingston Wharves, a division of GraceKennedy. He is being posthumously honoured for his outstanding contribution in promoting closer business ties between the US minority business community, and Jamaica.

The MBHF&M was founded in 2004 by three American minority business leaders: John F. Robinson, president and co-founder of the 45 year-old National Minority Business Council (NMBC); Carol Daugherty Foster, editor of Minority Business News USA; and Don McKneely, founder and publisher of Minority Business News USA.

Since its inception over 60 entrepreneurs, educators, sponsoring corporate executives, administrators, and institutions representing and contributing to the minority business communities have been inducted. They include such luminaries as Earl Graves Sr, Harriet Michel, Hector Barreto Sr, Ernesta Procope, John H. Johnson, Reginald Lewis, Alexis Herman former US Labor Secretary, George Fraser, and the Kellogg School of Management.

This year’s  other inductees are Johnnie Booker, retired Coca-Cola executive, Berkeley Graham Burrell (posthumously) president and CEO of the National Business League, Norma Leftwich retired executive of the US Department of Defense, and Robert L. Wallace of BITHGROUP Technologies. Mr Kennedy is only the second executive to be honored who did not operate in the US business environment.

Mr Kennedy was the son of one of the founders of the GraceKennedy, now celebrating 95 years in business, and one of  the largest conglomerates  in Jamaica, with interests in food, shipping, finance, insurance, and manufacturing.

He was nominated by Julian ‘Jingles’ Reynolds, Jamaica-born, America-based entrepreneur, writer, and filmmaker who is a member and consultant with the National Minority Business Council, headquartered in New York, and serving the interests of minority businesses throughout America. The nomination was supported by Mr. John F. Robinson.

The NMBC through its international division NMBC Global headed by  NMBC co-founder Fritz-Earl McLymont, Jamaican born business consultant, has organized trade and investment missions to Jamaica and several other countries. It was on one of the missions in 1999 that GraceKennedy participated as a sponsor, that Mr. Kennedy approached Mr. Reynolds and his colleagues to assist the efforts of the Kingston Restoration Corporation of which he was chairman, in revitalizing the capital city of Kingston.

The relationship continued up until his death last year, and led to Mr. Reynolds establishing the Sounds & Pressure Foundation to contribute in the regenerating of Kingston. NMBC Global continues its involvement in Jamaica, exploring opportunities in the BPO industry, and working with Sounds & Pressure in its programs in cultural tourism development, skills training, job growth, and social development in downtown Kingston.

The MBHF&M has collaboration with the University of Washington Foster School of Business that houses its exhibit. Its board of directors led by chairman Ricardo Barrientos, the manager of supplier diversity of PepsiCo, is hosting the induction ceremony on Tuesday, April 25 at Morgan State University, in Baltimore, Maryland. Other sponsors are IBM, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, and Toyota Motor Sales USA.

Their mission statement, “Committed to preserving and recognising the contributions of individuals and institutions that were pioneers in the development and growth of minority businesses globally, and educating society on their accomplishments,” will be fully on display.