By Dwain Rattray
Pride Contributing Editor
TORONTO, Ontario – As the third largest financial institution in Jamaica, and with 139 years of solid record, the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) stands as a bastion of responsibility for corporate philanthropy not only in Jamaica and the Caribbean, but also throughout the United Kingdom and North America.
The culture of the organization is succinctly expressed by Jerrold Johnson, who is Interim Chief Representative Officer of JNBS in Toronto: “We are about helping to benefit the lives of our members,” he says.
Mr. Johnson was speaking during a reception at the International Centre in Mississauga, on Friday August 9, 2013, hosting JNBS General Manager, Earl Jarrett. Contributing to the strong bond that has existed between Jamaica and Canada, Mr. Jarrett was visiting Toronto to serve as Keynote Speaker at the Jamaican Canadian Association (JCA) 51st Anniversary Gala.
A humble, soft-spoken man, there is more to Jarrett than meets the eye, and certainly more than fits into his impressively extensive resume.
Joining JNBS in 1997 as Executive with responsibility for Compliance and Overseas Subsidiaries, he was appointed General Manager in 1999.
A member of the Society’s Board and all its local and overseas subsidiaries, Jarrett is also Chairman of the JNBS Foundation. He is the Chairman of the Jamaica Automobile Association (Services) Ltd. (JAA), JN Overseas (US) Inc., JN Overseas (UK) Limited, and JN Overseas (Canada) Limited. Just this brief glimpse sheds light on the man that many consider the face of JNBS.
Sitting at the helm of various initiatives geared toward developing and maintaining a better quality of life for Jamaicans, both local and Diasporic, it is no surprise that Earl Jarrett has been conferred with the Jamaican Order of Distinction, in the rank of Commander.
He also received the Pelican Award from the Jamaican Chapter of The University of the West Indies Alumni, in recognition of his significant contribution to the development of the University and to Jamaica, and was conferred with the Doctor of Laws (LL.D) honoris causa by the University of Technology Jamaica.
It is to be expected then that this Chartered Accountant and a graduate of the University of the West Indies, would engage in programs designed to better the way of life for a people, on the micro and macro level. Jarrett notes that the purpose of JNBS is, “Not just for business, but to find out how together, we can strengthen each other as a people.” During his remarks, it was evident that he was passionate about ISupportJamaica.com an initiative of JN Small Business Loans Ltd.
In a society often blessed with ingenious ideas but plagued by financial obstacles, “I SUPPORT’s mission is to deliver innovative and accessible credit in a timely and profitable manner to micro and small entrepreneurs in Jamaica who have limited access to loans from traditional banking sources. The objectives of this project are to assist micro entrepreneurs to increase their income and improve the quality of their lives, create new jobs and to support the development of the Jamaican micro enterprise sector.”
Not constrained by financial initiatives, JNBS, through the Jamaica National Foundation, also supports creative avenues. One such venture is the Resolution Project, whose main goal is the promotion of advocacy through the art of Photography among high school students in rural Jamaica. But the Resolution Project is much more than a photography competition. “Photography is a powerful tool for advocacy, because photographs can and have changed lives,” says Jarrett.
That is the business of JNBS, and just as importantly the passion of Earl Jarrett – to improve the standard of living of a people.
It is for this reason that The Hon. Oliver Clarke, OJ, Chairman of The Gleaner Group and Jamaica National Building Society, will host a forum on Major Infrastructure Projects: Implications for Jamaica and Investment Opportunities for the Jamaican Diaspora.
Scheduled for the Omni King Edward Hotel on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 6:30 PM, a presentation will be made by Dr. the Hon. Omar Davies, MP, Minister of Transport and Works. Jamaica Panelists and Speakers will include: Dr. the Hon. Gordon Shirley, OJ, Chief Executive Officer, Port Authority of Jamaica; Mr. Ivan Anderson, Managing Director, National Road Operating and Construction Company; Dr. the Hon. Oliver Clarke, OJ, Chairman, Jamaica National Building Society and Dr. Earl Jarrett, CD, General Manager, Jamaica National Building Society.
Mr. Jarrett says it best, when speaking of collective responsibilities: “The consequence of failure [of a people] is not something we can manage.”