Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is calling on parents to encourage their children to become entrepreneurs, as this cohort can significantly aid in spurring the growth of the economy.
“I would say to parents that you need to start to have this kind of conversation with your children about them becoming entrepreneurs, about them understanding what risk is about, about getting the ideas and the innovation [and turning them into fruitful ventures],” he said.
The Prime Minister was speaking at a function to honour the work of business mogul, Ian Levy, at the AC Marriott Hotel in Kingston, on December 15.
He further urged parents to impress upon their children to not only see themselves as consumers and workers “but people who can take the ideas that they have in their heads, go to the banks, go to a financier or go to a friend and mobilise the equity; who can take the risk of taking on a loan, renting a space for a factory, pulling all those factors of production together and making something of it,” he said.
At the same time, Mr. Holness implored Jamaicans to be more receptive towards entrepreneurs and the value they bring to the country through the opportunities they create and the resources they garner.
“It is an unfortunate element of our culture that people who are entrepreneurs and people who engage in risk-taking and people who go out and mobilise resources are sometimes looked upon in a negative way… but if we are to truly embrace the vision that we have of ourselves – Jamaica, the place of choice; Jamaica the great nation – we must, as a country, start to embrace our entrepreneurs and our businessmen [and women]… . We need our business people and we must encourage them,” he emphasised.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister hailed Mr. Levy, whom he has known for more than a decade, as “a great human being, a great person” who is very passionate about his various endeavours.
“You are passionate about whatever it is that you believe in and whatever it is that you support, and that passion is unmistakable because it comes with a high level of loyalty to whatever it is that you support and believe in,” he said.
The Prime Minister also praised Mr. Levy for exercising his social duty as an entrepreneur and giving back to the society.
“You have certainly exhibited the social conscience that comes with having great wealth and success… . It is always admirable to see someone who has achieved great wealth and success giving back,” Mr. Holness said, pointing to his long-time work with Missionaries of the Poor, and recently assisting children getting tablets and other devices to connect to the Internet during this time when distance learning has become necessary.
The Prime Minister further noted that Mr. Levy has also been involved in many other charitable and philanthropic endeavours, and is also a mentor of young people in business in Jamaica.
Taking in a more personal tone, Mr. Holness thanked Mr. Levy for being a good friend and being there for him “during the difficult times that I have had, during various periods of challenge”.
“Ian has been a great support unconditionally, and I am forever grateful for your support, your advice and your friendship and open door. It means a lot to me,” he said.
“I consider it… a great honour to acknowledge the work and worth of a great friend and a human being with a kind heart, with passion and determination who has Jamaica’s best interest at heart and has worked very hard to build value and create opportunity in Jamaica. [He is] more than a businessman; [he is] a great philanthropist and a great person,” he added.
Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke; Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill; and former Minister of Finance, Dr. Omar Davies, who were in attendance, also had high praises for the accomplished businessman.
Mr. Levy is one of the founders of gaming and lottery company, Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL). He retired as Deputy Chairman and Director of the SVL Board in July this year.
He is also the Chairman of Ian K. (Agencies) Ltd., a company that has negotiated several contracts with French companies on behalf of the Government of Jamaica.
Among the many awards for his work, Mr. Levy was bestowed with two Orders of Distinction in the rank of Officer in 2012, and in the rank of Commander in 2016 for invaluable contribution to the business sector. Notably, he also received one of the highest national awards the French government can bestow on a non-national, the Chevalier de L’Ordre National du Mérite (National Order of Merit) in 2005.