Photo caption:Continental Airlines Area Sales Managers were recently guests at the Grand Lido, Negril. They were hosted to a cocktail party held in their honour. Joining them (L-R standing) are Grand Lido Resident Manager Mr. Joey Issa; Judith Hill (Assistant Manager) and Michelle Hacker (Social Director).
Science and wellness advocate Joe Issa is awed by the work of scientists which has shared light on what is referred to as one of the central mysteries of human life: why we need sleep, and how it happens, as he urges citizens to sleep right for a better and healthier life.
“I think we all know that sleep is important to the proper functioning of the body, and we feel it the next day if we have not had enough sleep. Some of us take it seriously and ensure we have sufficient sleep; but some don’t, and they pay for it in the end.
“So I’m urging everyone to develop a regular sleep pattern and ensure that you get enough sleep,” said Issa, noting, “This discovery is remarkable and far reaching in terms of building awareness and understanding of the existence of our biological clock.
Issa was hailing the work of Jeffrey C Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W Young, who received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for Medicine for understanding the mysteries of how life tracks time and changes itself according to the movement of the sun, which explains what is called the biological clock.
According to The Independent, the Nobel Prize in medicine was given to the three scientists “for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm”, or the biological clock. Their work helped illuminate one of the central mysteries of human life: why we need sleep, and how it happens.
The Circadian rhythms are the ways that the body keeps itself regulated with the passing of the day, and that the process can affect sleep, behavior, hormone levels, body temperature and metabolism. They show why disturbed sleep – like in the case of jet lag, or people with insomnia – can have terrifying knock-on consequences, like an increased risk of various diseases, the article said.
The researchers reportedly discovered that all types of life on Earth – from plants to humans – regulate their body clock using the sun, with special technologies inside the body. They showed how the body clock can disrupt the central ways the body works, including things like metabolism, and explained how if it is thrown off it can cause huge problems for people and other parts of life.
Catastrophic’ lack of sleep is killing us, scientist warns
The researchers “were able to peek inside our biological clock and elucidate its inner workings”, according to the Nobel committee’s citation for the more than $1m (£750m) prize. The discoveries “explain how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with the Earth’s revolutions”, it said.
The work didn’t reveal any tips for regulating our own circadian rhythm or improving sleep, said experts. But it was a reminder of the importance of doing so – and of keeping good sleep hygiene, by ensuring that people maintain good sleep patterns and keep themselves in sync with the sun, they said during the press conference.
It said the win comes soon after one of the world’s leading sleep scientist argued that a “catastrophic” lack of sleep is slowly killing us and spreading damage throughout society.
The laureates reportedly used fruit flies to isolate a gene that controls the normal daily biological rhythm and showed how this gene encoded a protein that accumulates in the cell during the night and degrades during the day.
Thomas Perlmann, secretary at the Karolinska Institute Nobel Committee, described the reaction of Rosbash when first informed of the award: “He was silent and then he said ‘you are kidding me?’.”
Medicine is said to be the first of the Nobel Prizes awarded each year. The prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace were created in accordance with the will of dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel and have been awarded since 1901.
Nobel medicine laureates have included scientific greats such as Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin, and Karl Landsteiner, whose identification of separate blood types opened the way to carrying out safe transfusions.
According to the article the prize has not been without controversy, especially with the benefit of hindsight, such as with 1948 award for the discovery of DDT, a chemical that helped battle epidemics but was later banned due to its harmful environmental impact.
North coast hotelier, Mr. Joe Issa, of the SuperClubs group of resorts, is the recipient of the first annual L.B. Creary Memorial Quality of Life Award for exemplary humanitarian and philanthropical public service, in the parish of St. Mary.
The award is given to the person, who, in the judgement of the awards committee, does the most during the past year, to uplift the standard of living for the less privileged in St. Mary, particularly through the Kiwanis Club, of that parish.
The award was presented to Mr. Issa jointly by Mrs. Norma Creary, widow of Mr. Luneville B. Creary, after whom it is named; and Mr. and Mrs. Creary’s son, Mr. Richard Creary, secretary of the St. Mary Kiwanis Club.
Introducing Mr. Issa at the awards ceremony, another of the Creary’s sons, First Life Insurance executive, Mr. Don Creary, praised Mr. Issa for his “unselfish, caring and extraordinary interest in helping the less fortunate of the parish”. Mr Creary added, “Mr. Joey Issa richly deserves this honour, award and distinction today!”
Mr. Issa was humble in his acceptance speech. He said, in part, “Assistance in this endeavor is necessary. The less privileged among us must always be at the forefront of our thoughts. I am thankful and grateful I am in a position to be of assistance, in this manner.”
Mr. Issa went on to encourage others in a similar position as his, to help the less fortunate. He congratulated the St. Mary Kiwanis Club for what he described as its “sterling example of humanitarian assistance to the community,” and pledged his continued personal assistance to the club.
Mr. L.B. Creary was a civil servant, returning officer and philanthropist. He died four years ago.
Mr. Issa, 27, was, until recently, the general manager for SuperClubs’ Couples Hotel, St. Mary. He took up the position of general manger of SuperClubs’ newest resort, Sans Souci Hotel and Spa – renamed the Sans Souci Lido – on November 1.
Mr. Don Creary was named St. Mary Kiwanian Of The Year, 1992/93, at the awards function.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) Joe Issa has come out in support of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) recently signed between the Tax Administration of Jamaica (TAJ) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica (ICAJ), stating it creates an appropriate forum for tax reform in Jamaica.
“Talk reform and you are on the right track. The operative word is to reform; that means doing the right things better for yourself and those who are impacted. In other words, the more you do the right things, and the better you do them, the more benefits that will accrue to those who are impacted by what you do.
“But for that to happen things have to change both in what we do and how we do it, to create greater effectiveness and efficiency, respectively. They are equally important; for it’s no point doing the right thing only to find out you are not doing it right; or, even when you think you are doing the thing right, it turns out you are doing the wrong thing.
It’s like doing what the people want but not how they want you to do it. This has broad application, including how we do business. Such as importing and exporting and investing and creating jobs,” said Issa, who has not only spoken of the need for local corporations to pay tax but thinks that instituting a rate that is above what obtains in Jamaica’s trading partners is putting domestic firms at a disadvantage relative to their foreign counterparts.
He explains further: “The TAJ is doing the right thing by ensuring tax compliance, but like most similar cases they need guidance and assurance that they are going about it the right way; that’s where I see value in the MoU.
Issa was commenting on a recent MoU signed between TAJ and ICAJ to strengthen longstanding collaboration on matters related to the country’s tax system.
“The concept, which has been adapted from the Canadian Revenue Authority’s model, underpins the establishment of a Consultative Committee that will provide a forum for dialogue between senior officials and members of the TAJ and ICAJ on a wide range of issues,” according to the Observer.
These reportedly include the sharing of information on existing and proposed compliance programs to identify improvements; the identification of opportunities for collaboration with taxpayers; and revisions to protocols facilitating taxpayers, based on legislative amendments, among other things.
The committee is to be co-chaired by TAJ Technical Specialist, Bevon Sinclair, and Head of the ICAJ’s Tax Committee, Allison Peart. They were among the four representatives who co-signed the MoU at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston recently.
The signing also included TAJ Commissioner General, Ainsley Powell and ICAJ President, Raymond Campbell and was witnessed by Finance and Public Service State Minister, Fayval Williams. The signing occurred during the TAJ’s ‘Let’s Talk Tax’ forum, which was held under the theme: ‘Tax Compliance in Jamaica’.
Powell was quoted say the MoU provided “an excellent opportunity to strengthen the TAJ’s strategic relationship with the accounting fraternity in ongoing efforts to further improve the administrative procedures and processes driving Jamaica’s tax system.”
He also anticipated that “both organisations collaborating to identify the necessary changes that result in improvements in the overall system will redound to the benefit of taxpayers thereby engendering greater voluntary compliance,” according to the newspaper.
Marketing Guru Joe Issa who sees business opportunities as far away as the United States, Europe and Asia is suggesting that Jamaican companies could target mega-spending holidays abroad such as Black Friday as potential opportunities to market their products.
Issa, who is said to have studied in the US and continues to host his classmates for periodic reunions, operates one of Jamaica’s most prominent online companies, clicketmarket.com, a subsidiary of his Cool Group of over 50 companies that are being leveraged internationally
“Black Friday is the most significant spending day of the Thanksgiving weekend. It starts on Thursday and ends on Cyber Monday. That is mega sales we can tap into, both in the US where the tradition began and now the UK where it has since spread.
“Think of the enormous sums our Diaspora people will be spending for Thanksgiving weekend this year, especially on Black Friday; that is more Jamaicans than we have living here.
“If we start advertising our products online early enough it will allow our people out there the opportunity to order Jamaican products for their families and friends, including their non-Jamaican friends. If I know our people well, it will provide an opportunity for them to show off all that’s Jamaican.
“Moreover, we will not only be targeting our Diaspora but also US and British consumers who would now be well acquainted with Jamaica; thanks to our music, sport, culture and heritage that have made us popular the world over,” said Issa. who is known to have popularised Reggae music on campus and at nightclubs in Worcester, Massachusettes where he attended university.
Issa added: “However, we have to be prepared to make the necessary investment and form alliances with our US and UK counterparts to ensure that the Jamaican products are readily available for delivery to customs on time based on the standards there, as well as to give the appropriate discounts to attract sales.”
According to The Independent last year Britons spent a record £5.8 billion over the four days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, representing a 15 percent increase on 2015, quoting VoucherCodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research (CRR).
Of the £5.8 billion, online retailers are said to have taken some £2.8 billion – a 20 percent increase from the £2.3 billion posted in 2015. On Black Friday itself, an estimated £1.27 billion was spent by consumers in the 24 hour period – up 16 percent on 2015.
Black Friday this year falls on November 24, the day after Thanksgiving and is followed by Cyber Monday (November 27), which used to be a separate event in its right until last year when it merely became an extension to the Black Friday weekend, it is said.
The term Black Friday originated from Philadelphia, USA, in the early 1950s. It used to describe a pre-Christmas day of wholesale carnage. Online retail giant Amazon introduced the concept to the UK in 2010 and Asda, which is owned by America’s most prominent retailer Walmart, is said to have followed suit in 2013.
“Even with these high sales Black Friday is still entirely trumped by China’s Singles Day, the world’s biggest online shopping day of the year which finished on November 11, 2016, with Chinese shoppers spending $17.8bn (£14.2bn) in 24 hours.
Jamie Merrick of Salesforce Commerce Cloud is quoted as saying that UK retailers did not discount as heavily as those in other countries. Noting that consumers in the UK saw prices cut by an average of just 9%, compared to Germany (23%), France (26%), the United States (29%) and Canada (36%).
In 2016, Ikea, Asda, Next and Homebase are said to have been among those who did not participate in Black Friday. M&S and Selfridges, which reportedly took some part, held weekend-long Christmas-themed sales instead.
“Following feedback from customers that they wanted low prices throughout the festive season and not just for one day, Asda decided to step away from Black Friday,” said an Asda spokesman.
Asda, which was hailed in 2013 when it came onboard to spread the US phenomenon of Black Friday in the UK, hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons when scenes of shoppers wrestling over discounted televisions made front page news.
In 2016, John Lewis is said to have trumped brands such as Apple and Amazon to take the top spot as the nation’s most popular brand for Black Friday. The department store also took the top spot for tech-specific purchases, followed again byApple, Amazon and Game. However, Debenhams appeared to have won the fashion war, the Independent wrote, quoting data from voucher website, Vouchercloud.
St. Ann’s Chamber of Commerce Past President Advisory Committee member Joe Issa has tipped the economic growth momentum experienced in 2016 to continue into 2017.
“This year I expect higher growth in the economy than what we experienced last year when some of the policy measures implemented earlier in the year showed good results towards the end.
“2016 finished on a high note which will reverberate throughout this year to provide the momentum needed for improved performance…it’s what can be called the piggy-back effect…success feeding on success to achieve even greater success,” Issa posits in an interview on the outlook for Jamaica in 2017.
Noting he had seen the latest growth figures Issa says, “I am encouraged by the stats and more so when disaggregated as all sectors seemed to have pulled their weight…it all adds up and tells a story of increased output, consumer confidence and employment…the prime minister has been personally pushing the BPO sector so we may well be seeing the impact in the numbers.”
According to tradingeconomics.com Domestic Product (GDP) figures show that the economy of Jamaica had grown 2 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2016, the highest since the second quarter of 2014. The outturn for the September 2016 quarter was also higher than the 1.4 percent recorded in the second quarter.
The 2016 third quarter statistics also show that both goods and services played a part, which analysts say is the best structure within which to grow the economy.
Agriculture, forestry and fishing which has benefitted from a renewed focus on import substitution and greater linkages with the tourism sector improved from a growth rate of 9.4 percent in the second quarter to 29.1 percent in the third quarter.
Mining and quarrying also responded with the growth of 2 percent in the third quarter from -1.9 percent in the second, while manufacturing was up 0.1 percent from 0.6 percent in the second quarter.
Increases were also said to have been recorded for electricity and water supply which grew by 2.5 percent in the third quarter compared with 5 percent in the second quarter.
Hotels and restaurants grew from 1.3 percent in the second quarter to 2.2 percent in the third. Transport recorded growth of 0.5 percent compared with 0.7 percent in second quarter.
Further comparison shows that the GDP outturn in the September 2016 quarter was much higher than the 0.14 percent average recorded from 2003 to 2016. A record high of 2.2 percent was recorded in the fourth quarter of 2003, and a record low of -2.10 percent was posted in the third quarter of 2014.
Dr Wayne Henry, director general of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), agrees with Issa, not only on the strength of the growth experienced in the third quarter of 2016 but also what it means for the country.
Stating that the pace of growth represented the most reliable estimate since April-June 2007, Dr Henry said at a PIOJ quarterly press briefing that “overall, the projected out-turn largely reflects the positive impact of higher levels of business and consumer confidence and increased employment levels with supported increased demand.”
“This was also reflected in increased construction activities with the building of new, and refurbishment of existing hotel rooms, the build out of office space to facilitate the expansion of the business process outsourcing industry, and road rehabilitation and expansion work,” the Gleaner quoted Dr Henry as saying.
Executive Chairman of Cool Corporation Joe Issa has described as responsible and reassuring the move by the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) to secure Jamaica’s number available for the next 25 years.
“It is a responsible move on the part of the OUR, to ensure that sufficient telephone numbers are available to satisfy the needs of individuals and businesses for the next 25 years.
“It is also reassuring for people and the business community, regarding their long-term growth plans, as it could be quite disconcerting not knowing what will happen when we use up the 876 quotas of telephone numbers.
“Now that we are assured that enough numbers are available to accommodate planned expansions over the long term, this will act as a big incentive for businesses to implement present plans for long-term growth and that of the economy.
“The move could also make Jamaica more attractive to foreign investments which have a high demand for telephone numbers, such as the emerging BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) industry,” said Issa.
Issa was commenting on the announcement by the OUR, that Jamaica now has another area code – 658 – in addition to the existing 876 and that the new code, which takes effect on May 31, 2018, mandates ten-digit dialling – the 3-digit code plus the 7-digit number – for all local calls.
OUR explained, however, that there will be an adjustment period – the permissive dialling period – lasting at least five months, during which a recording will remind clients to dial the current 3-digit code if they forget and dial only the 7-digit number. After the permissive dialling period is ended, all local calls will require ten-digit dialling to be completed.
The new code is to be used in addition to, and not as a replacement for, the existing 876 area code; and the introduction of ten-digit dialling will not increase telephone charges, nor require current telephone numbers to be changed.
However, clients, especially businesses and government agencies are being encouraged to start adding the current 876 area code on all their printed materials and signage.
Users of alarm services and solutions with automatic diallers, and operators of PBX systems are also advised “to contact their respective service providers to ensure that their systems will be compatible with the new numbering and dialling arrangements,” OUR said.
“It became necessary for Jamaica to get an additional Numbering Plan Area (NPA) code…to ensure that there are sufficient numbers available to satisfy growth in demand for these resources over the next 25 years,” the agency was quoted explaining.
Under the Telecommunications Act, the OURis fully responsible for the allocation, assignment (to service providers) and usage of telecommunication numbers in Jamaica.
After much sensitisation of stakeholders, visitor harassment in resort areas is said to be declining, an era longed-for by one of Jamaica’s most passionate tourism advocates Joe Issa.
Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism
Joseph “Joey” Issa
“I have always longed for the day when tourists can walk the streets especially in resort areas without being harassed, can drink coconut and talk to vendors, can enter our craft markets and boutiques, and can buy what they want when they want without being posted to open their wallets and purses.
“No one deserves to be harassed; it is a frightening experience even for us as locals let alone visitors. The downside of this is they may immediately return to the comfort of their hotel, and we would have lost on that spend. An even bigger problem is they may not return and discourage others from coming to Jamaica.
“Unlike any other business, tourism is our business, whether or not we participate in it and at whatever level because our collective responsibility – which is considered our most critical role – is to be friendly to our visitors, which proudly is largely the case.
“The few who try to spoil our tourism product – which is underpinned by our friendliness – must reconcile their critical role in the survival and expansion of tourism in Jamaica, on which so many people depend, including, quite likely, their relatives.
“But it is refreshing that the minister’s measures are working. He has initiated a sensitisation programme to include even judges, which I thought was a pretty good idea since they are the ones who hear cases of harassment in their courts and dispense justice,” said Issa, member of the St Ann Chamber of Commerce Past Presidents Advisory Committee.
Issa was responding to JIS News that anti-visitor harassment measures being implemented in resort areas are bearing fruit, quoting Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.
Bartlett reportedly gave credit to the training programmes and sensitisation workshops for frontline industry representatives interacting directly with visitors; and heightened vigilance and patrols by resort security officers.
Bartlett was cited saying that the positive outcomes are evidenced in Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) visitor opinion surveys which show that 60 percent of the tourists visiting Jamaica recently were satisfied with their experience.
“Also noteworthy is the fact that 42 percent of our visitors are repeat guests. Our intention is for those numbers to be even higher as the visit should resonate so well with those who land on our soil, that they will unhesitatingly and consistently give us an A+ rating,” he was quoted as saying.
The anti-visitor harassment measures are enabling guests to move around more freely, which contributed to Jamaica being recently voted the number one Caribbean destination and among the top 20 globally, by the highly respected American travel and restaurant website company, TripAdvisor, Inc., a feat on which Issa commented recently.
These developments are welcomed news for the Administration, in light of industry stakeholders’ concerns that unless visitor harassment is decisively addressed, it could potentially erode brand Jamaica’s reputation as a highly sought-after destination of choice for tourists, and overshadow the sector’s record visitor arrivals and foreign exchange earnings, said JIS News.
It said while acknowledging the favourable outturns emanating from the interventions; sector interests also urge that these be sustained, and others introduced, to avoid the onset of complacency that could give rise to the resurgence in the prevalence of visitor harassment.
It is a point which Prime Minister Andrew Holness, reportedly emphasised while speaking with stakeholders during a recent tour of Falmouth, Trelawny.
“A guest who does not feel pressure is more likely to spend and interact. That guest is also more likely to come back with his or her family for a longer stay, which is a win-win (situation) for all of us,” he was quoted as arguing.
It cited him further emphasising the importance of training, noting that those who interact daily with visitors should be cognizant that “what we deem as normal” is not necessarily something that visitors are comfortable with.
Training and certification are being facilitated by the Government through the newly established Jamaica Centre of Tourism.
Additionally, the Falmouth Tour Guide Programme reportedly provides training designed to equip persons, deemed simple guides, with the skills and inputs that reposition them as official industry ambassadors.
“It all boils down to the knowledge that the guest must at all times feel free to walk the streets without feeling pressured to buy anything. A happy guest will always be willing to spend and, most importantly, will go back and spread the good word (about their experience),” Holness was quoted as saying.
Mere days following concern expressed by local businessman Joe Issa about rising unemployment in the Caribbean, within the context of the region’s physical vulnerability and an institutional barrier to aid, Sir Richard Branson has echoed the same sentiments.
Sir Richard Branson
Joseph “Joey” Issa
The head of British-based Virgin Group Sir Richard has reportedly advocated for a Marshall Plan for the Caribbean, similar to the aid package the US provided to rebuild Western Europe after World War II.
Caribbean governments are said to have been calling on international organisations, multilateral development banks, and developed countries for years, to formulate a significant economic package of aid and debt relief.
However, alas, according to a Jamaica Observer article titled, “Why Sir Richard Branson is Right on the Money”, the international community may listen given the recent battering which the Caribbean countries received from hurricanes, noting that Sir Richard’s timing demonstrated his political acumen.
For his part, Issa, whose Cool Group strategy has been likened to that of Branson’s Virgin Group, has on more than one occasion argued against using per capita income – as aid donors do – to disqualify Caribbean nations from receiving much-needed assistance.
Issa said, “The reality is that Caribbean countries are battered every year by hurricanes and need vast sums to rebuild. Some are known to have been hit more than once during the annual hurricane season.”
More recently, in an article titled “‘Remove the Impediment’: Joe Issa Supports Case for Vulnerable Caribbean States to Access Concessionary Loans”, Issa supported a move for the reconsideration of the income per capita criterion established long ago which disqualifies Caribbean states for concessionary funding to support their annually-battered economies.
Issa argued that “it is not fair for Caribbean states to be denied access to soft money because of their supposedly middle to the high-income status which, in any case, reverses every year after the battering by hurricanes.”
He explained that due to their high per capita incomes, countries like Antigua & Barbuda and Dominica, which were ravaged by Category 3 hurricanes, have advanced or graduated from the low income Least Developed Country (LDC) designation to Upper Middle Income.
Issa was at the time supporting United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’call for special consideration to be made for mid to high-income vulnerable states that have been “deprived” of concessional loans, following his visit to hurricane-battered countries, leaving trails of death and destruction estimated at billions of dollar.
“The fact is that even though these countries have graduated as middle-income countries, they have some vulnerabilities that need to be taken into account if we want them to be sustainable as middle-income countries,” Guterres reportedly said.
In an effort to promote and sustain economic growth, Caribbean governments are said to have pursued fiscal policies, which have contributed to a build-up of external debt.
Caribbean countries are now believed to be the most indebted countries in the world, with some, like Jamaica, having a Debt/GDP ratio of over 100 percent, which is way above the maximum 75 percent recommended, if sustainable economic growth is to be resumed, the article said.
It noted that the situation is now “at a point where a significant policy initiative has to be mounted to reduce the debt significantly, this would ease the liquidity constraints, solvency risk, and allow governments to increase public investment in infrastructure, education and health.
“The debt burden has to be reduced by strategy combining (a) restructuring of multilateral debt; (b) reduction of bilateral debt by debt swaps for climate mitigation, environment, education and cancellation; and (c) conversion of commercial debt into multilateral debt.”
It argued that “the Caribbean, without doubt, needs a Marshall Plan to build resilience and lay the basis for sustainable economic growth,” suggesting that the United States, which is the region’s primary trading partner, must have a hand in it.
According to Wikipedia, “the Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) was an American initiative to aid Western Europe. In which the United States gave over $13 billion (approximately $132 billion in current dollar value as of October 2017) in economic support to help rebuild Western European economies after the end of World War II.
“The plan was in operation for four years beginning on April 8, 1948. The goals of the United States were to rebuild war-devastated regions, remove trade barriers, modernise industry, make Europe prosperous once more, and prevent the spread of communism.
“The Marshall Plan required a lessening of interstate barriers, a dropping of many regulations, and encouraged an increase in productivity, labour union membership, as well as the adoption of modern business procedures.”
Popular Ocho Rios businessman and philanthropist Joseph John Issa, CD received the insignia from the Governor-General of Jamaica, His Excellency The Most Honourable Sir Patrick Linton Allen, at the national
and awards ceremony at King’s House on Heroes Day October 17, 2016.
Inspired by the words of late American journalist Charles Kuralt who once said “the love of family and the admiration of friends are much more important than wealth and privileges,” Issa has dedicated the medal to his family and friends.
“This is for my wife and children,” he says, as he holds up the insignia, adding, “especially my son and daughter whom I want to grow up believing that hard work and a good heart will pay off in the long run…it’s a proud moment for us…I am humbled by the recognition for doing what comes naturally to me.”
And to his many friends who have encouraged and supported him throughout the years, he says, “This is for you too…it’s a lasting manifestation of your contribution,” citing in particular, Father Howard James, a Roman Catholic Priest in the parish of St. Ann where Issa’s Cool Group of companies is headquartered.
Father James, who was born in London, England and raised in Jamaica, left the country as a boy and became the first Caribbean national to be ordained a priest in Britain. He met Issa in 1998 when he came to work in Ocho Rios as a priest. He says, “Joey always struck me as a kind, very generous and capable man.”
Touched by Issa’s philanthropy over the years, Father James has several recollections, including the day his car broke down ten times and it became clear that the church needed a reliable vehicle. “Joey led the charge to get the money, most of it from him without any burden on the parish,” noting “this is the measure of the man.”
When Issa, who is also a Eucharistic Minister of the Catholic Church was about to get married in 2003, Father James had already left Jamaica, but Issa, who had kept in touch asked him to return to conduct the ceremony. He says, “The generosity of the man is such that he asked that a collection be taken at the wedding to help educate young people.”
“Joey did the same thing for his 50th birthday celebration,” the priest also recalls, “when he told his friends and loved ones not to buy presents, but instead make a financial donation to the church to help the less fortunate and educate children.”
Issa’s many philanthropic gestures have also been praised by the media in Jamaica and the United Kingdom where, as a student at the London School of Economics (LSE) he founded the ‘Educate the Children Fund’, which raised over £3,000 to purchase Mathematics and English textbooks for students in Jamaica and other Caribbean islands.
When he returned from university he established ‘Global Education 2000’, which focuses on improving the physical condition of schools, increasing literacy among young children and fostering better relations between schools and the communities in which they exist, and with their counterparts in the United States (US). Since then, several local schools and teachers have benefitted through exchange programmes with US counterparts.
Issa also founded the ‘Cool Charities/Holy Cross Scholarship Fund’ which, along with other educational programmes, has been described by the Jamaica Observer as “a cool half million a month to education.” According to the newspaper, the scholarship programme also includes ‘Computers 3000 Education’, a project which donates air conditioning units and computers to educational institutions, thereby making for a more comfortable learning environment and giving more students access to the worldwide web.
Today, Issa’s philanthropic quest for less fortunate Jamaican children to receive a good education, to which he was privileged, continues through Cool Charities, a subsidiary of his multi-faceted group of over 50 companies, which defines his business strategies that have been likened to those of his colleague Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group of over 400 companies, whose ‘Centre of Entrepreneurship – Caribbean’ located in Montego Bay Issa supports as a mentor for young entrepreneurs on the programme.
A highly recognized multi-award-winning business strategist locally and internationally, where he is leveraging his Cool Group, Issa’s national honour is as much for his contribution to Jamaica’s business landscape partly through his presidency of the St. Ann Chamber of Commerce, as it is for his corporate citizenship, which Father James seems to value even more.
Says he: “While many will speak about his business skills, I speak to the good husband and father, churchgoer and philanthropist. He has never said no…I try not to bother him too much, but he has told me never to be afraid to ask him for help for others. So I believe it was only right that a national honour should be given to him so that everyone can know about the generosity of this very kind man.”
Not known to get carried away by his own success and wealth, allied with his desire to contribute to the education of children, Issa finds much comfort in a quote by late 19th century teacher, attorney, soldier, writer and Freemason Albert Pike from Boston, Massachusetts, where Issa studied at College of The Holy Cross in Worcester, graduating valedictorian and cum laude while becoming Jamaica’s youngest Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
Self-taught with the distinction of being the only Confederate military officer with an outdoor statue in Washington, D.C., Pike’s sentiment resonates with Issa when he wrote, “What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
Today, 125 years after his death, the Albert Pike Memorial Temple in Little Rock, Arkansas is a historic Masonic lodge listed on the National Register of Historic Places, according to Wikipedia.