CEO of First Global Bank, Mariame McIntosh Robinson (left) and Hotelier Chris Issa during a fire side chat at the SME summit.

First Global Bank, the commercialbank of the GraceKennedy group has established a one-stop SME Hub aimed at helping small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) across Jamaica to expand their operations. The SME Hub is part of FGB’s strategy to become the SME bank of choice in Jamaica. In line with the launch of the hub, FGB plans to completely shift and optimise SME lending with the deployment of eight new SME loan products tailored to specific industries. “This saves time for business owners while adding value by addressing their precise needs in a real way,” saidCEO of First Global Bank, Mariame McIntosh Robinson, as she addressed the almost 200 business owners at the FGB SME Summit on Wednesday. Prior to the launch of the SME Hub, small and medium business owners were forced to accept one-size-fits-all loans which, according to the bank, sometimes proved ineffective as the business model and turn-around time varied across industries. In light of the challenges, FGB said it has developed new loan products for livestock farmers, transport operators, BPO companies, distribution companies, small hoteliers and Airbnb hosts, manufacturers, farm operators, retailers and service professionals as well an SME line of credit, a new point of sale payment system and a cash-back SME Visa Credit Card. FGB’s SME summit comes on the heels of announcements made in the 2019 budget presentation by Minister of Finance, Nigel Clarke, which has prompted Jamaica’s business sector to prepare for changes. Minister Clarke estimated that 300,000 SMEs are to receive working capital at single-digit interest rates among other benefits as part of the Government’s $14-billion stimulus package. The event offered insights from several of Jamaica’s leading business leaders from the private and public sectors including from hotelier, Chris Issa; telecommunications entrepreneur, Chris Dehring; and businesswoman Jackie Stewart-Lechler of the Stewart’s Auto Group. Other speakers included Allison Peart of Ernst and Young Jamaica, Michel Campbell of Island Car Rentals, JAMPRO, the Development of Jamaica and GK Capital. Following the SME Summit, as part of the FGB SME Hub, entrepreneurs can benefit from further training and support through FGB’s BizNet workshops to be held later this year. In addition to events, the SME Hub will be providing qualified businesses with non-collateralised loans guaranteed by the Development Bank of Jamaica and capacity building through one-on-one financial advice.

Christopher Reckord, Chief Executive Officer at tTech Limited believes that technology is integral to solve problems and leverage opportunity in an ever-expanding digital world.

Information technology (IT) services provider, tTech Limited, is seeking to reshape the way business owners think of information technology at a conference on Friday, April 12 at Jamaica Pegasus. The event, dubbed “Tech Con by tTech aims to help business owners achieve and maintain sustainable growth through I.T. integration in their daily operations. The conference will provide key insights on optimizing business through applying the right I.T. strategies, identifying trends, looking at the legal framework and its implication on the use and storage of data, and the ever-pervasive risks of cybersecurity threats. Through tTech’s guidance, attendees will learn how they can position I.T. as a growth differentiator in their business strategies and how it can be used as a catalyst for innovation by helping them achieve more dynamic results. Christopher Reckord, Chief Executive Officer at tTech Limited believes that technology is integral to solve problems and leverage opportunity in an ever-expanding digital world. “At ‘Tech Con by tTech’ we can learn and share ideas about how using the right technology can take care of the mundane in daily business operations,” he said. Marcelle Smart, Consulting Manager at tTech Limited said: “I.T. is a driving force and enabler for businesses to attain sustainable growth. It is through effective value analysis and decision making that business owners and managers will increase their return on investment in technology that enables their business processes.”

 Elijah Mawli

Music insiders may remember reggae singer Elijah Mawli from the time he was featured on Twins of Twins infamous 'Stir it' volume 11 where his music was first introduced to the world in 2017. At that time, Elijah's raspy vocals and smooth guitar skills triggered interest in the reggae community. Now fast forward a coupleyears, and Elijah Mawli has now released his first single "Caribbean Love" on January 10, 2019 on the East Syde Records label. He also released an official music video which has racked up thousands of views. "The response has been incredible so far, the public loves the sound and feel of the song, and is a great blessing," Elijah Mawli said. Born Robert Aljoe-Al-Jahbar Henry to parents Vivene Young and Robert Henry, the recording artiste grew up in the green hills of St Andrew in a rustic community called Happy Grove. He attended StRichards Primary and later on Calabar High where his love for literature, specifically poetry, was first ignited. Elijah has a natural talent for writing. He developed a passion for writing songs as a youngster and then, later on, he began singing them at age 18. His musical journey as a recording artist began after he left high school and during college. "I loved poetry and that graduated into singing songs. I first knew I could sing when I sang a song to impress a girl when I was in grade 6, then as I grew older, I did poetry, then I began to write my own songs He taught himself to play the acoustic guitar to impress another girl who was migrating overseas. "I was trying to get her to change her mind, but she migrate same way," he said, laughing. Elijah's first single, the bluesy reggae song 'Caribbean Love' is inspired by her. Now that they are no longer romantically involved, it is Elijah's love for music, specifically live music, that has become his true north. "I love live music, it is my thing, nothing like going on my acoustic guitar and connecting with an audience, I can play a little bit on the piano as well, but live music is the thing," he said. Elijah prefers not to label his particular brand of music because his musical influences cover a wide range from reggae, dancehall, calypso, folk, country, pop, rock, jazz and blues. Three months ago, he inked a recording deal with East Syde Records, after developing a strong bond with the label's chief executive officer Romaine McFarlene. "I met Romaine after performing at a poetry event at Red Bones, and we build the link over time, and he said he loved my sound and the clean music I make, so we just started up this partnership," he said. Elijah is currently busy in the studio working on his EP, a collection of five songs set to be released soon on the East Syde Records label. "To dream is to journey to the fountain of youth, life's pinnacle. I write what I feel, we come from the earth, everyone goes through things, and we have to experience things to live, and that is the basis for my music, my experiences," he said.

In this Feb. 24, 2019 file photo, Barbra Streisand introduces "BlacKkKlansman" at the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

Barbra Streisand is coming under intense criticism on social media for telling a British newspaper that two men who say they were molested as children by Michael Jackson were "thrilled to be there" and that the alleged abuse "didn't kill them." In a wide-ranging interview with the Times of London, Streisand was quoted as saying she "absolutely" believed the accusers, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who make their allegations in the recent HBO documentary "Leaving Neverland." But the legendary singer also raised eyebrows by saying Jackson's "sexual needs were his sexual needs." In a statement emailed Saturday to The Associated Press by a representative, Streisand said: "To be crystal clear, there is no situation or circumstance where it is OK for the innocence of children to be taken advantage of by anyone. The stories these two young men shared were painful to hear, and I feel nothing but sympathy for them." She then added a note of implicit criticism of the boys' parents: "The single most important role of being a parent is to protect their children. It's clear that the parents of the two young men were also victimized and seduced by fame and fantasy." Jackson's estate has condemned the HBO documentary. The pop star, who died in 2009, was found not guilty in 2005 of charges he molested a 13-year-old boy.

Jamaica's Reggae Boyz suffered an away 2-0 defeat against Central American outfit El Salvador in their final match of the Concacaf Nations League qualifying play-offs on Saturday night. The game was playedat theEstadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador. The defeat represents the first for the Reggae Boyz who entered the game with three straight victories and fifthby an inferior goal difference in the standings. El Salvador, which entered the game 14th in the standings with six points, have now joined the Reggae Boyz on nine points. Following the qualifying rounds, teams will be placed in Leagues A, B, and C of the three-tier Concacaf Nations League. The Concacaf Nations League embraces a promotion and demotion system and will serve to seed teams and serve, importantly, as a qualifying platform for the expanded Gold Cup, which will have for the first time 16 teams for 2019 edition. The slip-up could easily cost the Reggae Boyz League A qualification were they not to end in the top-six of the standings. Prior to the match against El Salvador, the Reggae Boyz had defeated Cayman Island 4-0 at the National Stadium in Kingston in their opening game followed by a 6-0 thrashing of Bonaire in Curacao and a 2-1 victory against Suriname atCatherine Hall Stadium in Montego Bay.

Dave Cameron under pressure to remain as president of Cricket West Indies.

With just a few hours to go before the Cricket West Indies (CWI) presidential election, the Ricky Skerritt campaignhas continued to gain momentum with two more former players - Roger Harper and Deryck Murray - offering support. Skerritt and Dr Kishore Shallow will be vyingfor the positions of President and Vice-President of the CWI against three-term incumbents, Dave Cameron and Emmanuel Nanthan. Leeward Islands Cricket Board and Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board have stated that they will support Skerritt and Dr Kishore Shallow, while Cameron and Nathanhave thebacking of Windward Islands Cricket Board, Barbados Cricket Board, and Guyana Cricket Board. The Jamaica Cricket Association has not stated publicly who it will support but it is understood that the Wilford 'Billy' Heaven-led association has voted not to support its countryman Cameron. This situation means that a close race looms and an interesting day is expected on Sunday. Recently, the Skerritt/Shallow campaign has been getting the support of a number of former players, including Darren Sammy and Sir Vivian Richards. And nowHarper and Murray have joined the group supporting a change from Cameron. Harper, who was West Indies coach at one point, gave glowing tribute to the challenger. “During my time as coach of the West Indies team I had the opportunity to work closely with Mr Ricky Skerritt who was the team manager, I was able to observe Mr Skerritt’s management, organisational and communication skills first hand and I have no doubt that he will be able to build positive relationships with all of the relevant stakeholders in West Indies’ cricket to ensure that the West Indies team progresses to the top of our beloved game where it belongs,” said Harper. “Importantly, we need leaders who are responsible, objective and honest, who will put cricket first but treat the governance of West Indies cricket with the seriousness it deserves. I believe that Mr Skerritt and Mr Shallow will do that,” he said. Murray, for his part, believes there is hope for Cricket West Indies to change for the better, if those able to vote choose Skerritt and Shallow. “I am asking for full support of those who can vote, to cast it in favour of Mr Ricky Skerritt and Dr Kishore Shallow. I think their candidacy is a way forward for West Indies cricket and thank these gentlemen for putting themselves forward at this crucial juncture in West Indies cricket,” said Murray. “We all know that West Indies cricket needs radical change and hope Mr Skerritt and Dr Shallow can bring that to the table and I look forward to them taking over and improving the fortunes of West Indies cricket on and off the field,” he said. The CWI Electionsis set to get underway at 9:000 am on Sunday at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. Voting is expected to begin around 1:00 pm.