There is a lot of ‘hype’ around at the moment about Going Green or Being Green, but what does it all mean? Being considered ‘Green’ is a lifestyle choice, where you have to get involved to make a difference by making changes to the way you live your life. It is all very well to interject this latest buzz word into conversations to make us seem to be ‘in the know’, but to make a quantifiable difference to the environment it takes more effort than just shedding some hot air on the topic. Tackling environmental issues goes wider than just looking at what is happening in Jamaica alone, it is a Caribbean issue, it is a global issue and it is an issue that we should all take a keen interest in. Which is why I have sought out a shining star in the making to give us all a greater insight into what Being Green really means and how it affects us…
Jamaica is a part of the wider Caribbean, a collection of islands brimming with beauty and brains. Not content with becoming a forward thinker within her own demographics, Jamilia Parris is a Barbadian on a mission to educate, inform and transform our lives. With a plan to make a difference that was hatched on the floor in her mother’s house over half a decade ago, Jamilia has been steadfast in her dream to get the message across. Green Age World is a fresh, young and green brand that is actually part of a portfolio of companies that Jamilia is heading to get people and organisations involved in Green issues. Jamilia took some time out from her busy schedule to answer some questions and I hope that her words will inspire you to jump to the ‘Green side’ with conviction!
1. Introduce yourself and your role in the company?
My name is Jamilia Parris. I am Founder and CEO of Green Age World and everything Green Age Caribbean (GAC). Currently, I wear all the hats. I do get some help and advice from experienced and capable friends and colleagues though.
2. When was your company established and why did you choose this career path?
I feel more like this career path chose me, I just accepted it.
3. What can we expect from your portfolio of companies?
People can expect to see a young and cool brand that’s all about living green. Don’t expect another NGO site or some boring execution. Nope. We’re going to pop up on your streets, or in your markets, you can interact with us on your smartphones and tablets and come for a chill with us on our website. We’re going to be everywhere you are and we’re going to give you things to check out, things to do, make you feel good and make you smarter, and most importantly, inspire and motivate you to take it green. The people are it, and we believe that, I believe that and our Caribbean people know that. Green is a conscious lifestyle not a task to save the World.
4. Where is your Head Office based and how do you serve Jamaica and the wider Caribbean?
There is no head office and I don’t intend for there to be one really in the foreseeable future. The office is wherever I and my future employees are. Green Age World serves not only Jamaicans but all our Caribbean people. The company is a social enterprise, meaning that while we operate for profit, we do so for the people. The brand belongs to Caribbean people and it is EXTREMELY important for them to know and enjoy that. 🙂 Check out the About section on our Facebook page to see what I’m talking about. We are a “Virtual Enterprise”, this keeps costs down and saves on elements that will make us as green as we want to be.
5. How do you involve Jamaica(n’s) in your projects?
Remember I said the brand is for the people, it’s an entity our Caribbean people are a part of, truly, for they are and are the ones who will make Green Age Caribbean a reality. The company/brand is not just your normal entity who wants to accumulate patronage; Green Age Caribbean needs a lot more than that to become a reality. I have great things in store for our people in the future, and we’re all going to love it when they happen.
GAC: It needs small steps by its people, acceptance, determination, and a burning love for ALL our little worlds that make up this region we live in and so love. How we involve Jamaicans? The company wants its GAC citizens (Caribbean people) to actively play a role in deciding where and to whom the company distributes its social funds and support. As a social enterprise, social responsibility is actually a part of our cost structure, why the company is in business. Jamaicans say “out of many, one people”, well I 100% agree, we are all one people in the Caribbean so we will make this a Green Caribbean and show the rest of the World how forward thinking we can be.
6. Where are you from, are you Jamaican?
I am from the Caribbean, that’s how I feel. I was born and raised in Barbados, but I am the dictionary definition of Caribbean.
7. What new company plans and visions are you working on?
Well our Caribbean and global launch is the biggest plan. There are basic things still to be done and after that will be our awesome website. In between all that there is much to be done to build awareness among Caribbean people. There’s going to be a cool Green Age Caribbean (GAC) interactive e-magazine that I expect shall be well-received. A youth program is critical to the success of the company mission and we shall be working with NGO’s as much as possible to realize and develop that. Our future holds a big touring company event and even an innovative housing solution, YES, really.
8. What is your personal favourite project you are working on and why?
Besides Green Age World? 🙂
9. Who or what, is your inspiration or role model?
I observe a lot and I also dream a lot. The latter’s the reason I’m working on this whole thing. I also have an unquenchable thirst for “the better”. Those 3 things combined inspire me and continue to do so. I have a vision for how thriving the people of the Caribbean can be and I just want to help to make that happen. Green Age World was conceptualized 6 years ago around 8pm on my mother’s living room floor and from then I knew it just HAD to be. How could it not? In no way did I have the skill-set then that I do now though, and I’m glad for the people I have supporting me and that I have the knowledge that I do to even attempt to execute my dream that is one for the people and our nations, not just myself. I can’t say that I have a role model, I never really thought about it honestly. I have a standard for myself and certain expectations I live by and I guess these were informed by watching and interacting with other people as I grew up.
Besides family, lots of people have “touched” me and influenced and contributed to the person I am today. Those people on the streets that were strangers to me (and there have been many throughout my life) and whom said stuff like, “I’m going to see you in the papers someday doing something great” or “You are going to do something big with your life”, I never forget them. That something big and that greatness is my current project, this is my belief. Today I remember and I think they are incredible because they didn’t know me and they just clearly saw things in me I didn’t embrace nor know I had in me then. So among other things are they, those strangers and my people who help drive me every day to continue working on my initiative and seeing it through and I don’t even know their names.
10. Where can we get information about your company projects, in Jamaica and overseas?
We’re on Facebook so find us and talk to us there also people can follow us on Twitter to show their support. When we get it up and running there shall be interactive group boards on Pinterest for the brand so if you’re not there yet, get an account and follow us for now because we’ll be following back and pinning together soon. There will be newsletters; I’ll be actively trying and forging deals with Caribbean brands, all so that the company can help provide people with special offers on their favourite products and services to make green things more accessible and affordable to the masses. That’s important. I’m pushing an ideal but people in any situation need to be able to take it and run with it. That’s the key. I hope those green brands out there are listening.
Subscribers also get inside information on the company’s developments and there are exciting things to come. So, people really need to subscribe with us to access these benefits in the future. Right now there’s an email tab on our Facebook page which people can use to subscribe quickly with us. There’s an email requirement but I also have an option for people to give us their mobile information (to support future SMS/MMS communications) to stay in touch with each other-company and people.
11. How do you love to spend your free time?
I’ll answer that according to my life now. I love reading. I read a perfectly fictional fantasy adventure book that takes me out of this world and into another for just a little bit. Sometimes I may just watch a movie. That’s the easiest escape I have nowadays. If I could carry the beach everywhere, well now, that would be it. I spend my entire time, whether free or not, GREEN.
12. Which Jamaican, dead or alive, do you feel made the biggest contribution to Jamaica and why?
Bob Marley. Basically, he put Jamaica on the global map, proving that a small island, one small good thing, can have a decade’s long, a lasting impact on the ENTIRE world.
14. If you could impart one piece of advice to inspire young people to start their own businesses or succeed in their chosen career, what would it be?
Be resilient. Be determined. Be Creative. Also, don’t ever let ANYONE make you believe that you can’t do something or won’t get something regardless of who they are to you, parents and family included. Seriously. If I listened and followed all the negative things that were said to me or the things I heard, I would not have made some of my dreams and goals come true so far and I certainly would not have become a Founder of a social enterprise right now trying to do what it’s doing. This advice refers to positive things, of course. 🙂 Take the warnings. Appreciate the fact that this path (entrepreneurship) means sacrifice and risk and go for it. Somebody somewhere has your back. I sure do. Jamaicans have impacted the World in many ways including education, sports and certainly music and culture, there is absolutely nothing that could stop you if you’re truly determined to a higher level of life.
15. If you could change jobs, what would you do?
I wouldn’t change jobs, or career paths I should say. I’m better off being an entrepreneur. That said, I never dream of giving up on Green Age World and all its activities. It’s hard and overwhelming but the vision is big so I’m OK with that. However, if I didn’t have this drive and passion, I probably would have become a lawyer, an environmental lawyer.
16. What do you believe will contribute most to your company’s ongoing success?
My company’s success will depend on a combination of things. One of the most critical things is that the brand needs to be embraced by Caribbean people in a true way. In this case the word ‘people’ refers to our free users and our prospective sponsors, advertisers, and donors.
17. What do you feel your company has to offer the international and home markets, over and above your competitors?
The brand is one that the Caribbean people can literally belong to and that’s a great, powerful thing. It’s meaningful. It’s a sense of ownership in changing the World into a better place; we can be leaders in this race. Perhaps many about to read this may say I’m looking through rose-coloured glasses here; I don’t acknowledge my competitors or potential ones as truly that. Green Age World is an era, an attitude, a behavior, a lifestyle. Green Age Caribbean or a green Caribbean is an ideal and region we all now need to create one home or one step at a time. I’m trying to execute a great, necessary thing here, building something that’s owned by not me as I see it, but by the Caribbean people. I therefore consider my competitors as partners and potential partners anyway, and I hope they see me as such. We cannot be competitively green; we have to be collectively green.
18. How do you believe as a nation we can help to build the Caribbean?
You kind of just said it. Caribbean people need to unite, truly unite. People within our countries need also to unite and embrace each other. We all have our differences but we still need to live together. Traveling as much as I have has shown me that our waters are our blessing; it gives us the diversity and nuances of culture and norms from island to island. That’s what’s so fun and priceless about the region. Our waters though, to me, are also our limitation in some ways. Ever thought of what the Caribbean would be like if it were a single land mass like our continental neighbours, especially our northern neighbours? See the advantage yet? There would be more stable or, at least, stronger economies perhaps? There would probably or most certainly be a more mobile people in every sense of the word, greater self-reliance, one economy or fewer ones anyways, instead of several all trying to make it on their own at various stages of economic development or prosperity…? Those are but few of the innumerable positive possibilities if it were so. But it’s not. We need to come together. We need to ensure our people the ability to be able to do so. Our people need to be able to “hop around” with ease, there is much to be gained by movement but I shall not get into that now. To say the least and reiterate, we all need to unite, genuinely, and that starts mentally.
19. What are your aspirations for the future of the wider Caribbean?
A Green Caribbean of course. Basically, that’s a healthy, thriving people within green economies of resilient nations of the Caribbean. We have a paradise that people around the world dream of and spend thousands just to see and experience. We need to protect that and inspire them to protect their own nations when they go back home. We need to make our cultures, environment and creativity work for us in a big way. Caribbean people are creative, it’s in us, not something that’s learned, yet our creative industries lack so much infrastructure and support it is with great misfortune. And youth suffer because of this. We are forcing right brain thinkers to be academic when they should be creatively entrepreneurial. I believe our creative genius is a gold mine, just like our beautiful waters and lush nations and I wish the industry was stronger and taken more seriously. We can do we and survive from it. Beyond that, I’m a U.W.I. graduate and I’ve always believed in the idea that universities are pioneers of their societies. Pioneers. I want to see a Caribbean that is a direct effect of the University of the West Indies that it owns. Simple.
20. How can people get to contribute or get involved with Green Age World?
There is much work to be done if people wish to join me in executing this beauty of mine and theirs. I welcome it so they can contact me if interested. Again, the brand is and shall be very much a social one so people can choose to play a supportive role. We have an aim to be interactive, so, Caribbean people can stay in touch with us via the media and email mentioned earlier or, offer a donation or sponsorship if they wish to help with start-up and other operational costs. The brand is theirs and ours. I welcome any contribution and requests for involvement.
Contact Details for Jamilia Parris at Green Age World
Green Age World
Our website is http://www.greenageworld.com
Want more from Sweet Jamaica? Join Us!
Like our Sweet Jamaica FaceBook Page to get the latest news, photo’s, music, events, competitions and offers
Join our Sweet Jamaica Twitter feed for up to date happenings, information and fun from Sweet Jamaica @sweetjamaicajul
Keep the Conversation Going…
What do you think about a ‘Green’ future for the Caribbean and wider world? How are you getting involved? Get in touch below we look forward to hearing from you…