If you are stressed about not being employed, maybe you need to take a few lessons from Jamaica’s industrious poor. 

Perhaps no one understands unemployment better than poor Jamaicans. With inadequate formal education, little resources and many responsibilities, these Jamaicans have been making a lot out of very little for a long time. What if they had some of the qualifications and/or experiences that you have?

Here are four lessons that you can learn from the Jamaican poor.


Jamaicans have always been pros at making their own money. From the fruit stand owner, to the jerk pan chef, to the “higglers” across the country, they all do what needs to be done to take care of their families.

If you have dreamed about being your own boss, there is no better time to start than now. In fact, unemployment may just be the push you need to jumpstart an idea that you’ve had for a long while but were afraid to take the leap of faith to begin – well, now may be the time to jump.

This does not necessarily mean you have to have huge capital to open up a large store or restaurant – there are many small business opportunities right where you are. Just look around you.

What skill or service do you have that people would be willing to pay for? Are you tech savvy?  Good at organizing or planning events?  Are you a good cook?

The Jamaica Business Development Corporation frequently has workshops, seminars and a highly supportive crew ready and willing to help you get started with your own business.

Check our directories for other organizations that may be able to help you out. Additionally, your Member of Parliament may be able to put you in touch with a variety of programs that the government has in place to spur business startups.


Know when to change gears. Unfortunately, not all Jamaican poor become successful. An important lesson that some poor musicians and other striving artistes (such as dancers) miss is when to leave the dream of stardom for a new one. In fact, many of them become just like an iron balloon: it goes nowhere – it will neither rise nor “buss” (burst), and neither will they.

Always give your dream a try; however, never get so tied up in the dream that you forget about reality.

If your passion is music, great! You can still use the skills that you have as a musician or dancer, just look for another avenue to use them in.  Maybe you can teach dance or music or even consider selling music-related instruments. You could write or produce, or even identify and manage upcoming talent.

This applies to any field that you are in. There are always opportunities to use the skill that you have if you are open to exploring different ways of applying your talent.


Still having a hard time figuring out what to do? Maybe you should look into going back to school. Even though school will not bring in an initial income, its long-term benefits are worth the effort. Whether it’s to gain a skill or academic qualification, your potential future earnings increases over the long term whenever you attain some accreditation.

Lower-income Jamaicans have been taking advantage of the low-cost programs at HEART for years. The programs offer trainings and certifications that act as great resources to springboard you into gainful employment.

For other educational options there are a host of colleges and training institutions to choose from. When deciding what courses to do, consider areas that you love and are good at, but also in high-demand so that you can easily find a job upon completion.


Many Jamaican mechanics started out as apprentices and grew to own their own mechanic shops. So did many skilled contractors, chefs and cosmetologists. No matter what, don’t waste away the days. You can always find someone doing a job you like that you can learn by working as their apprentice – this can provide you with invaluable hands-on experience.

HEART offers these opportunities in their programs as well. And even though working for free is in no way ideal, with some dedication and a quick head you will be able to translate the learned skills into a steady income.


Photo Courtesy of foodjourneyrestaurant.blogspot.com