The median wage in Jamaica is just over $600 a month. It doesn't sound much, and in reality, most people are earning a lot less. As with everywhere else, the country's ultra-rich are inflating the average with their millions.
But who exactly are the 1 percent? Which Jamaican's have bigger bank balances than some small countries? Find out now as we rank the 10 richest people in Jamaica.
10. Jimmy Cliff Net Worth - $10 Million
Kicking off our list of the 10 richest people in Jamaica is singer and actor Jimmy Cliff. At the age of 14, he scored a hit with his hit "Hurricane Hattie." In 1964, he signed with Island Records. From that point forward, the only way was up.
Over the course of his career, he's performed with artists such as Sting and The Rolling Stones, released dozens of hit singles (including "Wonderful World, Beautiful People," "Wild World," and "Reggae Night"), appeared in a number of films, and become the only living performer to be awarded the Order of Merit, the Jamaican government's highest honor.
9. Shaggy Net Worth - $14 Million
Since rising to fame with the 1995 album "Boombastic," Shaggy has released over a dozen studio albums, notched up 3 Billboard Hot 100 top 10 singles ("Boombastic" (1995), "It Wasn't Me" (2000), and "Angel" (2000)), won a Grammy for "44/876," a collaborative album with Sting, and achieved a Jamaican Order of Distinction. As of 2021, his net worth is estimated to be $14 million.
8. Joseph John Issa Net Worth - $16 Million
At the age of 30, Joseph John Issa launched his first business, a petrol station named the Cool Oasis. Using the station as his launchpad, he expanded rapidly - its parent company, Cool Group, is now the largest Jamaican-owned operator of petrol stations in Jamaica. After diversifying into automotive and household products, Cool Group now controls over 50 companies across a range of verticals. According to Webbspy, his net worth is $16 million.
7. Sean Paul Net Worth - $25 Million
Widely credited with introducing Dancehall to the world, Sean Paul is one of the most influential and iconic musicians to have emerged from Jamaica. The majority of his albums have been Grammy-nominated, and he's released several chart-topping singles. Now aged 48 years old, he's worth a mammoth $25 million.
6. Chris Blackwell Net Worth - $180 million
Described by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as "the single person most responsible for turning the world on to reggae music," Island Records founder Chris Blackwell has been responsible for forging the career of numerous high profile artists, including Bob Marley, the B-52's, Roxy Music, and U2, among many others.
Since resigning from the company in 1997, he's turned his hand to the tourism trade, and now operates a group of elite resorts in Jamaica, The Bahamas, Miami, and Florida. He's also launched his own brand of rum, "Blackwell Black Gold." According to the latest estimates, he's worth $180 million.
5. Paula Kerr-Jarrett Net Worth - $1 Billion
With a net worth of $1 billion, Paula Kerr-Jarrett ties with Blossom O’Meally-Nelson for the title of Jamaica's richest woman. An attorney, philanthropist, and former politician, Kerr-Jarrett is primarily known for spearheading the project to re-develop Montego Bay, which will bring a university, 1200 homes, and a 48-acre technology park to the area. Since 1991, she's served as the Company Director at Barnett Limited, a family-owned business focused on real estate.
4. Wayne Chen Net Worth - $1 Billion
Wayne Chen might not be the richest member of his family (his older brother Michael Lee-Chin takes that title) but he's still one of the richest people in Jamaica thanks to a net worth of $1 billion.
His wealth comes from his position as CEO of Super Plus Food Stores, the largest retailer in Jamaica. In addition, he serves as the Chairman of NCB Insurance Company Limited and West Indies Trust Company Limited, as well as a Director of NCB (Cayman) Limited, AIC (Barbados) Limited, and the Christiana Town Centre Limited.
3. Blossom O’Meally-Nelson Net Worth - $1 Billion
In 2000, Blossom O’Meally-Nelson was appointed the first female Postmaster General of Jamaica. According to diG Jamaica, she's widely credited with commercializing and modernizing the post via her role in establishing the Postal Corporation of Jamaica.
She's also served as pro-chancellor and chair of the Council for the University of Technology (UTECH). In addition to her achievements within the public sector, she's enjoyed huge success in the private sphere via her involvement in the logistics company, Aermar Group. With a net worth of $1 billion, she ranks alongside Paula Kerr-Jarrett as the richest woman in Jamaica.
2. Michael Lee-Chin Net Worth - $1.6 Billion
As per Forbes, Michael Lee-Chin made his fortune by investing in financial companies like National Commercial Bank Jamaica and AIC Limited. In 1987 he acquired AIC at a point when it had less than $1 million in assets under management.
By 2002, that figure had risen to more than $10 billion. He sold the firm in 2009 to the Canadian financial services group Manulifem but maintained a 65 percent stake in National Commercial Bank Jamaica.
Known for his philanthropy, he's made several significant donations to both Caribbean and Canadian non-profits over the years, including $30 million to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and $10 million to the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. His net worth is now $1.6 billion.
1. Joseph M. Matalon Net Worth - $3.6 Billion
With a net worth of $3.6 billion, Joseph M. Matalon ranks as Jamaica's richest person. The majority of his wealth comes from his position as Chairman of ICD Group Holdings, a Jamaican investment holding company, and the media firm RJR Gleaner Communications Group.
From 2009 to 2012, he served as President of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ). Between 2007 and 2016, he also served as Chairman of the Development Bank of Jamaica.
A business leader with over three decades of experience, he's now actively involved in encouraging the next generation of entrepreneurs via his role as founding chairman of Jamaica’s first venture capital network, the FirstAngels Jamaica.
You can also read:
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson