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From being unable to spell in high school to Managing Director


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A young housing developer is seeking to use skills gained from the Jamaica Combined Cadet Force and service clubs to impact youth by providing manual work on his firm’s construction sites.

Managing Director of Alfran Development Limited, Ricardo Foster, said during the development of the company’s first housing project, Genesis 28, on Waterloo Road in St Andrew, over 60 inner-city youth were employed.

He pointed out that based on the services they provided, he saw a need for the entity to invest in its growth.

“I will be incorporating some skills training and personal development – getting people the basic dignity, a birth certificate and a bank account – help develop these young people who are coming out of some of the most marginalised areas,”

Foster shared with JIS News, at the recent ribbon cutting for the housing complex.

He noted that as a high school ninth grader, he could not spell a four-letter word until he went into the Cadet movement and had a remake of his life.

Foster said this enabled him to leave high school with three subjects, and after getting an additional three, he pursued law at the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech). 

“I see myself in them. They have ambition, and they have aspirations. These are young people who want to be part of something, and you can’t allow gangsters to recruit them.

“If there is a positive institution that wants to recruit them, they will come. I am inspired to recruit them, to do something positive, and I want to develop them,” he added.

The project was financed by the Jamaica Mortgage Bank (JMB), and Foster pointed out that through the institution’s rigorous monitoring, they have learned best practices in construction.

“I don’t need to question the integrity of the houses because of the oversight provided by the JMB. I want to applaud the Bank for making me feel comfortable. It forced me to learn construction the right way,” the Managing Director said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said “from what you have built, it would seem that you have conducted yourself well, in the actual construction process.”

“We need more developers like you. It is heartening to see a young man come to the fore, run such a massive project, and did not sacrifice decency and integrity. We need more developers like yourself to come on board, to partner with the Government, to build the 70,000 units that we need,” Holness said.

For his part, JMB Managing Director, Courtney Wynter, said Genesis 28 was an “ideal project to add a different look to Kingston, and these [developers] were, in our eyes, ordinary people.” 

He added that for the past 50 years, the JMB has been empowering ordinary developers, and the project done by Alfran was a good model for public/private partnerships. 

“It was efficiently done, the developers are model developers, and we are proud of that,” Wynter said.

The Jamaica Mortgage Bank was established in 1971 and is on a mission to mobilise resources for on-lending to private and public sector developers and financial institutions, in support of national settlement goals.

It welcomes applications for construction financing to facilitate the development of affordable housing. 

Project proposals must meet the JMB’s housing guidelines, and to be eligible for consideration for financing, the developer must be knowledgeable about the housing sector and be able to fund 20 per cent of the total development cost.

The Bank’s main pillar of operations is the provision of interim financing to developers of housing solutions. 

It has acquired substantial technical expertise in the field during its 50-year existence and is recognised in the industry for successfully financing a wide range of housing projects islandwide.

In recent years, the institution launched its Technical Support Services, offering access to its technical expertise as a means of supporting other providers of bridge or interim financing to the housing sector, to improve the success rate of financing activities in the industry.

It is expected that the new service will not only serve to reduce construction risks experienced by other players in the housing finance market but also produce improved returns on their investments in the sector while advancing joint efforts to increase Jamaica’s housing stock and bring home ownership within the reach of more people.

—   JIS

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