10th Joan Duncan Memorial Lecture Spotlights Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Jamaica’s Entertainment Industry


Ibrahim 'IB' Konteh (centre), CEO, IB Enterprises and Director of IBE Limited, delivers the 10th annual Joan Duncan Memorial Lecture on the topic, Party Done? Entrepreneurial Opportunities in the Entertainment Industry,' shares lens time with (from left) Prince Graham-Haynes, acting head, Joan Duncan School of Entrepreneurship, Ethics and Leadership (JDSEEL), UTech, Jamaica, George Davis, journalist and moderator of the lecture, Prof. Colin Gyles, acting president, UTech, Jamaica and Kim Mair, CEO, JMMB Joan Duncan Foundation, following the live presentation at the Television Jamaica studios May 21, 2023. The lecture was organized by University of Technology, Jamaica in partnership with the JMMB Joan Duncan Foundation.

An expert analysis of current opportunities, existing challenges, and recommendations to boost entrepreneurial growth in Jamaica’s entertainment sector, took centerstage at the 10th Joan Duncan Memorial Lecture hosted by University of Technology, Jamaica in partnership with the Joan Duncan Foundation, which was broadcast live on TVJ on Sunday, May 21, 2023.

Ibrahim 'IB' Konteh, CEO, IB Enterprises and Director of IBE delivers the 10th Joan Duncan Memorial Lecture during the live broadcast on TVJ on May 21, 2023.

This year’s lecture titled ‘Party Done? Entrepreneurial Opportunities in the Entertainment Industry,' was delivered by Ibrahim 'IB' Konteh, CEO, IB Enterprises and Director of IBE Limited. Known for his work as a creative powerhouse and conceptualizer behind popular entertainment events such as Strictly 2K - Throwback Music Festival and Afro Soca Jam, IB shared his personal journey as an entrepreneur, marketer and author which has taken him to his current position as owner of five event brands servicing five international markets in Jamaica, Atlanta, New York, Florida, Washington DC and Canada.

Referencing his fascinating background of being born in Moscow, Russia, his early years in Freetown, Sierra Leone until age eight, before escaping the civil war in a refugee move to neighbouring Guinea, Conakri, and relocating six months later with his parents to Portmore, Jamaica where he has since called home, the acclaimed entrepreneur demonstrated that the circumstances of one’s beginning does not determine your future and potential success.

Konteh who attended Wolmer’s Boys High School shared that his entrepreneurial journey had its genesis during his time as student council president where he led the planning and execution of successful large-scale fundraising concerts and later at The University of the West Indies, Mona where in his leadership role on the guild of students, he continued to revolutionize the staging of events such as “Integration Thursdays” and UWI Carnival.

Being bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, at an early age, Konteh shared, “I moved on to start my own brands such as Barcode, 11:59, Strictly Addi, and in more recent years Strictly 2K, where we recently joined Vacay Weekend, Afro Soca Jam, Baddish and now this year, I started my own 360 events company, where we offer bar service consignment and event clean up.”

Challenges in the Jamaican Entertainment Industry

While acknowledging, “I’ve done well for myself,” the seasoned entertainment entrepreneur cited current challenges in the industry, chief of which he described as “the lack of organization and informality of the sector.”  He lamented that many players, such as suppliers of goods and services, refuse to register their businesses and are reluctant to sign or are unaccustomed to using formal contracts, which carry inherent risks. 

IB pointed also to the challenges of securing sponsorships, even for well-established brands, in addition to the difficult process of accessing funding from financial institutions.  He also related the experience of the hurdles due to the additional bureaucracy involving the variation in rules and regulations in each municipality and the various payment agencies a party promoter is required to visit, such as Jamaica Music Society (JAMMS) and Jamaica Association of Composers, Authors and Publisher (JACAP). “Take for example, when you’re having an event, if you’re applying for a permit, the different municipality, whether Kingston or Portmore, St. Ann and so forth, they have different requirements,” he stated.

Though acknowledging that the government through the Ministry of Culture, Gender and  Entertainment has been making efforts to support the entertainment industry,  Konteh asserted that “I don’t think enough has been done… when we consider the fact that Jamaica is the only country in the world that has created seven genres of music,” and is arguable “the cultural and music entertainment mecca of the world.”  Pointing to the recent support provided by the government in offering grants to registered entertainment businesses that suffered immeasurable losses during the heights of the COVID-19 pandemic when movement was restricted, IB urged entrepreneurs to register their businesses and to ensure that they are part of the government’s entertainment registry, so as not to miss out on such future opportunities.

Digital and Creating Value-Add Solutions Presents a Major Opportunity in Entertainment

Jamaica’s entertainment industry is a multi-billion-dollar sector which reportedly contributes nearly 5% of GDP and generates between $15 -20 M USD in revenue per year. Against this background, Konteh turned his attention to prospects in the entertainment value chain.  He asserted that in the post-COVID-19 era, opportunities abound for entrepreneurs particularly in the digital space, pointing out that advertising spend has shifted primarily to digital media. He noted that this has created demand for innovative and creative talent such as social media managers, content creators, copywriters, video editors and graphic artists as well as for production managers, sound equipment engineers and stage designers. The entrepreneur also spoke to opportunities for revenue generation through merchandising at events, offering branded items such as caps, shirts and other paraphernalia that make an emotional connection with consumers.

Closing out his presentation, Konteh shared with the live and in-studio audience insights into creating and sustaining his own business model which he underscored is built on creating value for the target audience.  “I tend to generally look at what’s the problem…  And also a lot of events are similar to each other, so the solution to that would be to create brands of events that cater to their evolving needs, creating niche events that are safe, that are inclusive, that are consistent with what you deliver each time,” he shared. Adding that persistence, determination and self-belief in the face of repeated failures, are key values for finding success as an entrepreneur.

The one-hour broadcast also featured a short documentary that underscored the contributions of late pioneer money market in Jamaica, Joan Duncan, who is also the co-founder of JMMB Group. The lecture honors the vision, mission and passion of the late corporate leader, whose mission was to improve the lives of others through financial inclusion and access. 

In a brief pre-recorded welcome, Acting President, University of Technology, Jamaica Professor Colin Gyles, CD noted that “Since 2014, this annual lecture has been impactful in honouring the memory of Joan Duncan's vision and passion for Jamaica's growth and development. The lecture has highlighted critical areas of national life and has focused on one or more aspects of the core disciplines of the Joan Duncan School of Entrepreneurship, Ethics and Leadership (JDSEEL).”

The lecture was moderated by Mr. George Davis, Executive Director, Nationwide News Network.


Michelle Beckford 
Corporate Communications Manager
University of Technology, Jamaica
Telephone: 876 970-5299 
Email: mbeckford@utech.edu.jm