Ecofarms™ – Een sociale onderneming die het leven van doven en slechthorenden in Jamaica verbetert

How did you get started in business?
When Grace Foster Reid found herself unemployed after the closure of the two bauxite factories in the central Jamaican town of Mandeville she looked to her father’s farm for inspiration.

As an engineer and graduate from MIT, innovation comes as second nature, and so when she saw the bee hives on her father’s farm and learned about their versatility, she knew there was something she could do.

Hives provide five salable products – honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and wax. Grace decided bees would provide employment for herself, and at least 100 community members made redundant by the factory closures, including those at risk.

What helped to make the Ecofarmsâ„¢ dream a reality?
Like most entrepreneurs, Grace experienced numerous obstacles. Staffing issues, lack of capital and funding, and low profit margins all threatened to derail her social enterprise.

But innovation is in the engineer’s blood, and she produced a product with a difference. Grace unveiled Buzz™ HoneyStix™ in 2011, straw-shaped sachets, each with a teaspoon of honey. They include island infusions of cinnamon, ginger, lemongrass, mango, tamarind and watermelon. The sachets now retail in over 50 stores across Jamaica, including the global coffee giant Starbucks, which placed an initial order of 3,000 when they opened doors in Jamaica in the fall of 2018.

Ecofarms’ product offerings expanded in 2013 with the inclusion of “Buzzâ„¢ Honey Wine”, a product birthed after Foster accidentally left a bottled honey/passionfruit infusion in a cupboard. Six months later, it had turned to the oldest alcoholic beverage known to man – mead honey wine. Grace employed science to commence production of an award-winning product with infusions of Malay (Otaheite) apple, sorrel and carambola.

What’s next for Ecofarms™?
Two new products are on the cards Ecofarmsâ„¢, one in the drinks category, the other in confectionary. They are both slated for release in winter 2019.

In keeping with Grace’s goal to assist vulnerable members of her community, Ecofarms™ will expand operations to the Jamaica Deaf Village, where they will mostly employ the hearing impaired. Two deaf youths are currently training as beekeepers.

“We plan on moving to the Jamaica Deaf Village next, because the hearing impaired are…underemployed, and often paid below minimum wage,” Foster-Reid said.

The social enterprise company is also scaling up, having recently purchased production lines for their HoneyStixâ„¢, Honey Wine and honey packaging. Ecofarmsâ„¢ is also looking into select export markets in the Caribbean, North America and Europe, and is pursuing food safety certification.

Grace Foster Reid

A few takeaways for budding & aspiring entrepreneurs
“Reassess those things you currently consider obstacles or setbacks,” Grace advises, “because in them, you just may find the fuel you need to keep going.”

Ecofarms’ greatest periods of growth emerged from their most emotionally and financially trying times. That’s because, Grace said, these periods forced her to innovate, increase productivity, improve efficiency and research the training and funding opportunities available.
She also warns against being overly optimistic.
“Our natural optimism as entrepreneurs can lead us to over project, failing to account for possible mishaps. So, halve your projected revenue and double your expenses, and then ask yourself if the business is still viable.”

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT Ecofarmsâ„¢: Facebook and Instagram – @ecofarms, Twitter – @ecofarmsja, and by visiting their website:

Van farmaceutische producten tot cosmetica, hoe Julia Jimenez haar ogen heeft gericht op wereldwijde erkenning voor Kapril Industrial

A chemist by profession, Julia Jimenez started her career in pharmaceuticals, but she had a deep interest in the beauty industry. So, with the help of a friend, Altagracia Figuereo, they founded Kapril Industrial in 2002, a company manufacturing hair care products.

Julia Jimenez

“At that time there was a need in our country to provide quality products at affordable prices. Most of the products for professional use were imported, and expensive,” Jimenez said. “So we created a product of competitive quality, and at a better price than the imported ones.”

Under the Kapril brand, the duo created a line of professional hair care products that are inspired by nature, and backed by science to provide optimal hair care.

The line quickly won favour with customers, whose support provided the impetus for growth. Kapril Industrial has since expanded from five products under the Kapril brand to over 90 products under four separate brands – Kapril, Lisanel, Herbafreh and Afro-kerly.

Kapril continues to cater primarily to salons and hair care professionals. Lisanel products are treatment focused and have a base of argan, keratin and coconut. The Herbafresh line is formulated with herbs and extracts believed to contribute to hair growth. And the newest addition is Afro-kerly, a line formulated for those with naturally textured, afro hair.

The products are hugely popular in the Dominica Republic, and Kapril Industrial is continuing to expand its product lines to meet demand.

“In the medium and long term, we want to capture the hotel market, increase our sales in the retail sales establishments in the Dominican Republic, and expand our market internationally,” Jimenez said.

Kapril, which currently exports to Cuba, Curacao, Haiti and Puerto Rico, plans to increase its presence in the Caribbean, and is working to enter markets in Europe and North America.

“We will achieve this with support from Caribbean Export,” Jimenez said.

Caribbean Export, the only regional trade and investment promotion agency in the African, Caribbean and Pacific group in 2018 founded the Women Empowered Through Export (WE-Xport) programme, designed to support women in business to start exporting or to increase the exports of their products and services.

In addition to WE-Xport, Jimenez credits her husband, business partner Figuereo, and her own stick-to-itiveness with Kapril’s success.

“You must be enthusiastic about, and maintain a level of dynamism if you’re going to succeed as an entrepreneur, Jimenez said. “If you are in pursuit of your dreams, you can’t afford to deterred by obstacles, and you must be determined to never let surrender be an option.”

Visit the WE-Xport booth at BMEX in Barbados from June 7-10, 2019 to view the Kapril brands.

Find out more about Kapril Industrial by visiting their website: and on Facebook @kaprilindustrialrd and Instagram @kaprilindustrial.

Dominica Tours – Hoe een ondernemer de storm doorstond en groter en beter terugbouwt dan voorheen

When Hurricane Maria, a deadly Category Five hurricane, devastated Dominica in 2017, the island coined a phrase Dominicans were determined to achieve – “Build Back Better”, and it’s at the heart of the “Dominica Tours” story.

In 1970, Yvonne Armour Hill’s parents, recognized as pioneers in Dominica’s tourism industry, founded Anchorage Limited, a tourism business which included a hotel, a land-based tour company, and a whale watching and dive centre.

Yvonne Armour Hill

Dominica Tours, the tour operation division of Anchorage Ltd which Armour Hill served as Managing Director/CEO, coordinated the experiences of their guests among the sister properties. But the hurricane destroyed three properties under the Dominica Tours umbrella, making the tour company virtually obsolete.

Armour Hill, however, is not a quitter, and motivated by a desire to contribute to the island’s rebuilding efforts, and to help get the tourism industry back on its feet, decided to rebrand and redevelop Dominica Tours.

“Instead of continuing to focus mainly on our sister properties, we are now working on offering a level of quality support to hoteliers and other stakeholders in the tourism industry to enhance the integrity of their products and services,” she said. “And our focus is on Authenticating the Nature Island experience.”

Even after a natural disaster as destructive as Hurricane Maria was, Yvonne’s plan works, because visitors to Dominica aren’t there merely for the hotels.

“We’re the Nature Isle of the Caribbean,” Yvonne said. “Our very discerning visitors come here to hike, dive, enjoy our natural spas, go whale watching in the Caribbean’s whale watching capital, experience the world’s only indigenous Kalinago Territory, home to our region’s indigenous people. We attract the fit and energetic, people who want adventure and off the beaten track experiences in one of the Caribbean’s most authentic destinations and best kept secrets,” she said. “As well as those in search of peace and tranquility in beautiful ‘eco’ spaces… So, we still have a lot to offer.”

As a tourism and hospitality consultant, Yvonne is well placed to provide management support and training to hoteliers and tourism stakeholders on the island. She’s been in the industry for over 35 years, and has worked in the tourism/hospitality and education sectors locally, regionally and internationally, including as a Consultant with the Caribbean Tourism Organization, and presently as the Tourism HRD Specialist with the consulting firm that won the bid to review and update Dominica’s National Tourism Policy, Tourism Master Plan and its DDA Corporate Strategy.

She combined her industry knowledge and expertise with support from the Caribbean Export Development Agency. Through their new Women Empowered Through Export (WE-Xport) programme, which is designed to support Caribbean women in business to start exporting, or increase the exports of their products and services, Yvonne, one experience at a time, is working to ensure Dominica is the number one choice for nature lovers.  With a firm reach in the French Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe and in France, she is focused on significantly increasing the export of her services to Europe, North America and the African Continent.  And one untapped market she’s also focused on bringing in is the diaspora – Dominicans living abroad.

“This isn’t country specific,” she said, “But it’s definitely a market we should be more actively pursuing.  We want them to revisit the natural beauty of their homeland.”

Armour Hill is undoubtedly brimming over with ideas to help rebuild and expand Dominica’s tourism industry, but its long-term success will be dependent on creating a model that is sustainable. To achieve this, she has established Ayahora Foundation, a registered non-profit, designed to support and facilitate the development of Inspirational Leadership Institutes, which are focused on pre-primary, Montessori education and adult skills training. The foundation promotes sustainable development principles and practices through the delivery and support of quality, environmentally sensitive, culturally relevant educational programmes and initiatives.

“Ayahora’s work will support the development of the tourism industry by helping to mold responsible, thoughtful, good-spirited, productive global citizens,” Armour Hill shared. So the foundation really is looking to address the needs of the industry in terms of building capacity, and in trying to inculcate from a very early age, sustainable development principles and practices, so that in 15, 20 years, we can envisage a work force that is more eco and culturally-sensitive and better equipped to contribute in real ways to the responsible development of our beautiful Nature Isle… first and foremost for us Dominicans, as well as for our visitors.”

Yvonne’s plans for Dominica Tours, and Ayahora exemplify Dominica’s determination to build back better, and are a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit.

“When you suffer such devastation and loss, you have to ask yourself what’s the lesson to be learned; how can I turn this to my advantage,” Armour Hill said. “You have a choice. You can either wallow and not move on, or you can make a choice for survival.”

Visit the WE-Xport booth at BMEX in Barbados from June 7-10, 2019 to learn more about Dominica Tours.

Find out more about Dominica Tours and Yvonne’s work by visiting:

Sugar Town Organics, het moeder-dochterbedrijf dat wetenschap en natuur combineert om gezond voedsel en gezonde huidverzorging te produceren

Anastasha Elliot , CEO

Anastasha Elliot traces her foray into entrepreneurship back to the age of eight, when she baked, then later crocheted, designed clothing and tie-dyed t-shirts and more, which she sold to earn money for school and to help out at home.  Now, the 36-year-old Kittitian is the CEO of Sugar Town Organics, a health and wellness company she founded with her mother after a cancer scare.

“My mom was diagnosed with cervical cancer and that forced us to take a look at our environment, our food source, what and how we ate, how we were living both the emotional and mental aspects and the products we used on our skin and hair,” Anastasha shared.  “She refused chemo and drugs, opting instead for a holistic lifestyle.  She made some radical changes to our lives, and four months later, she was cancer-free.”

They didn’t know it at the time, but that experience set them on a path toward starting not one, but two successful brands, both under the Sugar Town Organics umbrella.  Yaphene, a Hebrew word which means to shine beautifully, is a natural cosmetics line utilising actives found in, and indigenous to the Caribbean.  Flauriel, a “mashup” of Anastasha’s grandparents’ and great grandparents’ names, produces Caribbean-flavoured gourmet sauces, liqueurs, wines, Caribbean treats, blended herbal tea and jams.

“Both brands focus heavily on health, and on food, backed by the science,” Anastasha said.  “I looked at how, in the Caribbean, we use food to maintain our health, beauty and families and also to heal from disease. Our brands are therefore very food centric, and very Caribbean, of course with cultural influences that both affected the Caribbean and play a role in the geographical origin of my family. My grand dad and his parents were not born in the Caribbean you see.  It’s a social form of cultural regeneration, this educational aspect that we have also taken on” she said.

The Yaphene and Flauriel brands pay tribute to the Region, not only through the materials used, but also by how they are sourced.  Anastasha and her mum work with 11 farmers in St. Kitts and also source raw materials including fresh and dried foods from Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad.

Currently available at eight locations and counting across St. Kitts and Nevis, the mother-daughter team are focused on increasing Sugar Town’s retail presence on the island and exporting throughthe Caribbean, and on empowering Kittitians to live healthier lives and create their own holistic recipes.

“In another five years we would love to have our own outlet in town with a cosmetic lab where persons can come in and participate in classes, because we would like to be able to teach others to do basic things for themselves while getting a little creative, and create more of an empowerment aspect to the brand,” Anastasha said.

She also shared that they are currently focused on embarking on more meaningful export.

“We did small-scale exporting for a while, and we have customers around the world who would order, and we would ship out to them, but since participating in WE-Xport, we have actually been able to take the brand across the Atlantic to countries in Europe, Anastasha said.  And those exploits have gotten us quite a bit of exposure.”

The Women Empowered through Export (WE-Xport) program was designed by the Caribbean Export Development Agency to support Caribbean women in business to start exporting, or increase the exports of their products and services.

With support from the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis and the WE-Xport programme, Anastasha will be promoting her lines at BMEX in June in Barbados and the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) in Trinidad from August 16- 25, 2019. And later this year she’ll be participating in the 4th CARIFORUM-EU Business Forum and Authentic Caribbean Expo in Frankfurt, Germany pegged for September 26-28, 2019.

The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has further thrown its support behind the local brand, enabling it to be featured at its first major trade shows in Paris and Dubai next summer.   

To other young women who dream of embarking on their own business venture, Anastasha shared some vital advice.

“Don’t be afraid to try. Don’t be afraid to not get it right,” she said.  “Surround yourself with likeminded people, people who will support what you are trying to achieve, who will push you, challenge you and who are willing to help. And always be willing to ask for help, because the only real way to fail is not to try.”

Visit the WE-Xport booth at BMEX in Barbados in June 2019 to see the Sugar Town Organics range of products.

Find out more about Sugar Town Organics and their Yaphene and Flauriel brands on Instagram: @yapehne and @flauriel_foods

Facebook: @yaphene and @flauriel

And by visiting their website:

On a Quest to Create the World’s Favourite Pepper Sauce and Empower the Community – the Hot Mama’s Belize Story


When Wilana Oldham, a third generation Belizean living in Texas, met Howard in the nineties, he’d already fallen in love with her homeland seven years before, and after tying the knot, he convinced her to leave the Lone Star State for Belize.

He was an American investor.  Her family possessed a generations old secret recipe.  And together, they launched Hot Mama’s Belize , an agro processing company specializing in the production of high quality, premium habanero pepper products made with fresh vegetables, and without the use of artificial additives and chemicals.

The family recipe that inspired the business was a habanero pepper jelly, but while preparing to launch it, Wilana learned about a market trend in the food industry, and pivoted to capitalize on it.

The trend was for spicy foods, and while we moved to Belize with the intention of making the jelly, back in the US, everyone was asking us about the variety of peppers we were using, Wilana said.  So we did a little research and I ended up talking to a food broker in Miami who needed fresh peppers.  We started shipments into the US and eventually into Canada.

How Life’s Challenges Led Back to the Original Dream

Within a couple of years, the Oldhams were shipping a quarter million pounds of fresh  red habanero peppers out of Belize.

Unfortunately, two separate cancer scares forced Wilana’s return to the US for treatment, but after receiving the all-clear, she returned to Belize, this time determined to revive the original plan.  It was mango season, and the perfect time to get started with perfecting Manganero, the name they coined years before, when they first birthed the vision of producing the spicy-sweet mango and habanero pepper sauce.

It’s a particular variety of mangoes that we use, and the sauce is so delicious, Wilana shared.  It’s one of those unique sauces that is perfect from breakfast to dessert and everything in between.  You can put it on anything, she said. 

And she really does mean anything.  While the multi award-winning sauce really excels with seafood, Wilana shared that customers enjoy it on eggs, potatoes, rice, salads, even cheese cake.  And Wilana herself makes ice cream with it.  You just need to put it on whatever you are eating and it just makes it that much more delicious, she said.

The Product Failure that Birthed a Huge Success

Hot Mama’s Belize Sweet Pepper Sauce

Manganero’s success inspired Wilana to test another idea she had, but panic set in, when the double batch she created didn’t do what it was supposed to.

But her husband was the voice of reason, and his suggestion led to Hot Mama’s Belize number one selling product.

He stood there listening to me crying the blues for a while, and afterwards said are you finished?  I said yeah.  And he said what are you going to do.  I said I don’t know.  And he said well here’s what you need to do.  You need to put it into a bottle, call it sweet pepper sauce and I  think you are going to do very well.

Uplifting the Community is Foundational to this Social Enterprise

Hot and gourmet sauces, gift sets, jellies and specialty items, Hot Mama’s Belize growing product line is extensive, and as Wilana shares, the real success story here is not in how many award-winning products they have produced, or even how much they are earning in profits.  For Wilana and Howard, true success, happiness and motivation come from the people they are able to help.

People often say to me, Wilana, how come you don’t have your own pepper fields?  And I always respond the same way, because I believe in spreading the wealth, she said.  If I can get one farmer in a village to grow and produce for me, it not only affects him, but his family and his neighbours who become involved, because he need to hire people to assist with the harvesting. And so, that starts the rippling effects.

Future Plans for Hot Mama’s Belize

Hot Mama’s Belize products

With over a decade of experience in manufacturing and producing finished foods, and even longer selling fresh, Wilana’s attention is now focused on expansion through export, including greater penetration into the US and entering European markets.

They are doing this with support from Women Empowered Through Export (WE-Xport) , a programme designed by the Caribbean Export Development Agency to support Caribbean women in business to start exporting or increase exports of their products and services.

Having a lab on site to do our own testing, aids in improving the quality which is further assisted by implementing [Hazard Analysis Critical Control Procedures] HACCP throughout the facility.  The application has been made and approval received for [Export Processing Zone] EPZ status, which allows for the import of supplies at a reduced rate. This is necessary to be more competitive for the export markets Wilana said.  It’s all falling into place now, and that’s due in part to the support we’ve received through WE-Xport.

View the Hot Mama’s Belize range at the We-Xport booth at Bmex in June 2019.

Find out more about Hot Mama’s and follow their journey toward realising their vision of becoming the world’s favourite pepper sauce, by following them on Instagram @hot_mamas_belize, Facebook @hotmamasbelize and visit their website at:

Designs by Nadia, a jewelry business that grew into a café, AirBnB and an art emporium

Necessity, it’s said to be the mother of invention, and when financial constraints necessitated that Nadia Jabour make, rather than purchase jewelry and accessories for her daughters, little did she know her inventions would lead to a fledgling business and living her dream.

Nadia Jabour, Owner/Designer

Originally from Guyana, Jabour, after living in Canada for 25 years, returned to Guyana in 1994 and then settled in Saint Lucia in 2009, where she turned her jewelry-making hobby into a home business.

I had a day job and worked on jewelry at night and on the weekends, she said. But business started to pick up faster than I imagined, and I knew I either had to quit my day job, or scale back on jewelry making.

Jabour chose jewelry, giving herself one year to turn her part-time home business into a full-time success.

The strides made during that year were remarkable, and while Nadia’s laser focus, stellar work ethic and determination were at the root of the tremendous gains made, she states emphatically that her motivation was fueled by a network of people who saw her potential and threw their support behind her.

It wasn’t just friends who came by to buy my jewelry. They also supported me by telling other people about my pieces and bringing them to my home, Jabour shared. And these were new friends that I had acquired, because I didn’t know anyone in Saint Lucia when I moved here.

This belief that Jabour was onto something special extended even to her landlord, who saw Nadia’s passion and chipped in to help her along the path to success.

I shared my plans with him and he was phenomenal, she said. He said to me you don’t worry, I think this will work. So he gave me rent free for one year. I paid him back in the years that followed, but he allowed me that time to build my business.

Eager to ensure other local artisans could share in her success, Nadia started the Caribbean Network Development group, giving them greater bargaining power with hoteliers, government and other tourism stakeholders, which in turn gave their products greater visibility.

A small store in the Rodney Bay area followed, but in three short months, they outgrew the space.

And that’s how Island Mix came to be, Jabour said of the waterfront property she acquired. My jewelry is in there, and we have over 80 artisans now.

The property also hosts a cafe, an Air BnB, a restaurant and pottery, art and jewelry classes.

A sign outside, with the simple question, have you seen the view from our cafe beckons visitors inside, but once there, excellent service; quality, locally made products and the ambiance keep them coming back.

Island Mix Art Emporium is rated on Trip Advisor as the number one thing to do in Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia.

So, what’s next for Designs by Nadia and the Island Mix Art Emporium? Jabour is currently focused on expanding the AirBnB and is pursuing more meaningful export opportunities for her jewelry line.

Once I post something on my [social media] page, it’s usually sold right away within the Caribbean or the US and Canada. But what I am now working on is finding a wholesaler to buy my product in the UK, and on building a Shopify website to facilitate international orders.

Jabour is working toward achieving these goals with support from Women Empowered Through Export, a programme designed by the Caribbean Export Development Agency, to support Caribbean women to start exporting, or increase the export of their products and services.

Nadia found the mentorship and training offered through the programme to be invaluable and advises that it’s a great resource for Regional entrepreneurs seeking expansion beyond Caribbean shores.

She also shared this nugget for those who have a dream they long to make a reality.

Do your research, she said. Know your product and its market value. Once you do, the most important thing is to believe in it, she said. You MUST believe in what you are doing.

Meet Designs by Nadia at the We-Xport booth at Bmex in June 2019.

Find out more about Nadia Jabour and her entrepreneurial ventures on Facebook and Instagram.

A simple Trinidadian family recipe turns into a successful business primed for entering the global market

Habanero Pepper Sauce Company Limited is a small family owned business operating out of Claxton Bay, Trinidad under the leadership of Sharon Chautilal.

Sharon Chautilal, Director

Sharon worked in an equipment company for eighteen (18) years as the Administrative Manager before leaving the corporate world to pursue her passion as well as life balance through flexible hours that can allow for more quality time with family and other personal interests.

Her family always had a little rum shop in Claxton Bay Village that sold appetizers with a home-made pepper sauce that her mother made, which became a favourite condiment. the favorite condiment always being the home-made pepper sauce that her mother made. During this time, Sharon has fond memories of helping her mother in making the pepper sauce. “My mom would go to the market and individually handpick select the best peppers. She would then make a small batch of pepper sauce with freshly prepared ingredients resulting in a flavor that was always on point. It was also something that she loved doing and I truly believe that she channeled her positive energy and love into the product as with everything else that she put her energies in.

The growing demand from customers, their friends and their family whom they had shared the pepper sauce with could not be ignored. With her mother’s blessing and a promise to always be true to the recipe and the quality, Sharon set out on her journey of making Habanero Trinidad Pepper Sauce, the first traditionally made pepper sauce to enter the market.

Sharon took some time away from Trinidad to develop her business plan, drawing inspiration from great companies such as John Deere, Honda, Yanmar and others such as Heinz, Tabasco, Coca Cola, Cadbury, Levi, etc. that she always admired. “I read business books from people I admired, Richard Branson, Sam Waltons of Walmart and Elon Musk. I saw no reason why a bottle of pepper sauce could not be marketed the same way, for example, as the best bottle of perfume in the world. As long as you remained true to quality, the sky is the limit.

With the help of an advertising firm, Silverpin Design Concepts, who understood her vision of wanting to add flavour to life in every way possible, they set out together to design a simple but effective label that would showcase the main star of the show, the pepper sauce. The consumer had to be drawn to the product itself and come up with their own relationship with the pepper sauce. She did not want a distraction such as a mascot, cartoon or anything too artistic to take the attention away from the sauce itself. In Sharon’s words “we are going to revolutionize the pepper sauce industry and build a strong brand.

Habanero Gift Box

At the time, there was no premium pepper sauce in the local market. “We were the first to introduce gift editions. It was the perfectly packaged gift to give to employees, visitors, friends and families for Christmas. Since then, we have tried to have something innovative each year as customers are excited to see what we come up with.

This journey also led her to develop a strong supply chain by working with Farmers in developing good agricultural practices to consistently harvest first grade peppers for the best quality pepper sauces.

Thus, remaining true to her promise. The peppers are still hand selected and sorted, sun- ripened and only fresh ingredients are used. “We absolutely do not use any coloring, artificial preservatives such as sodium benzoate, artificial flavours or thickeners. We make small batches and maintain a good positive energy while we work, always conscious of the end user. It’s all garden fresh and they have remained true also to the company’s mission statement of Adding Flavour to Life!

After six years in business, and the many challenges including a downturn in the economy and financial constraints, Sharon has remained focused on her dream of making the best tasting pepper sauces possible and marketing them internationally. She has taken some baby steps in achieving this already as the products are available on the company’s e-commerce website and orders have been shipped all over the world, including the USA, South America, Europe, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Her latest achievement has been a collaboration between Habanero Trinidad and the iconic Calypso Rose to launch a Calypso Rose Fire Fire Scorpion Pepper Sauce which was successfully launched for Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival 2019. Calypso Rose would also be performing at Coachella 2019, one of the biggest Music Festival in the USA where she would be giving away some of the products so who knows where this dream may take her.

Calypso Rose ‘Fire Fire’ Scorpion Pepper Sauce

She has also been collaborating with a New York Chef Jonathan Scinto, who has appeared on the Food Network series Chopped. Habanero Trinidad is one of the sponsors of Chef Jonathan who is participating in the World Food Championship, the largest food festival in the USA sponsored by Walmart in Dallas this year.

What’s next for Habanero Trinidad
With the assistance of Women Empowered Through Export (WE-Xport) programme, Sharon hopes to fully leverage their expertise and assistance to strengthen her marketing and export strategy in establishing a global presence.

WE-Xport is designed to support Caribbean women in business to start exporting or increase the exports of their products and services.
Sharon’s attitude in life, is you either win or learn. To the other aspiring female entrepreneurs who are letting fear hold them back from pursuing their dreams, she said boldly, Do it scared! Fear is there to make you cautious, not stop you.

Visit the We-Xport booth at Bmex in June 2019 to learn more about Habanero Trinidad.

Find out more about Habanero Trinidad by visiting their website, and follow them on Facebook and Instagram at habanerotrinidad

De mode-start-up klaar om Caribische stijl naar de wereld te brengen

Vincentian-born, Trinidadian-raised and a citizen of the Caribbean, Kimya Glasgow, the CEO and head designer of her self-named clothing and lifestyle brand, aims to bring a modern version of classic Caribbean style to the world.

Encouraged by her mother’s side of the family to express herself creatively, Kimya convinced her dad that instead of pursuing law as he did, she was destined for a future in fashion.

She studied in Barbados, worked in the British Virgin Islands, qualified for a micro business loan, and with it began the process of bringing her dream to life.

“That’s how I stepped into business, and looking back, I should have been a lot more scared than I was,” she said.  “But when you are young, tenacious and driven, you believe you can move mountains.”

We’re all gifted, and capable of making a difference

Undaunted by numerous mistakes made along the way, Glasgow said a goal-oriented attitude enabled her to learn and grow from them.  She credits her primary school teachers with fostering this mindset.

“They encouraged positive thinking from the get go, instilling in us that we have a special place in this world.  God has given you gifts, they’d remind us, and you have to figure out how you will use them to positively impact others, even if in a small way,” she said.

Glasgow’s gift is creating beautiful things, and while running a fashion startup is challenging, she feels giving up, would be like burying her talent.  Instead, she plans to share it with the world. Her high-quality resort and swim wear pieces are currently delivered to Caribbean-based customers via LIAT Quick Pack or couriered by willing travelers.  But she’s focused on building a sustainable production model to enable greater Caribbean presence, and gaining a foothold in the US, UK, EU and Dubai where she has captured the attention of buyers.

“… We have exceptional talent in St. Vincent that often does not go beyond our shores.  So I’m working on raising the capital to enable me to partner with local artisans.” she said.

This will enable Glasgow to increase production so that she can fulfil larger orders from overseas buyers.

The takeaway for women in business

Know your worth, she says.  Women in business have a great deal to offer their communities and the world.  It’s time we diminish unnecessary obstacles on their path to success.

“And when I say that, I’m not talking about just the legal side. It’s the invisible things we do and say every day,” Glasgow said.  “Boys are never asked to set aside their entrepreneurial ventures to help mop the floor, or wash the dishes.  But if a woman is baking cakes and making a living doing it, it’s seen as a hobby.”

Instead, she said, with vision, and the appropriate support, some so-called hobbies can be developed into profitable business ventures.  Glasgow credits programmes such as Women Empowered through Export (WE-Xport) with creating a space where women can access the mentorship, technical and financial support needed to grow their businesses.

Through the programme, she successfully scaled up her business and is getting export ready.

The 2009 Caribbean Fashion Awards winner has shown at fashion weeks in Miami, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, St. Kitts and St. Vincent.  Mustique, Bequia, Grenada and New York have also featured her collections.  As she gears up for more meaningful export in 2019, the Kimya Glasgow brand is shaping up to be one to watch.

Visit the We-Xport booth at Bmex in June 2019 to view the Kimya Glasgow lifestyle brand.

Follow Glasgow’s fashions online at: and @kimyaglasgowinc on Facebook and Instagram.

Your True Shade, the innovative cosmetics line fusing science & nature

Dubbed Jamaica’s first healthy cosmetics line, Your True Shade is committed to producing products that celebrate the diversity of skin tones found throughout the Caribbean and beyond, and are free from the harmful chemicals commonly used in some skincare products. 

The brand’s creator, Dianne Plummer, entered the green skincare and clean cosmetics space like many others, out of necessity.  While studying sustainable energy and chemical engineering in Sweden and Finland, finding makeup that offered ideal coverage without irritating her sensitive skin and causing eczema flare ups proved to be challenging.  So, using her engineering background, Plummer formulated her own skincare and makeup line, using hand-picked, natural ingredients, and in 2015, True Shade Cosmetics Limited was born. 

Determined to be a trailblazer in natural skincare in the Caribbean, Dianne focuses heavily on innovation, research and development. 

I’m always trying to make everything better, change formulations and tweak things as we go forward, she said.  Because innovation has to be at the core of the business. 

The same old way of doing things is not a sustainable business model, she said, instead, a revolution is needed.  What will separate the outstanding entrepreneur from the average Jane or Joe is the ability to bring something new, never before seen or done, to the market.  In an already saturated market, like skincare, one must figure out how to do it differently and be innovative. 

By fusing technology, science and nature to deliver a safe, efficacious product, Plummer continues to innovate in her space.  She’s successfully changing the narrative surrounding beauty by making it synonymous with health.   

Plummer’s products not only conceal and minimise imperfections, the locally-sourced, natural, anti-inflammatory and hydrating herbs, spices and plant extracts used to formulate the line also promote healing and repair.  In essence, it’s makeup with skincare benefits.  

Your True Shade is also the first Caribbean cosmetics brand to be certified Cruelty Free International in the United Kingdom, and among the brand’s numerous accomplishments are features in European media, including on Richard Branson’s, and selection for the Caribbean Export Development Agency’s Women Empowered Through Export (WE-Xport) programme. 

WE-Xport provides mentorship, technical support and funding to women-owned Caribbean businesses to prepare them for export, and to expand their current exports. 

Your True Shade is in 10 stores across Jamaica, and is currently closing deals to enter three new stores. 

We want to dominate locally so persons can access the product in different parishes, Plummer said. 

We are also working on building a presence in the Caribbean, Europe and Africa.  So, with We-Xport I am learning the tools that are needed to get me into expanding beyond Jamaica, Plummer shared. 

In August 2019, Your True Shade will celebrate four years in business, and Plummer shared that she is pleased with its growth, and excited about being able to establish the brand as a global key player. 

This growth, and Plummer’s ability to maintain positivity and momentum during what has been an exciting, but challenging entrepreneurial journey are due, to formulating and sticking to a vision for her company. 

Every decision made, every person employed, every new product added to the line must be in line with that vision. 

Once I formulated my vision and started making decisions in line with it, I saw tremendous growth and cohesion with all my activities, Plummer shared.   

So that’s one thing I would like to leave with every single entrepreneur out there.  Keep the vision in mind, and tie every single business activity to that vision. 

Visit the We-Xport booth at Bmex, in June 2019, to find Your True Shade.

Find out more about True Shade Cosmetics: and join their community on Facebook @trueshadecosmetics and Instagram @yourtrueshade. 

Benlar Foods, het experiment dat uitgroeide tot een succesvolle onderneming en sociale onderneming

Founded in the land of wood and water, this social enterprise is transforming lives by offering healthy, nutritious foods, sharing knowledge and empowering other members of the community.

CEO Craslyn Benjamin established Benlar Foods in 2014, while working as a strategic forecaster with Jamaican food giant, Grace Kennedy.  It was initially an experiment intended to troubleshoot a supply shortage Grace Kennedy was experiencing.  Benjamin was contracted to grow scotch bonnet peppers, and with two acres of land, she rolled out a fully organic, best practice set up.  The experiment proved to be several times more bountiful than imagined.

“It was amazing,” she said.  What I made in three months of reaping, I was making in a year of salary at Grace, and they paid me really well.”

Inspired by her success, Benjamin resigned from Grace to run Benlar Foods fulltime.  She strategized on how she could increase yield, and grow produce efficiently, and she shared the knowledge gained with other farmers in her community, eager to ensure they too could reap her level of success.

“I wanted to increase the availability of authentic Jamaican products,” Benjamin said.  “Sometimes you hear, oh, I am not getting the authentic jerk seasoning anymore from Jamaica.  I have an issue with that because our country is known for its food and spices, so I feel the need to protect that,” she said.

After a year in business, Benjamin landed a major contract with Burger King.  It proved to be the stepping stone toward developing a sustainable business model.  She scaled up production, created new products and launched Benlar-branded spices, all with a view toward strengthening brand Jamaica.

Scaling up and going global

With four years of business under their belt, and six major contracts, what’s next for Benlar Foods?

They have just incorporated an e-commerce platform, which facilitates trade by enabling them to drop shipments in different countries.

Organic prepared foods are next on their list of offerings, and they are setting up an agro processing facility to facilitate this.  It will allow them to control freshness along the supply chain, add value, and meet customers’ preference for convenience.  It will be one of the only facilities in Jamaica offering a service of this kind.

They are also pursuing a Safe Quality Foods (SQF) certification, which will allow them to export to foreign territories like Australia and Sweden.

“This is really big for us, in terms of taking us to the next level where food safety and traceability are concerned,” Benjamin said.

Mentorship, training and an international outlook, keys to success

“Research programmes and organisations focused on training and mentorship,” Benjamin said.  “This is key to continued learning and evolution.”

The knowledge she gained through her enrolment in the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, and her selection for President Barrack Obama’s Young Leaders of the Americas initiative and Caribbean Export’s WE-Xport programme have been priceless and she continues to reap the benefits to date.  The programmes exposed her to how top US conglomerates manage fresh produce and distribution across several states, assisted her with developing a strategic action plan, and exposed her to a network of over 245 entrepreneurs from Latin America and the Caribbean with whom she exchanges ideas daily.

“You must network with entrepreneurs across the region.  Study how countries, like Cuba, Venezuela and Haiti do business differently, and see what elements can be beneficial…to your operation.  “We don’t operate in a vacuum,” she said.   “A global approach will be key to your success.”

Visit the We-Xport booth at Bmex in June 2019 to view the Benlar Foods’ product range.

Find out more about Benlar Foods, how they assist other farmers and empower the youth in their community.


Facebook and Instagram : @benlarfoods

Van Ethiopië tot St. Lucia, het Meme Bete-verhaal

While living and working as a development professional in Ethiopia, Meme Bete’s founder, Taribba do Nascimento helped women entrepreneurs get export-ready, and as she watched their ventures grow, she was inspired to follow the entrepreneurial path.

“The leather industry is really organized in Ethiopia, and I loved African prints, so I thought African print fabric with leather would produce a beautiful bag,” Taribba said.

She established Meme Bete in 2009, a brand specialising in crafting exclusive handbags and purses.

At first it was a side hustle she used to repay student loans, but after becoming a mom, Taribba gave up her job and dived into Meme Bete full-time, so she could stay at home with her son.

In 2012 Taribba returned to Saint Lucia and to full time development work, again making Meme Bete a part time venture.  It was a strategic move that enabled her in four years to accrue the capital needed to purchase industrial machines, hire staff and commence production full time from her very own atelier.

As a single mom relying solely on profits from an entrepreneurial venture and having responsibility for the livelihood of her staff, each day is a challenge.  Despite the rush of support from friends and family eager to support her venture, there were only so many bags they could buy, and when that initial support dwindled, it was time to convince strangers to buy.

Eyes Set on Becoming an Iconic Brand

Meme Bete will celebrate its 10th anniversary in April 2019, and Taribba is focused on increasing the brand’s visibility, as well as incorporating more personal stories in the hopes of inspiring others.  The brand is intentionally small and focused on exclusivity.  They do not replicate prints, and colour schemes are unique in each bag.  In effect, no two Meme Betes are the same.

The goal?  To be that thing people must get when they visit Saint Lucia.

“I want it to be synonymous with Saint Lucia,” do Nascimento said.  “There are the Sulphur Springs.  There are the Pitons.  And there is That’s what I want,” she said.

Fittingly, do Nascimento borrowed the name from a Saint Lucian saying that means same animal, same beast, loosely translated on island as “there is no difference; we are all the same”.

“It’s now trendy to buy artisanal products, and people are beginning to understand the need to support local economies,” do Nascimento said, “making it a great time to be an entrepreneur in the Caribbean.”

There is no shortage of talented people in the Region and Taribba is one of twenty women entrepreneurs that was selected to participate in the Women Empowered Through Export (WE-Xport) programme implemented by Caribbean Export.  We-Xport supports Caribbean women in business to start exporting or increase the exports of their products or services.

Find out more about Taribba’s journey by subscribing to her newsletter at:, and join the Meme Bete community on Instagram: @memebete.bags and Facebook: @meme.bete.

Vrouwen empowered door export (WE-XPORT)

WE-Xport is ontworpen om Caribische vrouwen in het bedrijfsleven te ondersteunen bij het starten met exporteren of het vergroten van de export van hun producten en diensten.

WE-XPORT deelnemers – Cohort 1

Hot Mama’s Belize Ltd
Caribbean Cure
Handelmaatschappij L. Willemsberg N.V.
Sugar Town Organics
Tamara Prosper
Julia Jimenez
Nadia Jabour
Jacqueline Cort-Thomas

WE-XPORT Zakelijke Coaches

Pablo Arroyo
Luis Ortiz
Jason Grullon