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:

De Caraïben één kopje thee per keer genezen

Sophia Stone founded Caribbean Cure in 2015. The Trinidad-based tea company was borne out of her passion for using nature to promote health and wellness.

“I wanted to honour the long standing tradition in the Caribbean of using herbs and bush teas,” she said. “And backed by science, my goal was to make these healing remedies more efficacious, convenient and attractive to today’s consumer.”

Bombarded with ideas and wondering how she could turn some of them into a profitable entrepreneurial venture, Sophia quit her full-time job, to focus on the full-time pursuit of her dream.

But her initial line of eight herbal supplements failed to garner the success she’d hoped, and after depleting her savings, Stone was faced with two very clear choices, pack it all in and quit “dreaming”; or, find another way to make the dream work. Like any true entrepreneur, she chose the latter.

Sophia’s new plan was to curate tea blends using the ingredients from her supplement line, but virtually all of her family and friends rubbished the idea, advising her to go back to her 9 to 5 – all but one.

Stacy Seeterram, a friend, and confidant, believed in Sophia’s idea, so she asked Stacy to partner with her in creating this new venture.

What helped to make the Caribbean Cure dream a reality, and what kept you motivated?

With five tea blends currently on the market, and the approval of family and friends who indulge in their curative, feel-good concoctions, Seeterram says their approach to business is one of their greatest motivators.

“We try not to worry about being successful,” she shared. “What we do is work toward being significant.”

In addition to keeping them excited about turning up for work each day, this approach won them international recognition as producers of world-class teas.

An opportunity to honour family traditions also keeps the duo laser-focused. There’s a little bit of history brewed in each cup of Caribbean Cure tea. Island Breeze, a delicate blend that includes cardamom pods and white tea, is a tribute to Stone’s Afghan/Canadian heritage, and borrows from one of her family recipes; while Carnival Oasis with its inclusion of cinnamon, clove and mauby bark, transports Stacy – a Trinidadian, with roots woven throughout the West Indies – back to her childhood, as it conjures memories of her grandmother’s “magical” blends.

What’s next for Caribbean Cure?

Caribbean Cure’s short-term intention is to increase production capacity and efficiencies to enable greater access to Caribbean markets. Through the Women Empowered through Export (WE-Xport) programme, they have forged key partnerships with a strong CARIFORUM trade agenda.

In July 2018, Caribbean Cure, unveiled new packaging, beautiful tea tins, adorned with designs created by a local artist.

The team is now set to enter into the next phase of tea export negotiations with their partners in the EU, Canada and Japan, and feels poised for an upward swing in the company’s development. They’ll be participating in the 4th CARIFORUM-EU Business Forum and Authentic Caribbean Expo hosted by Caribbean Export on September 26-28, 2019 in Frankfurt, Germany.

A few takeaways for budding & aspiring entrepreneurs.

Sophia and Stacy share that one of the most valuable lessons they’ve learned on their entrepreneurial journey is the importance of releasing emotional attachment in order to facilitate growth.
“Do not fear mistakes,” Stone advised. “Regrets are far more difficult to deal with than mistakes. You walk away from a mistake having learned something, but a regret is a missed opportunity,” she said. “Even if it seems beyond your reach, try. You will amaze yourself with what you are capable of.”

Find out more about Caribbean Cure: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn – @caribbeancure 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:

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

Hoe een Haïtiaanse ontwerper haar side-hustle veranderde in een belangrijk sieradenmerk

It’s safe to say that Daphnee Karen Floreal, accidentally stumbled into business by doing what she loves.

In 2005, while studying for a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, making jewelry was merely a hobby for the Haitian entrepreneur. It was a creative outlet that provided a sometimes much-needed break from academia. Daphne unwittingly became her best advertiser, as the unconventional pieces she crafted for herself captured the attention of friends, fellow students and others. She was initially giving them away but started to sell them below market value to earn pocket money.

Visibility Transformed a Side Hustle into the Main Gig

She dreamt of being a designer, but believed it was impossible to earn a living doing so in Haiti. Two years after she started crafting her pieces however, a breakthrough came with the inaugural Artisanat en Fete, a craft tradeshow that brought greater visibility to the country’s artists and artisans.

“It is one of the events that I think gave me more exposure and helped me gain regular customers,” Floreal said.

Her work was innovative, and as the youngest designer trading at the show, she garnered media attention giving Bijou Lakay the publicity it needed to transform the young designer from a hobbyist, to the CEO and Creative Director of her own company.

Debbie bracelet with Zing earrings

Haiti Fashion Week followed, providing another opportunity for Daphnee to showcase her work, this time, bigger, more expressive pieces – literally works of art.

Results-focused Business Strategies Key to Sustainability

As a graduate in Business Administration Daphnee understood that in addition to her creativity, running a successful accessories start-up required business savvy and strategic thinking. She needed to always be on the lookout for opportunities to gain visibility, and capable of producing new, exciting designs and advertising concepts that keep customers interested and attract new ones.

“Positioning is key,” she said. “Photoshoots utilising models have helped to increase sales, because they show potential customers how to wear the pieces.”

While Daphnee is in the business of art, she reminds other creatives that the key word is ‘business’. She therefore sets targets and produces reports detailing successes and failures of her product lines, allowing her to make the pivots necessary for continued growth like any other corporate entity.

“I studied management, and am now working towards my MBA, so my professional background definitely features in Bijou Lakay’s day-to-day operations, and is integral to its success,” she said.

Social Impact, the Greatest Achievement of all

In 2018, Forbes identified Daphnée as one of ten innovative Haitian entrepreneurs changing the narrative. This and other strategies have enabled Floreal to gain international recognition and Bijou Lakay is now available regionally, in Europe, North America and online.

Joutte collection 1

But as she works to expand Bijou Lakay’s international footprint, Daphnee remains focused on what’s most important, strengthening the brand’s social impact.

“My primary goal is to make a difference in my community,” she said. “We have more than eight artisans who work for us, who, without this work, could not afford to send their children to school.”

“Whenever I feel discouraged, I think about the artisans, and it’s one of the things that keep me motivated,” she shared.

Fusing Cultures in Bijou Lakay’s Future Plans

A primary goal for 2019 is therefore to increase the number of crafts people working with the company.

“We’re particularly focused on Africa and Latin America,” Floreal said. “We will still be a handmade line from Haiti, but these collaborations will facilitate a fusion of cultures through design, and I think that’s exciting.”

Visit the We-Xport booth at Bmex in June 2019 to see Bijou Lakay’s unique and exciting jewellery collections.

Follow Bijou Lakay’s progress, catch a glimpse of their pieces and/or make a purchase at:, and @ BijouLakay on Facebook and Instagram.

Willemsberg, de Surinaamse erfenis die bewijst dat het omarmen van verandering de sleutel is tot een lang leven

This Surinamese company first opened its doors in 1960, and at the time, Willemsberg founder, Leo Willemsberg imported white sugar. But when Suriname started producing its own sugar, Leo needed to find an alternative import, and opted for shelled peanuts.

By 1980, the next generation of Willemsbergs were at the helm of the company, and keen to start a more creative, entrepreneurial venture.

Willemsberg Managing Director Susan Tjong A Hung
Managing Director Susan Tjong A Hung

“My brother said why don’t we produce our own peanut butter; so instead of continuing to import peanuts for other peanut butter producers, we started our own factory,” Leo’s daughter, and Willemsberg Managing Director Susan Tjong A Hung shared.

They started with two varieties, first a creamy version, and then crunchy with chunks of peanuts in it. Next came a hot variety with pepper, and finally, diet versions were added.

Today, there are six varieties of Wippy Peanut Butter. The preservative free nut butter consists of 95% peanuts, is sold in over 1,500 shops and supermarkets across Suriname, and has grown to become a trusted, recognisable brand and a huge favourite with the Surinamese people.

How increased competition spurred exports
As more companies across Suriname started producing peanut butter, Wippy’s market share fell from 65 percent to 35. Whilst working on reclaiming five to 10 percent of the market through increased marketing events, such as supermarket tastings and health and wellness campaigns in schools, they have also turned their attention beyond Suriname’s shores to capture more sales.

“We have an excellent distributor,” Susan said. “They are the sole distributors for Coca Cola in Suriname, and they are doing a great job at pushing the Wippy brand.”

Distributor Fernandes has already taken Wippy into Guyana and is currently working on expanding their presence there.

With assistance from the Women Empowered Through Export (WE-Xport) programme, Willemsberg is now also looking to Europe to boost sales.

WE-Xport provides technical assistance, grant funding and training geared toward preparing women-owned Caribbean businesses for export.

Fosten Peanut butter. The Wippy brand is marketed as Fosten in The Netherlands.
Fosten branded peanut butter

“We had a lot of help from our WE-Xport coach, and this enabled us to export to The Netherlands,” Susan shared. “The coach guided us through the process and researched the documents and other requirements needed to export to and promote our product in Holland.”

Unable to sell in The Netherlands under the name “Wippy” because of its similarity to internationally-known peanut butter brand “Skippy”, the Willemsberg team registered the name “Fosten” – a reference to the traditional way of making peanut butter in Suriname.

With the necessary paperwork done and registration complete, Willemsberg exported their first palettes of over 6,000 jars of Fosten peanut butter to Holland where they are focused on the Surinamese diaspora of approximately 400,000.

Flexibility and teamwork, key to Willemsberg success

Willemsberg production personnel
Willemsberg production personnel

The ability to read and respond to market trends has played a crucial role in keeping Willemsberg in business for almost 60 years. But the true credit, says Susan, must be given to her 34 members of staff.

She offered up this nugget for other small business owners.

“Do not be afraid to trust and count on your management team and employees. Give them the opportunity to help, and to express their ideas,” she said. “Invest in your employees, guide, coach and always be honest with them, and you will see that this will reflect positively in your company’s performance.”

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

Find out more about the Willemsberg story and Wippy Peanut butter at: and on Facebook and Instagram @wippypindakaas.