KINGSTON, Jamaica: The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) annually awards exceptional local entrepreneurs through its B.O.S.S MAN and B.O.S.S LADY OF THE YEAR programme. This year’s finalists disproved the old adage that dissuades mixing family and business as the programme saw two couples vying for the awards.
On November 12, 2021 Mr. Carl Sharpe of Chocollor Chocolate copped the B.O.S.S Man of the Year award while his wife and business partner Donna-Kaye Sharpe took home the B.O.S.S Lady of the Year award. The other power couple, Michael and Sonia Moodie of Portland Authentic Jerk were the runners-up for this year in their respective categories.
The Entrepreneurs’ Journey – and JBDC
Behind Chocollor Chocolate, a premium Jamaican chocolate brand, is a couple who has committed their time to the success of their company. Mrs. Sharpe recounts the beginning stages of their journey and how Carl’s desire to create chocolate simply started as a hobby. The hobby graduated to a business as they recognised the viability of their product as well as the need for the equipment they purchased to begin to make return on their investments.
Through the assistance of JBDC, Chocollor was able to formally go to market in 2019 with their sole customer at the time being JBDC’s Things Jamaican™ store chain. The company has since successfully pivoted with more locations carrying their products, as well as providing slabs of chocolate to hoteliers. Mr. Sharpe aptly describes their relationship with JBDC as business partners, while Donna-Kaye sentimentally remarks that the nurture and care provided has felt like familial support.
The Moodies of Portland Authentic Jerk, producers of one of Jamaica’s distinct flavours saw a deficiency in the market as what they tasted did not adequately resemble what they grew to know and love. They immediately saw the opportunity to recapture the authenticity of jerk seasoning and began their business.
Upon beginning their journey in 2013 Michael Moodie saw room for development and contacted JBDC where they received guidance to improve their business. The Moodies displayed their commitment to their brand and have since graduated from JBDC’s Accelerator programme and are now currently enrolled in the government’s Export Max III programme.
On living, loving and working together
A question that might be looming is how they manage being both partners in life and partners in business. Both couples attribute the success of their companies to the balance found in their business and personal dynamics. “A key ingredient to navigating this type of relationship is being understanding. In the event of disagreements, it is important to be able to sit down and calmly work through each other’s opinions,” Mrs. Moodie said.
As the Production Manager for their company Sonia jokingly commented that her recipes also create chemistry within their personal and business lives, confirming that the way to a man’s heart is indeed through his stomach. The Sharpes reiterated the views of the Moodies. “It is important to be aware of each other’s strengths and be able to trust the other in their roles. Compromise is also important in maintaining the balancing act of business and personal life,” Mr. Sharpe added. The Sharpes and Moodies are proof that there is success to be attained for couples in business which can yield the fruit of a lasting legacy.
REBOOT. RETHINK. REGENERATE.
Both businesses have demonstrated that there is need to ‘Reboot. Rethink. Regenerate’ as the theme for Global Entrepreneurship Week 2021 fittingly echoed. The couples had to make adjustments and identify business opportunities as the world continues to adapt to what is now the new normal. Throughout the pandemic, the couples saw remarkable success as the Sharpes of Chocollor Chocolate recorded an increase of value turnover by 150% during 2020-2021. While Michael of Portland Authentic Jerk reported that the company is still growing on an average rate of 35% per annum.
Corporate Communications Manager at the JBDC, Suzette Campbell explains that the winners were selected based on their fulfillment of the following criteria:
- Embodies the entrepreneurial Spirit and Mindset;
- Embraces a culture of innovation;
- Has evidenced significant change in revenue – Upwards of 20%;
- Entered the export market/Increased the value of current exports;
- Introduced a new product/service into the market;
- A JBDC Ambassador.
“This is our fourth year issuing these awards and it was the most intriguing for the panel. Both companies were nominated for the awards and stood out amongst the list of nominees. We recognised that these companies were operated by married partners and deemed it appropriate that they both be awarded in each instance. These trophies are extra special as they are designed by the JBDC team so you will not find a replica anywhere,” Miss Campbell added.
The B.O.S.S for ladies means BUILDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR SWEET SUCCESS, while B.O.S.S for the men means BUILDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR STRONG SUCCESS. Combined, the B.O.S.S means BUILDING OPPORTUNITIES STRONG AND SWEET! The Sharpes and Moodies are a testament that couples in business can experience strong and sweet success through capitalising on opportunities, maximizing guidance and supporting each other.