Four entrepreneurs who each paid homage to Jamaica’s natural resources and created value-added products won awards from the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) recently during the celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week, an event which targeted projects under the theme ‘Home Grown: Reducing Imports, Increasing Exports’.
Hjort Henry of HMH Farms copped the title of JBDC B.O.S.S Man of the Year while Dr Elorine Turner-Pryce of Eden Joy Whole Foods was awarded JBDC B.O.S.S Lady of the Year. The JBDC’s B.O.S.S awards are now in their fourth year.
Kareema Muncey of Home Choice Enterprises Limited’s placed second in her category while Oliver Welsh, chief executive officer of Woodland Roots Natural Drinks, was runner-up for males.
The JBDC, explaining the context of the award, noted, “With the reality of Jamaica’s widening trade deficit, there is a need for local business owners to begin to focus on export. Along with this imperative is the island’s need to work on import substitution plans that encourage local entrepreneurs to provide food security and expand Jamaica’s export capabilities.
“All four entrepreneurs that made it to the top this year operate businesses that show the value of home-grown products and have also made their way beyond local borders.”
HMH Farms specialises in livestock and genetics, goat meat and food items such as eggs and broiler chickens. Henry has the country’s importation trends in mind and is positioning HMH Farms to deal with the problem of the country only producing 15-20 per cent of our local goat meat consumption. He said, “We hope to help close the gap in the country’s importation bill of goat meat and food items such as eggs and broiler chickens.”
Dr Turner-Pryce, through Eden Joy, coaches for healthy lifestyles. Eden Joy is family-owned and they operate a holistic health store, a water distribution project and vegan food manufacturing. Dr Turner-Pryce explained, “I was raised on a farm, and in my simple community in St Elizabeth, where we ate what we grew and lived off the land.” Eden Joy works specifically with the local farmers to produce its products.
Home Choice specialises in the processing and packaging of food items such as peppered shrimp, extracts, Indian curry powder, and other condiments, while Woodlands is a manufacturer of natural roots and drinks. Both companies’ products are sold locally and overseas.
The JBDC commented, “A common thread throughout the journey of these four entrepreneurs is the fight for independence and freedom within their work. This grit is a feature of many entrepreneurs that have risen to the top and in a discussion segment of the awards event, each shared their story.”
Muncey’s journey also began at home, where she said, “My mother did anything for a buck, she would sell downtown at the flea market.” She also recognised she had a knack for selling and began her pursuits in high school selling macramÃ©. Muncey said, “What is very important is for us to discover what skills the Almighty has given us and work at those.”
Henry had an interesting journey into entrepreneurship with a surprise redundancy setting him on a path for independence. He explored a computer repairs business and through it realised he didn’t have to work the traditional 9-5.
An unfortunate health scare led him into reflection and he started HMH Farms, because “people must eat”, he said. Henry shared, “When I began farming I realised I actually do love it, because it is therapeutic.” Continuing, he said, “Entrepreneurship really does give you freedom and it gives a sense of accomplishment when you create something and you see it grow.”
In 2011, Welsh of Woodlands had an epiphany after working in the hotel industry for over 19 years. He said, “When you work in the hotel industry overseas and you get to a certain age, they don’t want to employ you anymore and so I knew I needed to start something for myself.” This is exactly what Welsh did and pulled back on a skill he learnt from his youth and created Woodlands.