Guyanese shine at Nestle’s Vision2Reality competition
By Nathifa Punch
Guyana possesses a great deal of creative and talented individuals throughout the length and breadth of its ten administrative regions.
Adaiah Fyffe, 27, and Crystal Charles, 20, are the two most recent young talented entrepreneurs that have taken up the mantle of sharing their value-added ideas at the Caribbean level, and have given Guyana that bright neon light of recognition. Not only have they represented Guyana, but they did so in a major way by jumping on the bandwagon of creating and sustaining healthy and environmentally friendly products that are bound to become the new trend of our nation.
These two young vibrant Guyanese are second and third place winners of the recently concluded Vision2Reality start up challenge, a collaborative project between Nestlé Anglo Dutch Caribbean, as part of the company’s Nestlé Needs Youth initiative, and Junior Achievement (JA) Jamaica. The project targeted youth aged 18-29, with the goal of supporting budding entrepreneurs across the Caribbean.
The project ran for eight weeks, from July 8 to September 14, 2021, and included 279 participants (groups and individuals) from Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago.
Adaiah, whose start-up product is called “WILD Rupununi”, copped second place with his business initiative that is focused on producing dehydrated tropical fruits that are indigenous to the Caribbean, including mangoes, guavas, papayas, pineapples and pumpkin, just to name a few, all naturally healthy and delicious. He was awarded a grant of US$2000 to fund his business.
Adaiah hails from Perseverance, East Bank Demerara. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Bedfordshire (UK) and is the founder of Muse Holdings Inc.
Adaiah shared that business is something that runs in his family and has been instilled in him from a tender age, therefore, the motivation to start his own business came naturally. He stated, however, that even though he grew up in a family that is into the construction business, he has always been drawn to agriculture.
His agricultural journey began when he attended the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA) where he did a programme in agro-processing. During his time there, he realised how unfortunate it was that fruits are wasted as the years go by and as the season for said fruits end.
The wastage of these fruits birthed his idea to have local fruits preserved and packaged so that persons can enjoy them whether they are in season or out of season.
Adaiah learned of the competition though his community WhatsApp group where a flier with details about the Vision2Reality start-up challenge competition was shared. He decided to take a leap of faith by signing up for the competition where he gained an experience like no other.
“It was very informative and then I got paired with a great mentor, Ms Hazel Marshall. She helped me to elevate everything that I already had done to the next level,” Adaiah explained.
He further explained that apart from boosting his confidence in his initiative, the lessons he was exposed to over the duration of the programme was a game-changer for him since they helped him realise that producing quality products was a necessity and not an option.
“Some of the lessons from the programme made me realise that hey, you must create high quality products that the consumers will love and want to have. Because consumers are the most important thing,” Fyffe expressed.
He also shared that networking is a great opportunity to get yourself and product out there.
Adaiah recollected his intro that piqued the interest of the judges, giving him an edge in the competition.
“Do you know how many fruits are wasted in my country? A third of all of our fruits that are produced are wasted. I can tell you, because I’m a GSA student. My name is Adaiah Fyffe, and I’m the owner of Muse Holding Inc and we’re about to share with you why supporting ‘WILD Rupununi’ is the way forward.”
He then went on to share the plans of his company and the variety of fruits persons enjoy that would aid in making his venture a successful one.
Referring to the venture as his brain child, Adaiah stated that he is in no rush and intends to take his time to perfect his product.
“I know that I will have a few competitions and I welcome them. What I’m about to bring is very interesting and very unique. Some of the things that I intend to bring to the market is native to our land and native to the region, but trust me, it is very unique,” he assured.
Adaiah further shared the time at which his products will be hitting the market is very close, noting that as soon as he acquires the necessary equipment to start production, his “WILD Rupununi” products will hopefully be on the market before the year ends.
“I will try my best to get in contact with supermarkets, the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) to take part in having my product displayed and sold and I will utilise the media to get it sold. But the next step is definitely bringing this viable product to the market,” he assured.
Crystal Charles, on the other hand, wowed the judges with her ENBIO initiative.
Crystal’s ENBIO – Environmentally Friendly and Biodegradable, gained third place in the competition.
Her venture produces and exports the sisal plant (sisal fiber & agave syrup), intercropped with quinoa.
Crystal received a grant of US$1000 for this not only unique, but also environmentally-conscious initiative.
“I’ve always been interested in sustainable agriculture and biodegradable products and just bringing something of value into the market. That’s why I decided to go along with sisal because it is basically a natural fibre that is 100 per cent biodegradable and it has so many uses.”
Crystal, who hails from Diamond, East Bank Demerara, is currently a senior at the University of Guyana, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture. She graduated from the St Stanislaus College in 2017 after completing sixth form, where she earned an Associate’s Degree in Natural Science.
Growing up, large-scale productions and working with farmers always piqued her interest and this was also continuously nurtured by her father who was in the sector himself. Crystal has always sought to be the best version of herself and is inspired to give back to not only her community but also the planet, that’s why she has vowed to make all her productions carbon-neutral and sustainable to the environment.
“And so, my business is really aimed at producing syrup – from the sisal plant – agave syrup and also producing natural fibres and we want to process these natural fibres into various products. But that’s a long-term plan because that is still in the works,” she explained. Her long term plans include producing containers and using the sisal as a fibre in the making of sustainable products since Guyana is moving away from the single use plastic concept.
For Crystal, joining the Nestle competition was not exactly her intention, but after she kept seeing posters of the competition on her social media ever so often, she took it as a sign that the universe was telling her to take that step. She got what she described as “a brain wave” and signed up for the competition at the very last moment.
She began writing down her ideas which she confessed did not seem great to her, but still pursued it since it was something that has always interested her.
Crystal explained that the lessons were extremely informative and helpful for her since she was able to grasp what she wanted the outcome of her business idea to be like, adding that mentorship played a significant part in her business.
In regards to her idea that was pitched to the judges during the competition, Crystal said she believes that the judges were drawn to her idea due to the fact that she was producing a product that was environmentally friendly and biodegradable, especially with our current climate crises.
“I think that they really loved the idea that the product that I was producing is biodegradable and its carbon-neutral and all of that. So, I think they really loved that idea in general,” she revealed.
The name “ENBIO” was created due to Crystal’s desire to create products that were environmentally-conscious. “I always wanted to make sure that the product I produced was environmentally friendly while also being biodegradable so I basically joined together the two words and came up with the name ENBIO which is short for environmentally friendly and biodegradable.”
Crystal shared that as it relates to the next step of getting her product on the market, she intends to do more extensive research so as to get the best out of the idea and produce quality items for consumers. She also intends to work on procuring the sisal plant and quinoa. “The plant is new to the Guyanese market and right now I am procuring that plant. I want to start transplanting it and you know, just the whole cultivation process in general with the sisal and also with the quinoa.”
Crystal shared that in regards to garnering assistance in finding a market for her products, Innovate Guyana has already reached out to her, along with her mentor who encouraged her to reach out to her after the cultivation process of her plants is completed.