By Maurice John
My name is Maurice John, and I own a real estate business, CaribiDreams. If you don’t get to the end of this article, I want to state my intentions up front. I am starting a new farming business, Roots in Eden, selling a 49% equity stake (cash or resources) in that business to transform how the next generation views farming in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. If this interests you, read on.
Eight years ago, I registered two businesses, M. John I.T. Solutions, and Caribidreams. My dad wanted me to be an engineer, but fortunately or unfortunately, I fell in love with I.T. during my time at the St. Vincent Grammar School. Being the rebel that I am, I secretly dropped physics at college, forcing my way into a BSc in Computer Science. When I returned from university, I planned to prove I made the right decision in choosing I.T. I chose M. John I.T. Solutions as my starting business idea. I had some wins (my SDA hymnal app, over 1,000 reviews, and over 100,000 downloads on the Google Play Store), but ultimately, I failed. That failure was in the face of the fact that one of my younger brothers was on his way to becoming a lawyer and the other an engineer. The goalpost for real success in the eyes of many Vincentian parents is their children becoming a doctor, lawyer, or engineer.
To cut a long story short, I ended up in Canouan working on a dredger for the new marina company. I spent almost a year working there until I cussed out a very, very, very disrespectful Italian gentleman. I quit my job and started my other love, Caribidreams—the fusion of I.T. and Real Estate. (Shout out to CARCIP for providing grant funding for this idea, your investment is being used wisely. I am sure you are all proud.) Four years later, I am going back to the drawing board to create a new, more critical brand, Roots in Eden—a fusion of I.T. and farming.
Another significant experience that will be used for the union of I.T. and farming comes from watching my wife build her My Crown of Curls brand. She can source raw materials from all over the world to create and package high-class hair products that she sells locally and ships internationally via DHL and her website e-commerce platform. (Shout out to the government for recognising the importance of and providing duty-free concessions for products made locally)
Roots in Eden can be summarised under three business pillars: grow, innovate and restore.
- Tradition farming, but let’s make it sexy by infusing some I.T. Making it smart and more automated will inspire more young persons to gravitate to the industry.
- Create a land bank since there is no storage of unused farmland in SVG; we need to create a land pool that will generate innovative employment for our Vincentian youths.
- Crop in. Product Out. Sending raw materials out and importing the final product does not make sense in 2021. The lowered cost of production and the availability of free information needs to be capitalised on. Our first of many products will be tea bags (ginger, lemongrass, mint, etc). Let’s tap into our loyal diaspora; I would rather see Vincentians aboard line up in supermarkets to buy Vincentians made products instead of Vincentians lined up in front of MoneyGram and Western Union.
- Create a centralised e-commerce system built on a subscription model for monthly food supply.
- Rethinking the YES programme by making it a sustainable model. This requires raising capital to provide workers for farmers, who will, in turn, replenish the funds’ pool after crops are harvested.
- I.T. as a service. We want to share everything we have learned with farmers to help them develop their brands. Packaging, web e-commerce technology, social media, google ads, youtube, no digital marketing stone will be left unturned.
- The flagship product, 4G (partner with a local telecommunication provider — fingers crossed) + solar + cameras = protection of crops from thieves.
- Drip irrigation
- We want to create a brain trust that researches how we can better the farming experience at every level — a major focus on being eco-friendly and climate resilience.
I absolutely love the interest St. Vincent is getting from major hotel companies. However, if we want to compete and build our people truly, we need an alternative model for accommodation. That solution is a distributed eco-hotel built on local farms with our local farmers as shareholders. I believe in generational wealth, and as a black man, I choose equity over a basic income. We need income-generating assets that we, as sons and daughters of slaves, can hand down through our generation line.
Tourists live in concrete jungles; added to that, COVID-19 has kept the world in our private prisons. In the coming years, the world is going to require mental, emotional, and spiritual restoration. Can you beat coming to a cabin on a farm, fresh air, organic food, excellent views, and possibly some Vincentian weed? I think not.
If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. I wish to bring onboard as many persons who can breathe as much life into this idea. Call Mr.
Property Arigiculture (784) 492-6128 or email us at [email protected]
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].