What began as a small take-away restaurant offering mainly Jamaican foods, quickly moved into the commercial production of frozen pre-seasoned meats, frozen soup and shelf stable Caribbean wet seasoning and sauces successfully targeted at the domestic and export market. This is the story of Woods-man Caribbean Ltd.; a family-owned agri-business company established in 2006, in Diego Martin, Trinidad and Tobago, which currently exports to Curacao, St. Maarten and Martinique.
In seeking to enter the export market, Woods-man obtained support from the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) and benefitted from participation in several of the Agency’s private sector development support progammes; these include the Direct Assistance Grant Scheme (DAGS), Break Point, and the 2nd CARIFORUM-EU Business Forum in London. Woodsman also participated in the Specialty Food Industry Consultation and Intellectual Property Workshop.
In 2012, Woods-man received a Regular procedures grant, under the Direct Assistance Grant Scheme, for the procurement of multi-dimensional mixers in accordance with international processing standards. To date, the investment has lead to improved productivity and maximised outputs for the company. Production has increased from approximately 600lbs to 2000lbs of frozen root crops and vegetables daily, with monthly sales also increasing by 80%.
“We were successful in being awarded a reimbursable grant for investment in machinery and registration of our brand in selected international markets. This has allowed us to expand the scope of our operation to include products targeted at the Speciality and Health Food market segments”, commented owner Vassell Stewart. “With the increased competitiveness and capacity that the new machinery will allow, we are now confidently engaged in discussions with a major local distributor who also has a United States-based import and export operation to distribute our products locally and in the US. This Grant has also strengthened our financial position, and our attractiveness to investors”, Stewart concluded.
Woods-man Caribbean Limited was also a finalist in Caribbean Export’s innovative business competition, Break Point. As one of 30 regional firms participating in the competition, Stewart saw the process as extremely useful, as it informed firms about the importance and level of research required when seeking to pitch ideas to potential investors. He further noted that the competition also provided an opportunity for participants to gain knowledge about the investment opportunities that exist regionally and within Europe.
“The objective of the company’s involvement in Break Point was to allow us to obtain a contractual agreement with a major distributor to market our seasoning and sauces in the European market. Even though we weren’t successful among the investors, participation lead to us undertaking a comprehensive and critical re-assessment of our business strategy, focusing on the attractiveness of the company based on innovativeness of the business concept, strength of its market demand, product uniqueness and quality of the management”.
Subsequent to participation in Break Point, Woods-man has made a collaborative link with the British Agri-food Consortium, a knowledge-based organisation assisting in the development of agrifood economies around the world who is interested in assisting regional agro-producers in the development of markets, products, policies and agri-food security.
As President of the Caribbean Agri-business Association (CABA), Stewart sees the work of Caribbean Export as pivotal to the continued growth and diversification of the agricultural sector across the region.
“Interventions from Caribbean Export have given SMEs in the agricultural sector the prospect to attract investments, either by improving exportability, such as product improvement and brand development, or through the facilitating access to finance. In the case of Woodsman, we are very confident that we will obtain the level of debt and equity financing being sought because of the development opportunities to which we have been exposed.”
Company: Woods-man Caribbean Ltd.
Address: Lot #4 Century Drive, Macoya Industrial Estate, Macoya, Trinidad and Tobago
Tel: 1-868-637-0748 or 1-868-360-3717