Aaron Sylvester shares his experiences of starting a business in Grenada and advice for others looking to start a venture in the Caribbean too.
Thinking about launching a startup overseas? I got some great advice on starting a business in the Caribbean from someone who’s been there and done it. Check out my in-depth interview with the founder of Tri Island Chocolate.
London-born Aaron Sylvester is an unlikely chocolatier but the model of the Grenada Chocolate Company inspired him to leave a successful career in the UK music industry to introduce permaculture to the cocoa growing process.
Having inherited land from his grandparents, he bucked the trend of just leaving it to turn wild and, instead, decided to restore the cocoa trees growing on the land with a view to producing plant-based products.
Aaron is the first to admit that, being a city boy, he had to learn everything from scratch. In a previous interview, he explained: “I was always interested in exploring the ways in which I could contribute to positive change in Grenada," he says.
Observing the natural abundace of fruits, herbs and spices on the island he continues, "I felt that the fact that we had all these great products and finding a way to export them might be a way to improve people’s lives.”
For Aaron, Tri Island chocolate is just the start. His goal to inspire others to start looking in a different way at the crops that they have had on their land for generations by considering, for example, how can a single crop be repurposed into soaps, sauces, meat rubs or even a chocolate inclusion.
Aarons Top Tips for Entrepreneurs in the Caribbean:
1. Cash is King
Access to credit in the Caribbean is very different from the ease you might be used to in your country of origin, Ad to this the fact that things move at a 3x slower rate in the islands you'll find that you'l need a subsatial amount of financial runway to give your eneavour the best chance of success.
2. Get a Mentor
Before you even start thinking about booking flights, identify the person, ideally in your field, who can be your champion. Setting up overseas without the necessary support networks is an unecessary challenge. Wether its asking friends of friends or trawling LinkedIn, start building those connections now.
3. Know Your Why
IG snaps from entrepreneurs working from their poolside deckchairs can sell an very enticing idea of running a business in the Caribbean. Yet the slog involved in starting up in the West Indies is no different from anywhere else. Get really clear on your purpose as this is what will keep you moving when the going gets hard.
Are you thinking about launching a business in the Caribbean? What's your vision? Have you faced any challenges in achieving your goal? Let me know if the comments.
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