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Locally Grown Produce Gets International Spotlight

Babies from around the world could one day soon be raised on the best of Jamaican foods, courtesy of a team from The University of the West Indies, Mona (UWI). The team comprised of MBA students of the Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM) presented their business plan highlighting the value of brand Jamaica with their pitch for Giggles: baby food made from high nutrition Jamaican produce;

for which they won the first place award in the recently held Opportunity Funding Corporation Innovation & Entrepreneurship (OFCIE) competition. The MSBM delegation was the only non-US based team among 25 schools including Howard University and Tuskeegee University.This is the second time the UWI has won the prestigious competition which is held in Atlanta, Georgia.

The baby food product pitch came from the joint efforts of team members Donya- Jean Brown, Sacha Walters-Gregory, Suzette Pottinger, Kaydian Dawes, and Andre Moore under the company name Near Earth Delights Ltd. The Giggles brand wowed judges including representatives from Microsoft, UPS, and Sam’s Club. The MSBM delegation presented a business plan to respond to the international demand for high quality infant nutrition. Giggles products were positioned to compete internationally, and would be made from healthy Jamaican ingredients, reputed to exceed the nutritional value of any other source. The team proposed that products made from foods grown under ideal tropical conditions would be not only delicious and nutritious but the healthiest choice in “starter- foods”.

Professor Paul Simmonds Executive Director of MSBM expressed the school’s commitment to fostering the advancement of local businesses, saying “Winning this competition is not the end of a process it is really a beginning, as we endeavor to springboard these innovative ideas into fruition.” MSBM was instrumental in the process from start to finish, hosting the local leg of the ‘Venture Challenge’ alongside lead sponsor Scotiabank Small Business Banking. Simmonds also noted that the school provided significant support for the team throughout the process by connecting them with a support system of Jamaica’s finest business persons and scientific resources.

MSBM aided the team through its network of graduates and affiliates who volunteered their time to guide the team in key areas of their own expertise. Mr. Douglas Lindo, the team’s faculty advisor as well as corporate mentors such as Mark Chisholm, Elaine Commissiong, Jacqueline Scott-Crossley, Harry Smith, James Moss-Solomon and Garfield Gordon who contributed to the team’s success.

The Scientific Research Council (SRC) assisted in formulating the combinations of tropical foods that would produce optimal nutritional content for children ages 6-48 months. Special commendations are extended to Valmo Wynter, Annmarie Smith, Sardia Morgan-McDonald and Yanique Rodgers from the SRC who provided the technical guidance and expertise required in developing a comprehensive business plan.

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