THE business stars were definitely shining brightly last Saturday evening when the St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture held its 8th Annual St. Lucia Business Awards at Johnsons Centre in Rodney Bay.
Green Haven Fresh Farm won three of the twelve competitive awards up for grabs on the night (Prime Minister’s Award for Innovation, Green Award and Idea of the Year Award). Owner Jameson Alphonse, of Bois d’Inde, Choiseul, said he was most elated that agriculture still has the potential to be recognized at the highest level of business.
After being introduced to aquaponics some years ago, Alphonse said his interest piqued after he did extensive follow-up research on the branch of agriculture which involves combining conventional aquaculture with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. That has led to him customizing his farm to incorporate both soil-based and the new technology into his lettuce production in the past year.
“There should be no limit to investing in agriculture,” the 37-year-old said. “Agriculture is the way forward. I mean, we are importing too many products that we can grow locally. Therefore, we need these kinds of innovation to try to turn that around… It is sustainable and rewarding and the youths especially should get into it.”
Other winners included the following:
•Service Excellence: Emagine Solutions Inc.
•Young Entrepreneur of the Year: JohananDujon, Algas Organics
•Goods Exporter of the Year: SMJ Beverages (Saint Lucia) Ltd.
•Service Exporter of the Year: FDL Consult Inc.
•Excellence in Human Resource Development: Windward and Leeward Brewery Ltd.
•Marketing Excellence: Bay Gardens Resorts
•Corporate Leadership: Sebastian Sanchez, Windward and Leeward Brewery Ltd.
•Corporate Social Responsibility: Cool Breeze Jeep Rental
In the only non-competitive category of the night, Dunstan and Tony Duboulay were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award for their sterling contribution to the business community. The brothers, who founded Duboulay’s Bottling Company Limited nearly 50 years ago, attributed their success in the soft drink business to dogged determination despite many challenges.
“The two of us have spent our entire working lives in pursuit of the success of this business,” Dunstan said.
Said Tony: ‘This achievement is not just for Dunstan and I but for our entire workforce at Duboulay’s Bottling. Without them, we would not have made it to where we are today.”
Chamber President, Martin Dorville, said the Chamber had over the past year assiduously pursued a “strategic transformation exercise” to better serve its membership. He said the Chamber aims to become a more formidable organization so as to make a more meaningful and “impactful member-focused organization” that redounds to Saint Lucia being a prime destination for investment.
“We believe that if we can collaborate as one decisive entity, we can make Saint Lucia the place of choice to do business,” Dorville said. “I urge members to embrace this mantra and call on those folks who are not active members of the Chamber to play a significant role starting now. I also call on the private sector organizations to rise above the politics of division and join hands to effect meaningful improvement in the business environment. We need to work together.”
Unlike previous years, the nomination pool this year was small, resulting in four categories fielding only one nominee. However, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet encouraged the winners – and nominees – to continue pursuing excellence, adding that government will be putting the necessary facilities in place to support their business aspirations.