Safe food with zero waste!
For Micro-, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises Day 2023, we celebrate small entrepreneurs from all over the world. Small businesses account for 90% of the world's businesses, 60 to 70% of employment, and 50% of the global economy. They contribute to local and national economies and to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. For MSME Day, we have interviewed Sophia Searles, heading Searles Agro Products, an agroprocessing company in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Tell us about your company.
My name is Sophia Searles. I am heading Searles Agro Products, an agroprocessing company in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. My mother Hollis Searles started the company almost 30 years ago. In 2016, I took over the reins of the business.
The company manufactures peanuts, coconut oils and shredded coconut. We aim to offer high quality products at competitive prices that satisfy our customers. Products are available at all major supermarkets in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and are also exported throughout the region.
While navigating a male dominated industry, I have managed to steer the business through the pandemic, and the volcanic eruptions on the island of St. Vincent in 2021, all while increasing our revenue.
What is your greatest success?
We completed the construction of our new factory space and began operating in 2020. Less than three years later we are on our way to being HACCP certified, which serves as our commitment to upholding food safety regulations. Once complete, we will be one of only two companies locally to hold this international certification.
In addition, with this recent expansion, we believe that it’s important to live up to our social and corporate environmental responsibility and as such have decided to implement a Zero Waste Project, which will recycle 85% of the company's waste material generated during production. This waste will now be made useful and in turn create additional revenue for the business and job creation from recycling.
What message do you have for other entrepreneurs?
While I didn't expect taking over the company to be a cakewalk, I never imagined it being as difficult as it is. There is nothing easy about entrepreneurship. It really does take blood, sweat and tears. However, the lessons learned and relationships developed along the way, are lifelong. It's also rewarding to know that you are able to build and develop a brand while inspiring others along the way.