“I sold my car to start this business,” said a beaming Kadesha White of Kay M J’s Natural Juices, as she accepted her second-place trophy for the VIP OASIS Specialty Food Innovation Challenge. The Challenge was a main feature of the VIP OASIS booth at the recently held Denbigh Industrial, Agricultural & Food Show in Clarendon.
For the third consecutive year the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) took on the mandate of presenting the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture & Fisheries VIP booth, aptly themed VIP OASIS: Nature Refined. The booth is designed to showcase the strong linkages between agriculture and manufacturing by highlighting end products primarily in food & beverage, home & beauty accessories, as well as beauty therapy.
This year’s newest addition was the Innovation Challenge featuring entrepreneurs in the food and gift & craft. The participants were issued as challenge weeks before the event to innovate products using the main focus crops for the event which included mango, coconut and bamboo. Over the three-day period, patrons were invited inside the VIP OASIS to view the exhibits and vote based on areas such as visual impact, quality, creativity, taste, effectiveness and functionality. At the end of the voting period, the following entrepreneurs emerged as finalists:
VIP OASIS Gift & Craft Innovator Award
o 1st place – Lashanwdla
o 2nd place – Leila Williams-Edwards
o 3rd place – Billinder Hall
VIP OASIS Specialty Food Innovator Award
o 1st place – Winton Hudson (Dr. Bird Craft Cocktail Nectars)
o 2nd place – Kadesha White (Kay M J’s Natural Juices)
o 3rd place – Shada Watkins (Sweet Sista Candy Snacks) A total of 20 entrepreneurs participated in the Challenge. Other participants included: Valentine McLean, Marvia Reid, Moya Johnson, Cyrena Forbes, Victor Wallace, Racquel Malcolm, Brianna Leigh-An Johnson, Tena Harrison, Oris Shaw, Nella Stewart (Chorlavi’s), Reneisha Wilson (Neasha’s Island Vibz), Elorine Turner Pryce (Eden Joy Whole Foods), Mark Salesman (MK Turmeric) and Ronnetta Crooks – Allen (RSS Naturally).
Each finalist received a custom-designed and locally manufactured trophy made of wood and repose.