Business

Wood Land Roots Natural Drinks on the move Small entrepreneur Oliver Welsh defies the odds – sees growth in his business

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

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Starting his small business, Wood Land Roots Natural Drinks, in 2012 was not easy for Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Oliver Welsh.

He had to face many challenges, such as having to walk from Portmore in St Catherine to Kingston, enticing persons along the journey to patronise his natural juices.

“It wasn't an easy road… rain wet me, and all kinds of challenges taking public transport,” the CEO revealed about his business journey.

Welsh says his break came in 2018 when he participated in the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association's (JMEA) Expo Jamaica 2018 at the National Arena, where he established a booth to showcase his natural drinks.

“A lot of people crowded me at 'Expo'. They tasted the drinks and felt good about the natural ingredients. Expo worked for me and I can't wait for the next one. It was a real blessing for me,” he says.

Such was the impact that he now supplies several local outlets, as well as some customers overseas.

Welsh offered that sales from the expo have assisted with the purchase of a motor vehicle, and he is now in discussion with Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) to expand the venture and to provide additional employment.

He is also planning to contribute packages of one of his products, guava sorrel, to schools in his community.

Before going on the market, Welsh says he sought and received help from Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) in the certification of his natural drinks.

He describes the certification process as not very difficult and “very “important”, as the confidence consumers have in the products is worth much more than the annual fee that is paid to have the products approved by a reputable body.

Welsh says he is also very thankful for the help provided by Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) in the areas of training, labelling and marketing.

He emphasises that the entity is his “right hand”, providing support when he is in need. “It is my home; whatever help I need, it comes through the JBDC,” he shared. .

The CEO tells that he participated in the JBDC's Small Business Expo 2019, held in May at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, and “people were very interested in the healthy aspects of the business”.

He says the presence of Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries Audley Shaw was significant, as he “tasted” samples of the juices and gave personal support and encouragement.

“I was very thrilled with the time he spent with small manufacturers. It was really good. I would go whenever they have it again,” the CEO says.

Before venturing into his small business, Welsh worked for several years at hotels in New Kingston, North America and the Caribbean.

He asserts that the natural drinks venture has been a good source of income for him, as “a lot of people gravitate after these products”.

“I love this business with all of my heart. I had an aim and a plan that I must make it and where I am now, it is God who took me there — and He is going to take me to the highest heights,” the CEO says.

“It is not all about money. This business is to see persons' health improve… where they eat right, exercise, drink a lot of water and natural drinks, and get lots of sunlight,” Mr Welsh added.


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