Your first impression of Joel Harrihar is likely to be that of a ‘bookish’ Guyanese youngster preoccupied with working his way feverishly towards a university degree. That is part of what he is. At 19, he is reading for a first degree at the University of Guyana and exudes the personality of an emerging intellectual.
Joel is, however, much more than that. His pursuits at Tain are, in fact, a stepping stone to immersing himself further into the world of business, the stepping stone already having been arrived at through ownership of a thriving tyre shop and a cane juice enterprise.
The last thing you expect to hear from Joel is that he is not a Guyanese by birth. He was born on the Caribbean island of Nevis to parents who had moved there in search of work and afterwards had decided to return home. At home he attended the Berbice Islamic School followed by courses at GUYSUCO in Mechanical Engineering before enrolling at UG where he is currently in his final year.
The tyre shop, he says, is around five years old and was pioneered by his father. These days, he says, he’s ‘the boss,’ his father having proceeded on a well-earned ‘sabbatical’ and his brother having been pressed into service in a strategic position. The cane juice pursuit, he says, derives from what he describes as ‘popular demand,’ the viability of the enterprise enhanced by the family’s modest cane-farming enterprise on a three and a half -acre plot which they own. It is a modest venture which he says, earns the family an additional income of $30,000 per week. All told, the two ventures employ four persons.
Not all of the three plus acres of land is under sugar cane cultivation. Part of the land is used to grow fruit – .limes, lemons and bananas, among others, which are sold to vendors and mini bus passengers in the Port Mourant areas.
Joel’s expansion plan includes the establishment of a second tyre shop, the opening of a vehicle workshop and investment in a bottling and packaging facility for what he says is a growing cane juice business. The business has already benefitted from a $9 million loan from the Institute of Private Enterprise Development.
Later this month, Joel along with a multi-disciplinary seven-member team of colleagues will travel to Massachusetts on a study tour designed to provide each member with some of the tools required to transform their entrepreneurial ambitions into reality. No one is more eager to ‘soak up’ the knowledge and to apply them to his own budding business enterprise than Joel.