Hafeeza Smith, 35, is the proud manufacturer of a variety of locally produced organic products such as extra virgin coconut oil, macerated carrot oil, coconut flour and coconut snacks, among others under her company, King Chezomi Manufacturing Enterprise.
Smith, according to the Department of Public Information (DPI), explained that after being diagnosed as a diabetic, she decided to begin experimenting in 2015 with extra virgin coconut oil.
After receiving positive feedback, she was encouraged to increase her production. She said her friends would also share with others, and some customers took samples overseas.
Smith, of Lot 718 Number One Road, East Berbice Corentyne, managed to perfect the formula in 2017 and heeded President David Granger’s call to become an entrepreneur after her husband suffered an injury and was out of a job for over three months. DPI said that she began selling to neighbours who helped spread the word and the demand for her extra virgin coconut oil continued to rise.
“After my husband’s injury … the money I was making came in useful, then I started to think should something happen to him what could I do because I was just a housewife. I tested the local market but many persons didn’t know much of the extra virgin coconut oil and only buy the regular ones”, she said.
The mother of five approached a local printing company to assist in making her product labels more appealing. Smith said she then targeted the markets outside of her region and abroad.
DPI said that she decided to invest in mills and other equipment to produce on a larger scale. She also attended a one-week workshop on adding value to agro-processing, hosted by the Guyana School of Agriculture (GSA). She now has plans to further enhance her already special extra virgin coconut oil by adding flavours and other unique ingredients, DPI said.
She has also moved on to producing coconut flour that can be used for everyday cooking and baking. The flour, she said, “is high in fibre and gluten-free, very healthy for persons who have gluten allergies, persons suffering from diabetes and hypertension.”
Smith is also planning on producing breadfruit flour, breadfruit chips, tomato powder
and powered pepper among many other products in the near future.
“My whole plan is to do healthy products which Guyanese can afford. There is no reason for us to use things that have ingredients in them that we can’t pronounce or things people say are good for us and we end up spending a lot of money but have no benefits”, she said, according to DPI.
Working with a small budget for her five children aged two and a half to 15, she has decided to market her products at affordable prices to encourage customers to practice a healthier lifestyle.
She is appealing to Guyanese, especially Berbicians, to get off the “import bandwagon.”