budding coconut business
FAIR PROSPECT, Portland:
Fulfilling a lifelong dream with the intention of offering better health choices to the populace is the motivating factor for Jennifer Jones, a Portland resident, who is on a quest to re-ignite the traditional use of coconut products.
Jones retired her full-time job as an executive assistant in hotel management to pursue her passion of making value-added products using coconut. But with limited resources, she quickly realised that it was never going to be easy making the transition.
Despite the early challenges, including stocking up on coconut, purchasing utensils, and obtaining a hydraulic presser machine to start production, Jones was determined to succeed.
Her troubled situation was, however, alleviated with assistance from the National Housing Trust (NHT) - through a competition aimed at assisting new and potential entrepreneurs. Jones won first place in growth of a new business, along with $2 million.
"I was more than prepared to pursue this dream and desire of mine," said Jones.
"I was making virgin coconut oil part-time, but decided to undertake it full-time, and thus I quit my job. The NHT competition was really a blessing for me and that has helped to provide me with renewed hope. I used to sell a few bottles of coconut oil to supermarkets, and the business was kept afloat with support from my son, Stefan Lee. But since winning this competition and with the prize money, I am now aiming for the sky," she added.
The prize money, which has been described by Jones as "a major boost", is being used for its intended purpose as stipulated by the NHT, to undertake major expansion of the business, so as to increase production and to provide employment to other community residents.
Jones said at no time was there any thought of failure on her mind. She noted that she was confident that the transition and success would be made over time with hard work and commitment.
A day in the production of the virgin coconut oil sees mother and son rising early in the morning to begin the ordeal of breaking the nuts in half, shredding the coconut on a specially designed machine, and then placing the shredded coconut into a hydraulic pressing machine, which goes through a process known as cold pressing, where the juice is extracted.
Following the process of extraction, the juice (liquid) is placed into a transparent container and then cover for the process known as separation to take place for a period of 10 hours - the coconut cream settles at the top, water in the middle, and oil at the bottom.
The coconut expert, who now produces other valued-added products, including coconut moisturiser, coconut soap, candle holders, earrings, necklaces, brooches, and coconut/ginger oil, is bubbling with confidence, as the tight space now occupied by her to conduct shredding, pressing, and extracting of the coconut milk will soon become a thing of the past.
"Patience is a virtue and my dream is now coming true. I will not disclose how I am able to extract the oil from the water and cream as that is my secret. I do the process known as cold pressing, as using heat will greatly decrease its nutritional value. Virgin coconut oil can be used for varied purposes, including cooking, moisturising, hair oil, weight loss, and for treating eczema. It also contains acids that are found in breast milk."