Sun | Mar 24, 2019

Entrepreneur uses roots to bring harmony to Trench Town

Published:Monday | February 18, 2019 | 2:05 AM
Orette Bent of Ragga Roots Herbs and Tonics displays some of the products available through the Trench Town-based social enterprise. Ragga Roots is a recipient of the Queen’s Young Leaders grant through the Digicel Foundation to assist in the expansion of the social enterprise.
Orette Bent of Ragga Roots Herbs and Tonics displays some of the products available through the Trench Town-based social enterprise. Ragga Roots is a recipient of the Queen’s Young Leaders grant through the Digicel Foundation to assist in the expansion of the social enterprise.

Daleon Salmon is the founder of Ragga Roots Herbs and Tonics, a Trench Town-based social enterprise that produces organic drinks from local products. As Salmon puts it, everything the business produces is “from Earth itself”.

The winner of a grant from the Queen’s Young Leaders (QYL) programme, facilitated through the Digicel Foundation, Salmon will double the current capacity of his enterprise and ultimately export his products.

The Digicel Foundation was given the responsibility of the QYL grant facility of US$1.2 million some two years ago to expand the foundation’s work in social enterprise development. Award winners receive a year-long tailored package of online learning, mentoring and networking, and are provided with a one-week residential programme in the United Kingdom, during which they receive their award from Her Majesty the Queen.

IMPROVED EFFICIENCY

The funds granted to Salmon’s social enterprise will enable the outfit to acquire more equipment for processing drinks – tasks which are usually done by hand, including the grinding of ingredients. As the enterprise expands and becomes more efficient, it will increase production and sales, generate more income, create jobs and enhance profits.

Alongside the expansion, Ragga Roots has a vision of supporting efforts to foster peace and unity among residents. To this end, the team will participate in and support, in cash or kind, social and cultural events, health fairs, sporting competitions, and other similar activities to not only market its products, but share the message of good health with residents.

The funds will enable Ragga Roots to empower the community with social interventions and skills training. The initiative will benefit some 60 students and young people through this training and aims to reach the wider Trench Town area, which has an estimated population of over 27,000, a third of whom are under the age of 15. About 50 per cent of the population is also unemployed.

The surrounding community has, over the past seven years of the organisation’s existence, responded positively to the products.

'SIGNATURE TASTE'

“The feedback is always great. Our products have a signature taste," says Salmon. He believes Jamaicans are becoming more aware of health issues and are taking a serious interest in holistic medicine.

A devout Rastafarian, Salmon describes his range of roots drinks and teas as spiritually inspired and “pure”. Ingredients such as medina, the sarsaparilla root, and guinea hen weed are ground to a powder, boiled, simmered, and bottled, or packaged as tea bags. Some drinks are sweetened with honey. Ragga also produces wines from mango and guava.

Chief executive officer of the Digicel Foundation, Karlene Dawson, says the QYL programme will have a strong and positive impact on development.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this programme, which will unlock the potential of young people through social entrepreneurship. They can be change agents, reversing the trend towards violence and criminality. While creating economic opportunity and employment, the Queen’s Young Leaders will become a unifying and stabilising force for youth and for the wider community.”