Wed | Dec 8, 2021

Growth & Jobs | Daveian Morrison transforms seaweed to goat feed

Published:Tuesday | October 1, 2019 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/Gleaner Writer

The influx of sargassum along our beaches has created a national crisis, but serial entrepreneur Daveian Morrison has created a business aimed at transforming the unsightly brown seaweed into goat feed.

Morrison conceptualised the idea for his latest business venture Awganic Inputs last year November, and since then, has got several persons to partner with him to make this dream a reality.

“I realised sargassum was a big issue and I saw that it was affecting our livelihood and our eco system and everything, so I said, ‘that seemed like something for me to pivot and to switch to’ and I diverted to sargassum and that is how it was born,” Morrison told Growth and Jobs.

Morrison is a Canadian-trained engineer who started Integral Recyclers Limited in 2016 and Integral Energy in 2017. The aim when he returned to Jamaica, he said, was to contribute to social change, and so his businesses were always targeted towards achieving this goal.

“Being in Canada and just liking cleanliness and seeing a society that was what I thought ours could be, it motivated me to say let me come back to Jamaica to see what I can do to improve our local thing,” he said.

Ridiculed

“I was deemed a madman to return to Jamaica in 2008, after graduating in engineering to come and try to be a superhero as my friend said, to clean up Jamaica,” he noted.

He said several persons have offered support on his entrepreneurial journey, including Derrick Gordon, Yorkwin Walter and David Gardener of Tijule Company Ltd.

Morrison said his company just completed its testing phase, which saw them working with champion goat farmer Devon Facey. The focus now is to start producing commercially and they have already secured a property in Old Harbour, where the processing will be taking place. He anticipates that the product will be on the market in another month.

Morrison has a busy schedule ahead of him. In addition to making preparations for production, he is planning for his trip to Amsterdam, Netherlands, in November to compete against over 120 other entrepreneurs as he represents Jamaica at Climatelaunchpad, the world’s largest green business ideas competition.

Morrison was selected for the international competition after winning the local leg, which is organised by the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre (CCIC) with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank. The programme is part of the entrepreneurship offerings by EIT Climate-KIC, the European Union’s innovation programme for climate change.

“I was against formidable opposition, [but] I just did what I needed to do and leave the rest to God,” said Morrison, who competed against 15 other entrepreneurs.

Chief Executive Officer of CCIC, Carlinton Burrell said the entrepreneurs benefited from boot camps and business development training leading up to the national finals.

“He [Morrison] was chosen because he was very solid with his business plan. He clearly identified his customer market and he demonstrated how he could scale this particular business and make it work for not just Jamaica, but for the Caribbean,” he said.

Morrison, along with the winner from Suriname and Barbados, will be representing the region at the global event.

“His product is climate-resilient, technologically advanced, and he has a solid team,” Burrell noted.

The world’s top 10 best ideas will win access to a regional accelerator programme. The overall winner of the global grand final will also receive a cash prize of €10,000, while the runner-up gets €5,000, and the team that secures third place wins €2,500.

Through his business, Morrison hopes to save the Government billions of dollars.

“The Ministry of Tourism and the Caribbean Tourism Organization will tell you that yearly, it cost us US$120 million in revenue to clean up sargassum, and it costs US$6 billion in lost revenue in hotel bookings and cancellations,” he said.

Morrison currently employs a team of five, noting that there will be a need for many more individuals as the operation grows. Because sargassum is seasonal, persons will be needed to get the product so it can be stored and processed.

“What Awganic Inputs really is positioning itself as is as a recycler of organic waste,” he explained.

A billionaire property tycoon based in Thailand has expressed interest in the company. They have also received seed funding from a Canadian investor.

“Our feed blend is to have Hi-Pro feeds mineral mix as a source of micro nutrients needed to make our ‘Supligen for goats’.”

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com