Friday, May 01, 2009

Sweet Honey on the Rock

I just spent an hour on the phone with my MBA-holding economist father, who has been farming for over 20years on the side, convincing him to write a business plan. Yes, it took that long. I had to remind him of the days when he used to tell me that I have every excuse in the book and then some, to justify my latest mediocrity. I pointed out that the conversation was making it clear just where I got that from. He complied. He has made a commitment to me to draft one when he goes on leave from his job as a customs officer in Jamaica.

I have a burgeoning passion for helping to develop the talent around me. So much of it lies in my family. But sometimes, we are restrained by fears of failure and the need to guarantee income to take care of the monthly expenses that come whether or not you sell on drop of honey or a morsel of cake.

So I understand. Having taken that plunge two years ago with serious personal debts, it turned really scary when business got slow. I am sure it was only just for a time, but I could not tell my creditors that indefinitely. After three months of not seeing big projects roll in like they did at the beginning, I started looking for the small ones to pay the bills. But still, the bills were too high and eventually the money ran out and within another three months, I started searching frantically for some stable guaranteed income for at least one year. Had it not been for the kindness of Imelda, I don't know what I would have done.

I have been there. I know the struggle. I know the anxiety that comes when you fall woefully short of your expenses. Had I not taken this current appointment, I would have lost my car, and done even worse damage to my credit. I may have even had to face court action with an unforgiving government student loan facility and bankers all demanding that their monies be paid in full.

In spite of that struggle, I still feel totally convinced that talented people have a God-given mandate to utilise their talent in ways that truly edify them and their community. All I want is for them to organise a little better so that they can take full advantage of the collective talent pool. When the time is right, and the business income far supersedes that of the 9-5, then they may call in for early retirement. If not, they can still earn more than a few dollars "on the side" by simply doing "them."

My father produces the Sweetest Honey on Jamaican Rock. If there wasn't already a group by that name - introduced to me by Harlem Mama - I would have used that as the brand. My job as daughter and eldest child is to challenge him, just as he challenged me when I was growing up. His time and money paid off. I am now the pain in his side, pushing him to be bigger than his muffled dreams.

He has taken some really hard blows. He was made redundant when Mutual Life, the oldest Life Insurance Company in Jamaica folded. He had been doing very well in insurance up until that point. He took his redundancy package and invested in several acres of fallow farmland. It was a good purchase, but he had four young children, and suddenly times became very hard. It was right before I was ready to go to university. Whatever investments he had put aside for my college education went to naught (hence the student loans). He took it hard. He was always a good provider until then. We struggled together as a family, but he felt so much joy his farm that it became a source of family pride. I remember us lining up to kill chickens in the backyard and cleaning so much crap off the eggs that we supplied to the company that handled in-flight catering services for several international airlines operating in Jamaica.

Business wasn't always good, and he was forced to take a job at a much lower position than he is qualified for just to have regular income and to be near the farm, which is based in Trelawny, roughly 2-3 hours drive from our family home.

So now... I am pushing him again. I am saying...yes buddy you have good ideas and you work hard. Let's think of it as a business, as the family heirloom and let's make money. Let's just make it work and not just for meagre profit or joy. Let's make it work BIG TIME.

I have been doing my own research because he soooo needs my marketing assistance.

I tell you, I hate marketing/PR for companies and governments but I take pride in being able to help my own family and those friends who are for all intents and purposes, family.

Here's to making some sweet honey on the rock.


Azikiwe said...

WoooOW ! didn't know of this...hmmm ,this is good skeleton material for your book...start working ! ;-)

Anonymous said...

message received madam!
"Jamrock Honey"

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