Over EC$48,000 was disbursed among 10 small business owners on Tuesday, April 25, marking the final payments in the outstanding amounts for products supplied for the inaugural Vineyard Vincy Fest last year.
At a ceremony held by VincyKlus Inc, the agro-processing cluster, which, along with the Centre for Enterprise Development Inc, spearheaded the procurement of goods for the historic event on Marthaâs Vineyard, the cheques were presented to the suppliers. The first set of payments were made last October.
Vineyard Vincy Fest 2016 was held on August 27 on Marthaâs Vineyard, a popular summer spot located south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It was held under a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the government of SVG and Dukes County, Marthaâs Vineyard, on September 27, 2014, to encourage and facilitate closer relationships in order to enhance and expand cooperative efforts in preserving common traditions, and celebrating a long history of shared indigenous cultures.
Over 50 different products, valued at US$20,000, from 16 small businesses, were consigned to the SVG-MV Sister Islands Committee, formed by former SVG Consul General to the US, Selmon Walters, the groupâs director.
Speaking at the ceremony, president of VincyKlus Simeon Bacchus explained that the products were showcased at The Marketplace, which was the centre point of all activities at Vineyard Vincy Fest 2016. These products included chips (plantain, eddoes, breadfruit, banana and sweet potato), local fruit wines, pure and flavoured coconut oils, green seasonings, hot pepper sauces (original and flavoured), cocoa sticks, guava cheese, coconut fudge, soaps, body wash, arrowroot flour, brooms, mats, craft, visual arts, peanuts, ginger sauces, foot scrubs, creams, lip balms, and candles.
âOverall, Vineyard Vincy Fest 2016 was a favourable experience that has great potential for expansion and for marketing products from VincyKlus and the wider Vincentian small business sector,â Bacchus noted. âDespite low-level marketing of the event, the turnout was encouraging, with patrons interacting with the VincyKlus reps, to offer their approval and praise about the quality of the products that were displayed, and also, to have questions answered on various products.
âThe following resulted: Patrons were able to sample wines, chips and hot sauces, thereby making on-the-spot decisions to purchase, or in the case of wines order… Businesses and potential buyers on the Vineyard and Long Island expressed interest and arranged to negotiate to purchase. Market information was gathered and VincyKlus now has a better understanding of how to conduct business in the US market. The cluster has identified possible distributors in Brooklyn, New York.â
The former consul general, in his remarks, thanked the suppliers for their patience and implored them to take advantage of the opportunity which the demand for their goods presents in the diaspora.
âThis is and was a very worthwhile venture. The initial aim was to introduce your products to the United States marketâ¦ So now that Vineyard Vincy Fest is over, there is a market there for you for your produce, but what you need to do is work as a group and find agents who would carry your goods,â Walters stated.
âOne of the things we noticed that is in great demand in the diaspora in the USA is a product called farine. You canât send enough Vincentian farine in the United States. If you invest in farine, you canât go wrong. If you invest in black fish, you canât go wrong. If you invest in roast breadfruit, you canât go wrong. If you invest in plantain chips, eddo chips, potato chips you canât go wrong!â
Offering to assist the small businesses in accessing this market, Walters said it will be much easier now to get Vincentian products to the US because the Argyle International Airport is open.
âWhat prevented us in the past was the packaging, the labelling, because when you go into the US market, they want to see what is in there; what are the ingredientsâ¦ The quality has to be good; the quantity has to be good, and there has to be consistency,â he advised.
He commended the small businesses, CED, VincyKlus, and the committees in NY and St Vincent and the Grenadines for their roles in ensuring that Vineyard Vincy Fest 2016 came off successfully.
The shipment of products was also distributed on Long Island and in Brooklyn, New York.