Recognizing the crippling effect that the invasive seaweed species Sargassum was having on his home island of St. Lucia, Johanan Dujon opted to turn an obstacle into an opportunity. He founded Algas Organics, the Caribbean’s first indigenous biotechnology manufacturing company, in 2014, to harness for agricultural use the abundant seaweed threatening the tourism-dependent economy as it piled up on beaches and choked fishing boat engines.
As a result of his hard work and dedication to his vision, Johanan has a swathe of accolades under his belt, including being named to the internationally-renowned Forbes 30 Under 30 – Manufacturing and Industry list in 2020. His long-term aim is to establish Sargassum into a new regional industry within the Caribbean which preserves the marine ecosystem, creates sustainable employment and supplies growers around the globe with world class crop nutrition and crop protection products.
In 2022, Nudge, the social enterprise powered by Massy, made an equity investment of USD 100,000 in Algas Organics, as well as leveraging a partnership with Ernst & Young auditing to support the growing company. “One of the biggest differences for me was that Nudge offers support rather than applying pressure,” Johanan commented. He felt that he had people in his corner who were providing the kind of genuine encouragement and tangible backing that every entrepreneur dreams of. Now he has been able to hire ten employees to continue the expansion of Algas’ operations.
At the Agri Expo Conference in Trinidad in 2022, Johanan was introduced to senior members of the Governments of Guyana and Barbados by the President and Group CEO of Massy Group and Nudge Caribbean Director Gervase Warner. The young CEO hopes that these new connections will lead to an opportunity to create a production and processing facility in Barbados in order to supply Algas’ bio-stimulant to Guyana, which in turn may support higher yields in food crops. He envisions a future state in which Sargassum fuels food security in the region, rather than threatening its marine and by extension human life.
Johanan is a shining example of the wonderful ripple effect that Nudge is achieving alongside our talented Entrepreneurs, and a reminder of how much we Caribbean people can accomplish once given the confidence and resources to step into our potential. As he himself told a Washington DC audience in 2019 at the Earth Optimism Summit, organized by the Smithsonian Institute, “If you match innovation with funding, mentorship, technical support, and community and environmental conscience, what you’re going to get is a revolutionary solution which can stand out at the global scale.”
On any number of days in October and November 2022, you might have heard young voices giggling through the lofty halls of Castle Killarney (long known to locals as ‘Stollmeyer’s Castle’), engaged in earnest debate. “I think it’s Mille Fleurs!” “No, no, I like Whitehall!” “My daddy went to QRC and I’m going to go there too when I get big – that has to be the best one!”
The subjects of their discussion – Queen’s Royal College (QRC), Hayes Court, Mille Fleurs, Roomor (also known as Ambard’s House), The Archbishop’s House, Whitehall, and Castle Killarney – make up Port of Spain’s Magnificent Seven, the historic buildings all situated around the Queen’s Park Savannah. These buildings, and their history, were the star attractions of The Most Magnificent exhibition, put on by Bright Eyed in collaboration with Castle Killarney and proudly supported by the Massy Foundation.
In 2014, the creative company Everything Slight Pepper established the “Bright Eyed” brand with the aim of developing Caribbean-themed children’s edutainment products that would, in their words, “engage children’s curiosity and foster a desire to support and protect Trinidad and Tobago, with a future vision of extending to the wider Caribbean”.
Following the successful launch of their latest children’s storybook, “The Most Magnificent” in May 2022, which saw the seven historic houses engaging in an argument about how to determine which of them was indeed most magnificent, Bright Eyed sought to create an exhibition that would bring the pages of the book to life. The main aim of this exhibition was to allow for an interactive experience into a slice of T&T’s history in a way that targeted children while offering enjoyment and education for all ages.
Within the first few days of opening, more than 30 school groups had already signed up to participate in the guided walkthroughs, and every day dozens to hundreds of guests roamed the exhibit, admiring the larger-than-life reproductions of the book’s illustrations and poring over the various artifacts from a hundred years of Trinbagonian history that had been lent by the National Archives.
The exhibition also featured a supplemental calendar of weekend workshops where young (and not-so-young!) visitors could participate in hands-on art appreciation projects, create their own artwork to take home, and more. Each activity was designed to strike a balance between art, culture and education and to encourage participants to think about the differences between the past and the present and what we can learn from our history.
As a strong supporter of buying, appreciating and protecting local, the Massy Foundation was pleased to be a sponsor of this initiative!
Peter Lim Choy