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.”