Planting Seeds Caribbean Beta.
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Joe Pires - C.E.O, Caribbean Chemicals and
Joe Pires Jr.'s business experience started at age 5, when he began working various jobs at his
father's Trinidad-based company during school holidays. The company, Caribbean Chemicals and
Agenices Limited (CAA), was founded by Joe Pires Sr. in 1966.
In 1984, after graduating from the University of Guelph, Canada, with a major in Agriculture
Mechanisation and a minor in Horticulture, Joe returned to Trinidad to join CAA. Following the death
of his father in 1993, Joe became the Managing Director of CAA at age 30. Since then, the company
has expanded its operations beyond Guyana and Trinidad; it now has offices in Suriname and Jamaica,
exporting to countries across the Caribbean, including Haiti, Aruba, and the Bahamas.
As a a serial entrepreneur, Joe has started and acquired more than 35 companies over the last 25
years, including well-known brands like 51 Degrees, Bowen Boats, Island Beer Chill and Grill,
Samurai Restaurant, and Bottlestop, to name a few.
Joe has also served on the boards of many organisations, such as First Citizens Bank, Vemcott,
Junior Achievement, and The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce where he was vice president. He
continues to develop local and regional agriculture by sitting on various associated boards and
investing in agriculture-related businesses.
He bases his business approach on the precept that we learn from our mistakes and that in the end,
everything ultimately works out for the best.
"Everything always works out for the best...ALWAYS!"
Planting Seeds asked
To what do you most attribute your success?
Hard work, gut feelings and good people
Joseph Rahael - Managing Director, Amera
Joseph Rahael is a 1995 graduate of the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania. He
attained a double major degree in Finance and Real Estate and was the recipient of the 1995 Boyd T.
Bernard Real Estate Award in recognition of academic excellence.
Upon graduation Joseph worked with Trinity Construction Services, a shell building contractor in
South Florida in their operations and procurement department. In 1997, he joined the Amera
Corporation in their Coral Springs head office, as a Property Manager where he gained invaluable
experience in tenant relations, administrative, leasing and real estate development.
He returned to Trinidad in 1999 as the Managing Director of Broadway Properties Limited, a property
management company with close to 1,000,000 square feet of commercial and residential real estate
However, his passion about real estate development, led Joseph to rejoin the Amera Corporation in
2002, this time as Managing Director of its Caribbean based subsidiary, Amera Caribbean Development.
Completed and planned development projects to date include: Price Plaza Chaguanas, South Park,
Renaissance at Shorelands, Price Plaza North, Sangre Grande Town Center, Vistana Mayaro, and Briar
"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to
do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you
haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when
you find it."
- Steve Jobs
Planting Seeds asked
What was your first entrepreneurial undertaking?
My first business venture, took place at my family owned a fabric store in downtown Port of Spain
and I would work summers there as a cashier or sales person sometimes. I got bored with that pretty
quickly and went rummaging through the stockroom where I found some old wallpaper murals. I asked my
dad what that was and he said it was a "bad buy" he made and he was never able to sell them in our
store. I figured well why would anyone who was buying fabric consider buying wall murals at the same
time...so I asked him if I could take a few as samples and he agreed.
I went to the home improvement stores to peddle my wares and convinced Woolworth, which was a big
department store that sold home improvement items. I convinced the manager to take the murals and
only pay me for them if he sold them (which I later found out was called consignment). It turned out
that my dad didn't make a bad buy as he thought! The murals all sold within a month at Woolworth and
I had to order more for them. I was 15 and learnt the lesson of product placement!
Sheldon Stephen - Founder and Owner of the
Lollabee Group of Companies
Even before his many accomplishments in business, Sheldon proved himself as a person who excelled at
anything he put his mind to. With a passion for sport and the outdoors, he tried his hands at both
Cricket and Football where he surpassed many of his peers. He was elected to try out for the
Trinidad and Tobago Cricket team while also being a representative for the South Zone's Regional
Cricket Team. Simultaneously, his affections for excellence did not end with sport; as a teenager,
he engaged in many other youth development programs such as Junior Achievement and President's Award
Scheme, both of which were tailored for the young, incipient business mind.
Trinidad-born Sheldon Stephen is the owner and founder of the Lollabee Group of companies, which
boasts an impressive portfolio of businesses.
Sheldon's entrepreneurial journey began in 2003, when he founded Lollabee Cellular, now one of the
largest telecom dealers in the country. He then went on to establish Lollabee Entertainment in South
Trinidad, the company responsible for planning and executing large-scale events such as 'Glo' and
As is the case for many of the companies he would go on to create, entering the entertainment
industry allowed Sheldon to identify gaps in the local market; one business venture always presented
an opportunity for another. Lollabee Entertainment consequently gave rise to the founding of
Experience Effects Limited, presently one of the largest lighting and event companies in Trinidad,
with clients that include Fantasy Carnival, Machel Montano, and Carib Brewery.
Along with the companies mentioned above, the Lollabee Group of Companies also expanded to include
Lollabee Real Estate, dedicated to gated community development; Infraserve Supplies and Contracting
Services Limited, offering personalised project management services to the public and private
sectors; Farms R Us, focused on egg and poultry production; My Fit Menu Limited, an exceptionally
successful business delivering healthy, delicious food to homes and workplaces at affordable prices;
and Experience Distribution, a mass distribution company focusing on fast-moving consumer goods.
Lucrative advertising agency Sotal Advertising Limited was also incorporated into the Lollabee
Company Group, leading to the creation of sister company Sotal Signs and Printing Limited.
Sheldon is also the founder of the Lollabee Charity Foundation, which organises several feeding
programmes and supports many charitable causes and foundations.
Under Sheldon's leadership, the Lollabee Group of Companies has grown from one telecom franchise to
over 10 successful companies, providing employment to almost 300 persons locally. He is now
undertaking various business initiatives in the U.S., focusing on real estate in Texas and Florida,
and the provision of mobile healthcare for the elderly.
Sheldon's business approach centres on the belief that life is not just about ideas - it's about
making ideas happen.
"Perserverance moves mountains, one grain of sand at a time"
Planting Seeds asked
What was the reason behind saying yes to being on the panel for Planting Seeds?
As someone who started from nothing, was turned away from the banks, and from every organisation
that advertised giving financial assistance to young entrepreneurs, I have a broad understanding of
the challenges that entrepreneurs today are faced with. I was lucky enough to have a family member
willing to invest in me, when nobody else would- not everyone is so fortunate. Now that I am in a
position to help others, I want to do just that. I am looking for those entrepreneurs who have the
same drive and determination that I did, someone who wants success so badly they would never give up
until they have it.
Needless to say, I support Planting Seeds and their initiatives and it is a pleasure to be on the
panel of investors, mentoring and creating opportunities for those who have otherwise been turned
Howard Dottin qualified as a chartered accountant in the 1980s and pursued and completed his Master
of Business Administration specializing in marketing and finance in the 1990s. His tenure in
accounting and finance have spanned more than 35 years. He has worked in the Public Sector as well
as the Private Sector. After auditing stints in both The Inland Revenue Division of the Ministry of
Finance and the auditing firm of Pannell Fitzpatrick (now known as Ernst & Young), he moved into the
Banking sector and quickly rose to the ranks of a senior lender in the Corporate Banking Centre. He
was subsequently promoted to lead the finance department of that bank. He went on to expand his
C-level experience as the Group Chief Financial Officer of one of the largest insurance
conglomerates in the Caribbean region. In spite of the demands of his senior postings in the Private
Sector, his passion for lecturing resulted in him sharing his knowledge in the accounting and
finance fields (since 1988) to students of accounting and those at the post-graduate level pursuing
their MBAs and MSc in Finance. Today, he lectures in three (3) of the post-graduate programmes at
the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business and is the Programme Director for the Master of
Science for International Finance. In addition to his current involvement in academia, he now sits
on a couple of private sector boards for which he is the Chairman of one and the Audit Chairman of
"Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that
other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do."
Planting Seeds asked
What do you think is the biggest problem hindering economic development in the
I believe that Caribbean people generally and Trinbagonian in particular are extremely risk averse.
I am not sure what the reasons are for this but I truly believe that a major contributor may be the
increasing dependency on state support over the years. It clearly is a hypothesis that needs
testing. Nonetheless, while there is no doubt that the impact of the State's bureaucracy in
facilitating and conducting business may contribute to the direction and pace of economic
development, I believe that the lack of innovative and enterprising entrepreneurs is a major
hindrance. We also need to start believing in ourselves; we need to shake off that marginal mind-set
that causes us to believe that we because we are small we cannot be good enough.
About Planting Seeds
Produced in Trinidad and Tobago, Planting Seeds also has a television series that gives entrepreneurs
who register with us, the opportunity to pitch their idea to a panel of successful investors on
Every episode features several entrepreneurs, each delivering a concise two-minute-long presentation
their business plan to the panel, after which they are given feedback. One or more of the
investors.... Read more