Coconut vending a very lucrative profession, says Buddy
It does not take a wealth of education or the most prestigious of business ideas to elevate a typical man out of the stranglehold of poverty.
In fact, all that is required is a desire to work passionately and honestly, regardless of the challenges one may be confronted with.
And this notion is especially true for 61-year-old Nandaram Sawh, well known as Buddy, of Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara.
Buddy has, for more than 20 years, been managing a thriving water coconut business at the northern side of the Bourda Market, at the corner of Orange Walk and North Road.
The business, Buddy related during an interview with this newspaper, has been in his family since around 1964.
He explained that his father, back in the days, had started the business in an attempt to provide for his family.
According to Buddy, he was the eldest of three brothers, and was attending secondary school when his father’s business was kicked into action in their home village of Clonbrook, East Coast Demerara.
Buddy guardedly reflected, though, on a period when his father was forced to discontinue his business in Clonbrook.
He recounted that there was a spell of depression in the land, thus leaving his father no choice but to relocate to Lusignan, another East Coast Demerara village.
Buddy reflected that it was in 1969 that he had completed school and was desperately trying to secure a career.
His efforts were, however, to no avail, causing him to delve into his father’s business along with his two younger brothers, who by this time were well versed in the coconut vending profession.
The sales acquired at that time were more than enough to take care of the family, and alluring enough for Sawh to attract a wife in the year 1970.
But, having graduated with a secondary education, Buddy was of the belief that he could be more than just a coconut vendor.
And so, in the year 1971, he applied for a post at the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), where he was accepted as a Security Officer.
Buddy said that he remained at the sugar company until 1983, when he resigned and returned to his inevitable calling of being a coconut vendor.
The business, at this time, was already strategically located at the Bourda Market area.
Along with his two brothers, a brother-in-law and his father, there was no stopping the success of the business, Sawh said.
He disclosed that they were able to sustain the demand for water coconut by purchasing from farmers on the East Coast of Demerara and those from the North West District, a relationship which continues even today.
According to Sawh, the business has been so lucrative that it has literally pulled his family out of a poverty-stricken lifestyle.
Following the death of his father, one of his brothers and his brother-in-law, and the migration of his other brother, Sawh found himself as the sole manager of the business.
He said that he is committed to carrying on the business, since it was his father’s wish that the business be never sold.
And so Sawh’s two sons, Anil and Anand, who are both married with their own families, have since joined the business in hope that someday they, too, will take over the reins.
The well known ‘cool down spot,’ according to Sawh, although challenged by serious competition, will forever keep thriving, given that he has been able to secure a regular clientele base over the years.
Sawh also supplies gallons of coconut water to a number of top hotels in the country, and also to private and public organisations for various occasions. He recounted that last Old Year’s Night he was contracted to supply over 130 gallons of the refreshing liquid for a celebration party.
And, according to him, every effort is made to ensure that all customers are pleased with their purchase of coconut, thus the price may vary from person to person. This, Sawh noted, is important to his business, since he cannot forget the poverty-stricken background from whence he came.
Thus, as far as possible, he tries to meet the pockets of the less fortunate.
Customers are able to purchase water nuts for as little as $60, and even bottles of water valued at various prices.