– Unveils Uniquely Guyanese Kiosk at Airport’s Departure Lounge to Showcase Local Products and Technology
The Institute of Applied Science and Technology (IAST) has added yet another “first” to its impressive and growing list of innovative approaches to the commercialisation of Guyanese products and processes.
On February 22, 2020, just in time for the Republic’s 50th Anniversary, the enduring institution launched a Kiosk in the Departure Lounge of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport to showcase its services, products and presence. The Kiosk itself manages to raise the bar for retail outlets at the Airport way above the current baseline. Quite often, the bar in local retail landscape is raised by imported companies and institutions.
The design of the Kiosk itself is a statement on Guyanese craftsmanship and origins. The Kiosk is beautifully crafted by C&S Furniture Establishment, a local wood working shop at Tuschen, West Coast Demerara, from 13 types of Guyana woods.
The base of the Kiosk is designed to look like a stylised donkey cart of old, complete with wooden wheels reminiscent of yesteryear and our origins. Resting as it does, on foundations of history and our sustaining rainforests, the design elevates into a display, which is an artful blend of modern and indigenous, with powerful motifs of the potent cocktail that can be forged from valuing our culture and natural resources, and marrying modern science to this patrimony, to create enduring and world-class products.
A Golden Arrowhead at the helm of the display majestically proclaims the message that Guyana and Guyanese are on the move.
The idea to have a flagship presence at the CJIA, according to Professor Suresh Narine, Director of the IAST, came from respected media personality and publicist, Mr. Vic Insanally. Narine said at the urging of Mr. Insanally, he approached the Chairman of the Board of the CJIA, Mr. Stephen Fraser and its CEO, Mr. Ramesh Ghir, with the idea. The CJIA administration was immediately accommodating and asked for a schematic of the Kiosk.
Narine credits the institute’s Marketer, Ms. Raveena Mangal, for the drawings and realisation of the Kiosk design. Kaieteur News understands that the approach and design vision were put together by Narine, to evoke Guyanese origins, accomplishments and hopes for the future.
Narine’s vision evolved into an actual design thanks to hardworking builders who ensured that the final product was both true to the message articulated by the Director whilst at the same time being functional and aesthetic. The result, as multiple visitors are already commenting on social media, is astounding. It should be noted that Mangal, being a young person , brought her own social reality to the design; such as a clever conversion of the area that would normally accommodate the harnessing of a donkey in the donkey carts of old into a “Selfie-Seat” with a backdrop of the Institute’s products and Guyana’s very own Kaieteur Falls.
The unique design of the Kiosk is matched in equal impact by the well-packaged products on sale. As reported by this newspaper before, the Institute of Applied Science and Technology has been leading a renaissance of locally made, world-class products utilising Guyanese raw materials and know how.
The current products on sale are Rupununi Essence Luxury Facial Washes, Pakaraima Flavours Sundried Tomato Ketchup and Salad Dressings and Morning Glory Breakfast Cereals. The Institute will be adding shortly to this lineup its newest heart-healthy drink – SAK, made from indigenously grown purple potatoes. All of the products are packaged and branded competitively and hold their own against any product from major imported brands.
The Rupununi Essence line of luxury facial cleansers has been in the market for approximately four years and has acquired a loyal and growing following of local and international users. Users have taken to social media to proclaim the attributes of the product – an excellent and refreshing emollient with miraculous impacts on skin health. More importantly, though, is that the business model of Rupununi Essence Inc. allows all profits to be paid in dividends to the owners of the company: the North Rupununi District Development Board, the Makushi Research Unit, and the Medicine from Trees women’s unit. It is a successful example of what Narine calls a Green Social Enterprise – an approach rooted in indigenous communities, utilising Indigenous knowledge and benefitting the communities from whence that knowledge sprang, including in this case, the preservation of the rainforest in order to sustain the production of the main ingredient – the natural pods of the Crabwood Tree, which grows wild in the Guyana Rainforest.
The Pakaraima Flavours initiative, another of the institute’s success stories focusing on indigenous development, has its roots deep in the innermost recesses of the Pakaraima Mountain range. There, the Indigenous Patamona People have formed a cooperative with the institute’s help to grow organic tomatoes.
These are then processed in a Good Manufacturing Practices, modern processing and solar drying facility, built and operated by the IAST, in Paramakatoi. The sundried tomatoes are then used to make Pakaraima Flavours sundried tomato ketchup and salad dressings in a state-of-the-art plant operated by the IAST. Beginning in 2017, Patamona tomato farmers grew approximately 7,000; 19,000 and 33,000 pounds of fresh tomatoes in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
The enterprise, whilst challenged to rapidly increase its market share to keep up with exponentially rising production, has been making inroads into the local fast food and restaurant industry, with Church’s Chicken, Jade Wok, Spicy Dish, Tastee Dish and King Fish being among the institute’s business to business clients. In addition, the products are carried in the retail section of all the major supermarket chains in Guyana and many of the local grocery stores in both coastal and hinterland areas. Narine said, “It’s a good but challenging problem to have, where the production end of a vertically integrated Green Social Enterprise pushes the sales and marketing end to rapidly increase market share.”
The Morning Glory Breakfast Cereals is one of those success stories, which seems to confidently stride from strength to strength without a pause. Yet, this project which has the distinction of being one which has been supported by both sides of the political divide in Guyana, took on a very steep challenge: to take market share in a limited segment dominated by large, venerated and successful brands. It is a testament to the resilient and innovative staff at the IAST who designed, built and now operate the facility in Anna Regina, which produces the product that now is into their third year of operation, the facility continues to increase its sales and deliver a quality product.
In 2017, Morning Glory Inc. sales were $12.7 million, in 2018 sales were $45.6 million and in 2019 sales grew to $58.3 million. The company is also soon to launch fresh packaging and a new children-friendly rice cereal called Jaggy the Jaguar. Importantly, the product is produced from 99.9% Guyanese raw materials and 100% Guyanese labour.
It seems clear that Guyana can continue to expect the IAST to play a key role in its developmental trajectory.
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