SEEING OPPORTUNITIES IN CHALLENGES –Charity women stallholders turn to milk to stay in business
Mignon Alphonso pours the shake into a bottle. The preparation was done at the WDs Mall at Charity, Essequibo Coast
Mignon Alphonso pours the shake into a bottle. The preparation was done at the WDs Mall at Charity, Essequibo Coast

THE slowdown in business on the Essequibo Coast has left many fuming and fretting, but 10 women who formed themselves into a group called “WDs Dairies” have seen a great opportunity amidst the challenge.The women, are stallholders, have realised that quitting business would not be their best option; and after much brainstorming, have decided that involvement in milk might be the trick to keep them in business.

Eva Adams is happy to complete her work, so that she can return to her stall in the mall
Eva Adams is happy to complete her work, so that she can return to her stall in the mall

Most of the women were previously involved in vending clothes, which has, in the past year, seen a considerable drop in sales at Charity. They have since decided that while the average consumer might not be able to purchase the shirt or dress that becomes fashion, that consumer has to eat every day, and needs nutritious foods to nurture the body.

Thus the women of WDs Diaries came up with the idea to purchase 10 gallons of milk every week and use their expertise to produce milk shakes from it.

The shakes come in four flavours: Strawberry, Peanut Punch, Whole Milk and Chocolate; and with a smooth, delicious taste, consumers regularly drain the bottles of their dregs in an effort to get every drop.

In fact, the women can rightly claim credit for demonstrating that some good can be retrieved from a bad situation. The milk shakes, which are well labelled, are bottled in discarded Gensing and Carib beer bottles after those had been thoroughly sterilised.

“Instead of buying a Gensing or Carib beer, which is an investment that would get you drunk and expose you to all sorts of danger, buy a milk shake. It will nourish your body; and at only $160 per bottle, it is far cheaper and better than any beer on the market,” one of the women, who asked that her name not be mentioned, told the Guyana Chronicle.

From the 10 gallons of milk, the women produce 150 bottles of shakes, utilising homemade techniques to pasteurise the milk, with the aid of a quality control officer. The whole process from pasteurisation of the milk to bottling and labelling takes about two hours, Eva Adams, another member of the group, said.

The women’s group started the business about four weeks ago, and have since pooled their resources and purchased a small pasteurisation plant. Imported, the plant is expected to arrive in Guyana before Friday of this week; and following its setup, the women will increase production.

The plant has the capacity to pasteurise six gallons of milk per hour, and the group intends to expand production to 30 gallons of milk per week.

“Already, we have a ready market. The milk is sold in the WDs Mall and shops at Charity, and the response from consumers has been excellent. We will soon target the schools on the Essequibo Coast, but right now there is a great demand to produce more; but because we are doing the pasteurisation manually and operating a turn system with members of the group, our capacity to meet the demand out there is limited. But with the plant at our disposal, we will definitely increase production,” said Mignon Alphonso, who owns a boutique in the WDs Mall at Charity, Essequibo Coast.

Adams said that aside from the milk shakes, the group is looking to produce yogurts, cheese, ice-cream and other milk products, as there is a market for these products at Charity and the Essequibo Coast.

She said that if the business grows, the group would most likely establish a company and purchase a bigger pasteurisation plant to meet market demands.

For now, the women are taking things in small strides, and are consolidating their gains in order to be in a position to build and expand their business.

“Our hope is that this business will grow from strength to strength, and we will be able to expand to greater things; have more members; and be able to empower women through the creation of jobs. The Essequibo Coast is our target for now, but we also have our sight set outside the region. For the time being, we are taking it one step at a time,” said Adams, who also operates an ice-cream shop at the WDs Mall.



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