– Challenges fellow Guyanese to embrace development, take positive risks as country’s economy rapidly expands
WITH Guyana being one of the leading countries in the world that foreign investors are gravitating towards, it gives a sense of pride when the country’s natives can invest and capitalise on the opportunities that are being presented.
One such individual is Guyana’s West Indies right-hand batsman and off-spinner Steven Jacobs. This renowned cricketer might have retired, but he continues to score in the field of business. Staying true to his roots in Pike Street, Kitty, Georgetown, Jacobs has established one of Guyana’s most prominent jewellery stores.
In an interview with the Sunday Chronicle, Jacobs explained that his father was a jeweller in the 1990s and had a workshop at Jacobs Jewellery location.
He remembered coming home from playing cricket and going into the workshop with his father to see how the jewellery-making process was being done. Jacob said that while he was playing cricket, the word got around that he was involved in making jewellery, and a number of people, including other cricketers became interested, so he started to make pieces for interested people.
Even though the former cricketer studied sports management at the University of the West Indies, he related that he was more “focused” on business.
While playing cricket, Jacobs said he tried to invest in a couple of small businesses.
He said, “I bought a car and started up a taxi service, and I tried to organise some apartments and rent them out so that I could have had multiple incomes.”
According to Jacobs, he wanted to set up a business he was comfortable with and would enjoy after retirement. So, he went back to what he grew up seeing and what made sense for him to invest in: jewellery.
Jacobs said, “I saw that investing in a jewellery business was something that I could do. I also thought of my popularity and how it would help me excel. So, I decided to get into it.”
Jacobs went ahead and opened “Jacobs Jewellery & Pawn Shop,” and the business took off. The former cricketer revealed that he had to make the tough decision in 2018/2019 of “putting down” his cricket bat due to the quick growth of the business. According to him, it required much of his time and presence to ensure that it was run in the manner and standard that he had envisioned.
Looking at the progressive rate at which Guyana is moving, Jacobs shared that he is in talks with the University of Guyana to launch a jewellery school that will have professionals from India train Guyanese so that they will be able to produce the best pieces for the world. The idea, Jacobs said, is for all the sectors in Guyana to “bloom.” It makes perfect sense since Guyana is known for having some of the best gold in the world.
One of the things that the Guyana Chronicle learned about Steven Jacobs is that he doesn’t limit himself or put himself in a box when it comes to business. Like many of his teammates, Jacobs credited the gentleman’s game for instilling in him and his fellow Guyanese cricketers the discipline, positive attitude, and determined mindset they are now implementing in the business chapters of their lives.
Steven Jacobs is currently in construction with one of his Guyanese teammates, friends, and business partners, Leon Johnson.
Jacobs related, “I have built a few apartments; I built my home. I actually love seeing the work being done from the foundation up; seeing the end result, as well as being involved in the process of it all.”
He continued: “That sparked my love for construction, and in partnership with Leon Johnson, who just announced his retirement, was also looking to do something on his way out. We fused our ideas together and bid for a government contract and were successful. We are a young company, but we are pushing to meet the demands of the construction market that is booming in Guyana.”
Jacobs and Johnson, together with their company “First Change Builders” take pride in giving back to the Guyanese people by creating employment for their fellow countrymen. At the moment, they have over 200 people employed in their sector.
“I am fortunate enough to see firsthand what President Dr. Irfaan Ali and his government are doing for the people of Guyana and what his agenda is for the country, which is amazing. A lot of infrastructural work is laid out right now in different areas across Guyana, and I would like my fellow Guyanese people to know that in the next five years Guyana will look very different because of the foundation that the president is laying right now,” the former cricketer related.
He is also pleading with all Guyanese, especially the young, to take up the opportunities in front of them and not sit and wait. He hopes that they can all open their eyes and make full use of what they see before them.
He also reminded Guyanese of how far “we” have come to where “we” are now since independence.
“I remembered I had to sit on the bench at an airport in the Caribbean because I was a Guyanese and wait on someone to come and identify/receive me even though I was a cricketer, but now it is different because Guyana is the place that everyone wants to come to. So, look at where we were and where we are heading, and we must feel a sense of pride, and regardless of what race we are, we are one people, and I support President Ali’s ‘One Guyana’ initiative because it is who we are. If you cut us all, we will bleed the same blood colour. At the end of the day, Guyanese have to benefit from all of this. I am very proud to be a Guyanese, and for the sake of a future generation, we need to work together; the time is now. And I can say that President Ali has Guyana and the people’s best interests at heart, and I am proud to say that he is a role model for me because of his work ethic and his personality,” he said.
When it comes to Jacob’s personal life, he said, “What I try to do is be at home as much as possible on the weekends, and during the week. I have a starting point and a breaking point where I put down the tools and try to make sure I get home for my wife and my kids and put them to bed.”
Family, he noted, is the foundation of his livelihood; “it is very important, and we have to make sure that the home is in order in terms of love and affection. The material things are there, but family life and guiding your children are very important.”
Jacobs added: “My son is at a tender age now, and he will be looking towards me and what I do, and I try to live the right way so that I can be the best role model for him.”
“I would like to leave by saying to my fellow Guyanese: do not doubt yourself, challenge yourself, and position yourself to grow so that when you start a business, no matter how small, be sure about what you want and go for it. Don’t be afraid to take risks; it is said that the bigger the risk, the greater the reward, but make sure it’s a sensible risk,” said Jacobs.