Emanuel Richardson: We should be exporting more and importing less
A multi-talented, veteran businessman has set his sights on improving the health of Dominicans by enhancing the quality of food they consume.
Emanuel Richardson - chef, baker, bodybuilder, and international Reggae artiste - has been an entrepreneur for over 30 years and has worked in Dominica, St. Maarten, and Holland. His newest venture is 767 Exotic Rasta Bread in Portsmouth.
"When I returned here, due to COVID, I noticed the health issue was very high, and people were complaining about the bread having so much flour etc," he said. "So, I introduced healthy bread, which I knew from Holland. I take 90% of the available foods and 10% flour to give people bread to help with diet and nutrition."
Richardson, fondly called Mano or Eman, also explained his decision to travel the road of entrepreneurship.
"I have been working for myself since I was 21," he said. "I took the initiative to work for myself because I realized I was giving too much to different companies and not getting back what I was supposed to. I am talented and have a lot of gifts."
Among Mano's many ventures were a gym and restaurant in Portsmouth from 2000, which were destroyed during Hurricane Maria. And while in Holland, he worked in music and sports.
767 Exotic Rasta Bread produces bread of all types: seasoned turmeric, coconut, spinach, pumpkin, cocoy, yam, mango; you name it, they make it. Opened for a year and a half, Eman says the most challenging part of this job is the cost of goods.
"Working with wholesalers that sell the flour, sugar, etc., the pricing is ridiculous," he said. "There is no price control, so that is very challenging for someone who wants to start a business in Dominica."
Conversely, reactions from customers – many of whom are surprised such bread exists - have reassured Mano he is on the right track with his product.
"Hearing the feedback from older folks and kids. And the health factor because I also do lunch, dinner, fruit bowls, cakes, johnny cakes (bakes) and more. A lady once told me, 'I had your lunch, and all my belly pain of the past two days went away; what you put in the food so?' I replied, 'Just fresh, healthy food and love,'" he chuckled.
With approximately 33 years of entrepreneurship under his belt, Mano is brimming with suggestions on how to make self-employment more attractive to Dominicans.
"Firstly, we have to look at proper education concerning entrepreneurship," he said. "We need wholesalers who would be considerate to people who are just beginning the journey and assist them to grow. Also, financial institutions should be more lenient to the new "entrepreneurs because starting is not easy."
Richardson strongly advocates for increasing export, reducing imports, and promoting a wide variety of locally created products and services.
"We need more export and marketing," he said. "People want to export, but where is the market? There was an expo in Roseau recently. I was amazed to see the number of products we have in Dominica but with no factories; we are losing out on a lot. We should be exporting 95% and importing 5% of goods because we have it all. It is a cycle where we need government and the public to support local."
In that vein, Eman advises potential entrepreneurs, "Don't contemplate. You have something your mind is set on - even though there are challenges - go for it because it will get easier along the way."
Richardson remains committed to using his talents and foresight to benefit the island, region and the world. "I want to let everyone know what Dominica has to offer," he said." Also, I want to expand and grow; my goal is to increase the number of people I hire and teach skills; that is how I know I have hit the jackpot. I look forward to opening a factory where all these manufactured goods can be shipped out of Dominica."