Good News Stories – Sustainable Businesses
One of Enterprise St Helena’s (ESH) key goals encompasses supporting business development on St Helena, as well as enhancing entrepreneurial skills. As ESH marks its five years of operation, we take a look at businesses we have supported who have developed and sustained their operations over the past few years. This week we focus on the Agriculture and Marine-based tourism sectors by highlighting the business ventures of Into the Blue, owned by Craig Yon and Joshua Brother’s Covered Production owned by Martin and Adrian Joshua.
Into the Blue, a diving and tourism business, commenced in stages as owner Craig opted to acquire the appropriate certified training to offer dive excursions, and to teach diving and related underwater diving specialities.
Craig explained: “I realised that the airport was coming and I needed the relevant qualifications for group dives. I knew marine excursions would become popular as similar activities around the world, and I wanted to have the best knowledge base for St Helena, in addition to building up sufficient equipment to operate my business effectively as a tourism attraction for visitors.” Craig actively promotes his leisure activity and has gained international recognition through a visiting journalist from DIVE magazine.
This mind set, along with ESH’s assistance, allowed Craig the opportunity to train in South Africa to obtain his Dive Master Certification in 2013, an internationally recognised qualification.
The inspiration to teach diving came directly from Mr Graham Sim, Craig explained: “who has pushed many to pursue their passion for diving.” Craig approached ESH for funding to visit Coral Dives at Sodwana Bay (a five star career development centre) and earned an Open Water Scuba Instructor Certification along with specialities – underwater navigation, night diving, deep diving, search and recovery, wreck diving and boat diving. He has also acquired an Emergency First Response Instructor Certificate. Additionally, Craig has secured a Master Scuba Diver Rating from Padi (Professional Association of Diving Instructors).
Craig has received support from the local community who often attend weekly dives. He would like to see an increase in individuals to take up this recreational activity. “There are many out there who have the natural ability and I would suggest to pursue it” Craig advised, “being a diver/diving instructor is something that is sort worldwide, and is a skill in which you can take to many international resorts.” Craig would also like to extend his thanks to ESH for their support.
Launched in 2010, Joshua Brother’s Covered Production (JBCP) was developed to continuously supply the island with local salad related crops. Martin along with his brother Adrian began producing crops through soil methods, however these proved to be unsuccessful and they wished to explore the technology of hydroponics. In 2012 they applied the hydrocultural method with support from the Environmental Natural Resources Directorate (ENRD) and ESH’s predecessor, namely St Helena Development Agency.
Martin explained: “At the time we set up our first unit at Harpers, our aim was to constantly supply the island with tomatoes – making it our specialised crop and we felt this technique, the method of growing plants without soil using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent, would keep a constant flow for the island.”
Martin took the opportunity to attend an Agriculture exposure trip to Johannesburg in 2013 – to specifically get an insight into hydroponic crop production. The company has since received support from ENRD and ESH to set up the Guinea Grass unit with hydroponics providing sufficient evidence from produce at Harpers. JBCP also secured funding from ESH for a Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) (a new hydroponic technique introduced on island by the company – wherein a very shallow stream of water containing dissolved nutrients required for plant growth is re-circulated past the bare roots of plants in a watertight gully).
Martin is keen to generate interest in Agriculture especially to those in secondary school – currently he has a work experience student who joined the team.
For the future, Martin wishes to explore additional specialised crops like strawberries. “If there is any advice I would give, it is that business, especially a farming business, is risky; however you have to take that risk to accomplish your business goals whilst there is support available. There are opportunities out there for farming, especially with utilising innovative methods.” ended Martin.
ESH Press Release
1 August 2017