Gewana Reid’s goal as a teenager was to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration that would launch her career.
Although the 25-year-old inner-city entrepreneur passed Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) subjects, which qualified her to begin the programme at the University of Technology some years ago, that dream was short-lived.
“I started university, but I had to drop out. My mother did not have the money during the first year in 2017. When I started university, it was actually my savings from ‘throwing partner’ that helped me to start university, but I couldn’t maintain it,” Ms. Reid tells JIS News.
In addition to this, she became a mother to two children, now aged four and two years. Coupled with this, the father of her children was incarcerated, which forced her to think creatively as to how she could care for herself and her children.
Ms. Reid says she eventually decided to go into the business of selling rabbits.
“It all started in 2019 when the father of my children was incarcerated and I was left to be the sole breadwinner for myself and two children, so I thought about selling rabbits. I did some research. Back in high school, I had a pair of rabbits and I know that they breed easily, so what I did was buy a pair. At that time, I did not have anywhere to put them, but I knew that I was going to buy the pair,” she shares.
Ms. Reid tells JIS News that getting her first pair of rabbits for business was not easy, adding that she “walked out” of Coronation Market in downtown Kingston, to find a man who sold rabbits and made arrangements to purchase the rabbits, which she could not pay in full at the time.
“For the size that I got, the money wasn’t enough, because his were bigger rabbits. They were two months already, so I got away with the price,” she says.
Ms. Reid adds that the seller bargained with her to put an additional $1,000 on what she already paid, before collecting her pair.
“The following week, I gave the money to him, and when I went home, I put them [the rabbits] under a bucket, because I had nowhere to put them,” she notes.
Ms. Reid points out that her mother had a chicken coop, which she planned to take over to rear her rabbits.
“She had about 30 chickens and I said to myself, I am waiting for her to kill the chickens to put the rabbits in. Once she killed the chickens on the weekend, I put the rabbits in shortly after and she screamed out ‘No! No! No! You can’t take my coop’, but I knew she would not put the rabbits out, so I let them stay there until she eventually gave me the pen, and that is how it started,” she says.
Following this, Ms. Reid tells JIS News that she started conducting research about rabbits and started buying different breeds, based on customers’ needs.
Her market includes children who want rabbits as pets and others for a larger market that she cannot fully supply.
In December 2020, Ms. Reid was one of eight entrepreneurs in Denham Town, Kingston, who received a grant, equipment and a scale from the Enterprise Development Project implemented by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) under the Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP), Phase 2.
She gives thanks especially for a scale and bowls for feeding, which the JSIF donated, because it has improved the standard of raising her rabbits.
“I was using bottles [to feed them]. I would cut the oil jug or the syrup jug and use it for the water and the rabbit would nibble on these… so they gave me some ceramic bowls for feeding,” Ms. Reid says.
“I have customers now with the assistance from JSIF. I was introduced to different persons and I got highlighted, so people reached out to me. I try to keep the customer base and interact with them,” she adds.
Ms. Reid intends to go into the market that provides rabbit meat to be cooked and sold, but after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
“I intend to, but currently there is no market for it, because the persons that would really buy it are the hotels… but just because of the pandemic, I don’t get into any,” she says.
Ms. Reid, who has a certificate in paralegal studies, hopes she will be able to return to university one day and complete her degree.
“One day, I will return, even if it is when my children are going. I will go with them,” she tells JIS News.