I bumped into Keshawn Cupid on a flight to St. Vincent from Miami. He was in the company of one of his business partners Peter Guidry Jr. and he was a man on a mission. The Company SVG Export and Trading Inc. is their brainchild and Keshawn‘s vision is to develop a platform where every farmer has access to markets where they will be able to sell their produce. He wants farmers to see and approach farming as a true PROFESSION.
Born of Vincentian parents Pastor Martin Cupid and Veolant Cupid, the church, the home and the land all played important roles in his upbringing. The third of four children, Keshawn credits his parents with helping him to understand how fundamental growing what you eat is to any community. While a student of Kingstown Preparatory School and then the St. Vincent Grammar School his chores saw him in the banana field in Lowmans Windward.
After High School Keshawn migrated to the US where he joined the U.S. Navy and continued to pursue his education. Upon early retirement he started a consulting company where he helps other companies to increase their efficiency and productivity using a process called “Lean Six Sigma.”
Today, Keshawn who is married, with three kids of his own, splits his time between St. Vincent and California. His desire to help farmers in St. Vincent, and to grow the business of farming to benefit all of his customers in the US, has seen his SVG Export and Trading Company shipping container loads of breadfruit and dasheen to the US using a technique that guarantees no spoilage.
It has been a work in progress and Keshawn, who lives by the mantra, “let your handshake be as good as a binding contract,” ensures that farmers who provide their produce, get paid on time. They have confidence in the company and appreciate just how hands on Keshawn and his business partners have been. The company has now diversified to include Sea Moss to their export list. Their Vincentian branded Sea Moss Gel is amazing!
To hear Keshawn tell it, brain drain takes a lot of our human resource away from the country. He sees inspiring farmers in St. Vincent as one way of combating the exodus.
“We are capable of competing from a quality standpoint. We are looking to supply niche markets with quality products to get the true taste of the Caribbean.” Something tells me that this foray into farming is just the start of what will be an amazing journey for Keshawn, his business partners, and his company.