Interview with Anderson Wellington – POUI Ltd
Anderson Wellington, the founder of Protecting Our Universal Investment, is a pioneer of waste management and recycling in the Caribbean. Based in Trinidad and Tobago, the company specializes in the recycling of PET plastics, the most widely produced non-biodegradable material in the world.
Whilst studying and performing solid waste management during Wellington’s associate’s degree, the excess plastic waste at landfills awakened him to a sustainable business opportunity – “It’s at that point a lightbulb went on in my head, and the concept behind POUI was born”. Without other similar companies in the Caribbean, Wellington began his journey alone and stresses that the glamor of entrepreneurism is hard to come by – “This is not a bed of roses. Nothing about this is easy and what you put in is what you get back. It is not an 8-4 kind of job. You always have to be better than the next person”.
Wellington understands that environmental issues are usually the last to be budgeted and the first to be downsized or removed due to budget constraints. Funding has been a huge obstacle for POUI, especially given the lack of grants available for Small and Medium Entities (SMEs). This is exacerbated by the reactive nature of governments when it comes to environmental issues – “Until it is a problem large enough to be given attention, or you start hearing an outcry from citizens and visiting tourist, it doesn’t get attention or funding”. POUI is trying to change this trend, encouraging government and natives of the islands to adopt a more proactive stance to recycling. Some islands simply cannot afford the services that POUI offer. It is this that motivates Wellington the most to obtain funding, and use it to help islands that need programs like his so badly.
POUI is approaching the market differently from others in the industry. They emphasize building relationships with customers and natives of the island and appreciate the symbiotic relationships that are so key to success. Wellington admits that this is one of the most important facets of his business – “It is often difficult operating as an “outsider” in some of these countries, as they prefer to do business with a local. Where necessary I try to partner and remain in the background”. Wellington also concedes that despite POUI’s success, help and advice in terms of securing grants and analyzing strategy would be invaluable. Unfortunately, as with many entrepreneurs, “rules, politics and not knowing the people in the positions that can assist” present considerable obstacles to accessing such consultancy, and can manifest into loneliness for the entrepreneur.
Wellington has incredible vision for his business and the impact that it could have on the Caribbean, however is worried that bureaucratic impediments mentioned above may prevent the business from achieving its goals – “if I had my way the Caribbean will be in a good place based on what we can offer, however with some of the leaders and the budget constraints I don’t know what to expect. I am trying to show my 4-year-old daughter coral reefs now because the reality is in 20 years we may have to travel to another part of the world to view them at the rate they are disappearing”.
This is a solemn note to end on, and yet another reminder of how vital sustainable entrepreneurs are to the future of the world.
Discover more about POUI Ltd at their website: http://www.poui-tt.com
Support POUI in their mission by buying their recycled clothing, hats and accessories here: https://stores.inksoft.com/poui