Carol Lue the founder of CaribShare Biogas in Jamaica was kind enough to sit down and talk about her journey and experience starting a sustainable company, her plans for expansion, hopes of her Island paradise becoming more sustainable and her desire of leaving a better Jamaica for future generations.
CaribShare Biogas is a social enterprise that Carol Lue started when she wanted to return home from working in Canada. Lue wanted to create a company/product that would help her Island home of Jamaica. CaribShare turns organic waste into biogas and fertilizer; CaribShare is a social enterprise with a social mission of helping small scale farmers. Lue credits her upbringing in rural areas for her strong desire to help small farmers and Lue states that the help for farmers in Jamaica from the government is not reliable and there is a great need in this sector if Jamaica wants to stop relying so heavily on imports for most of their food. CaribShare sells organic fertilizer, which is the first organic fertilizer produced on the island, to farmers. This fertilizer is a byproduct from the anaerobic digestion of waste into biogas.
Here are some of the Q&A’s from the interview that explains exactly what CaribShare Biogas is:
Q: What is your Business?
A: CaribShare Biogas is a social enterprise that takes organic waste, such as food waste from hotels and animal waste from farmers and turns it into organic natural fertilizer and biogas. Our main aim was to demonstrate the use of biogas technology as a way of diverting waste away from landfills and using it to produce a product that the island can use. Jamaica currently does not have any laws on recycling and waste management therefore presenting another way to deal with waste that doesn’t fill up landfills is very important to me. I believe that Climate resilience is so important and one of the ways to help the climate especially on an island with limited space is to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill.
Q: What are your relevant aspirations?
A: My main aim is to try and reduce the dependency on fossil fuels by offering an alternative source of energy as well as reducing the amount of organic waste that ends up in landfills every year.
Q: What are your relevant challenges/pain points:
A: We have had a lot of challenges and setbacks but that is usual for a startup. Our main challenge has been with the technology behind the production of our biogas. It has taken a long time for our anaerobic digesters to start producing biogas and for us to find the perfect balance of organic waste to make the highest quality fertilizers. We are looking for other partners to improve our technology and hopefully increase our production of biogas.
Q: What motivated you to start a sustainable company?
A: I was working in Canada and wanted to return home to Jamaica. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so the entrepreneurial mindset is something I have always had. Starting my own business had always been a dream of mine. I decided I wanted to start a social enterprise that would help the community with a focus on helping farmers. I believed that starting CaribShare was a way I could achieve this dream. Jamaica is a tourist haven and all the resorts produce tremendous amounts of food waste. I believed that by diverting this waste and making something useful would be an ideal way to make Jamaica more sustainable. I saw a major opportunity here by producing cleaner energy for the island I would also be reducing the amount of waste in our landfills and any profits could be used to help small farmers.
Q: Who were your mentors in the field, and did you seek out any help?
A: When I started CaribShare, a family friend who is an engineer joined as a director and has acted a mentor. I knew what I wanted to do and what I wanted to create, which was a social enterprise that would help the community. Looking back, my inexperience and naive eagerness going into the project helped me succeed because if I had clearly understood all the risks involved in biogas production, I would not have started CaribShare and we would not have achieved all that we have accomplished so far. I was inspired by ZooShare in Canada which I used as proof and motivation that a project like this can be achieved. It’s interesting how we share both similar and different challenges with ZooShare.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to a budding entrepreneur, what would it be?
A: I am currently teaching an entrepreneurship class at the local all-girls high school in Trelawny and my main message to them is to pursue entrepreneurship as Plan A but only when the time is right for them, it should be something you are really passionate about. You have to be resilient and truly believe in yourself and what you are doing because in difficult times when support is low, you will need to find the means, energy, and conviction to keep going. 1I also believe having diverse and significant personal/life and professional experiences is important because through them you will better gain the right judgement and wisdom for building relationships and navigating crises and unpredictability, needed to successfully run and grow sustainable company.
CaribShare Biogas is doing an excellent job in helping the Caribbean Island of Jamaica become more sustainable. As they are a startup CaribShare still has a way to go till it reaches the capacity of what Carol Lue envisioned for her company, but she has hope for the future and believes if she can partner with cruise ships, she will have more capital and waste to expand the production of biogas. Lue is also hoping that the recycling and waste laws change in Jamaica meaning that hotels and resorts will have to be more conscious with their waste disposal and hopefully many will partner and compensate her to dispose of organic waste in an environmentally friendly way. Once biogas production is up Lue hopes to use the profit from CaribShare to help farmers and make Jamaica a little more self-sufficient in the production of food than it is today.
Thank you for reading this article and make sure to checkout the amazing work Carol Lue is doing with CaribShare at: https://www.facebook.com/caribsharebio/.