Blind UWI graduate turns to entrepreneurship - Starts business because he couldn’t find a job
After graduating from the University of the West Indies (UWI) in 2013 with a degree in management studies and entrepreneurship, Robert Williams spent two years trying to get a job.
"In the beginning, when I was trying to get a job, what I found was that all of the places that had vacancies, the jobs were aligned with things where you had to be able see. So, sometimes I'd see job openings, and my degree would qualify me for the job, but you had to have a driver's licence or a car. And some of the jobs, even if they wanted to take persons with disabilities, most of them would specify that they'd want persons with mobile disabilities, and who could see," he said.
The 30-year-old said he has been blind since childhood. He started his education at the Salvation Army School for the Blind, before moving on to Jamaica College and then matriculating to the UWI.
He told THE STAR that after being rejected for numerous jobs, he decided to start his own business.
"I've always been the problem solver - a determined person - so when I realised that was the situation, I just started thinking. I did my degree in entrepreneurship, so I decided I wanted to try and find a niche market," he said.
"I went downtown and bought some candies, and started selling them and reinvesting the money until I realised that there's a market for Jamaican treats. My aunt bakes them. I buy them from her, and I started selling them."
Williams, who lives in Portmore, St Catherine, said that he travels on the bus into Kingston, where he sells his products to business places and at tertiary institutions.
Williams said that he also gets orders from overseas.
"I sell gizzadas, peanut cakes, puddings, bananas chips, other snacks. From time to time, these customers will introduce me to other customers. So, if they know of persons going overseas and want some peanut cakes and stuff, they'd give them my number and they'd call and place their order," he said.
Williams sells his products for between $100 and $250. So far, he said that the business has been profitable, and it is his main source of income.
"I use the income to pay my rent, light, water and food bill, and Internet," he said.
And after four years in business, Williams said that wants to expand.
"I'm always open for ideas and opportunities and so forth, so it can only get better. As long as I'm alive, I'll keep exploring new ideas, new business ventures. And I'll just get better and better because the foundation was in my love for business and completing a degree in entrepreneurship," he said.