Focus on endurance, commitment - EntornoInteligente / News day / This year, she also took part and placed third in the Scotiabank Vision Achiever Programme, one of the initiatives of the bank to facilitate and develop the growth of small and micro enterprises (SMEs) in TT. The programme, designed to build business capacity, imparts knowledge and business acumen to participating SME owners on the keys to running a successful and profitable business.

T’Shura placed third out of 14 specially selected participants, for one of the top three Vision Achiever Awards. She says the award is an indication of the “much needed intervention of training and development” she was unable to acquire in her earliest entrepreneurial years.

She shares the process for applying included submission of a short video, outlining her entrepreneurial journey as well as touching on her passions, goals, and professional challenges.

“I connected these areas with viable reasons as to why the Vision Achiever Programme would be a great compliment to my future ambitions,” Maraj elaborates on her video submission.

She says the biggest gain for her was making it to the final 14 contestants. “My main objective was to experience the training provided by the programme through Indira Couch from ActionCoach TT,” T’Shura says of the exposure and opportunity for business training the final 14 were privy to. Her thirdplace winnings, as well as her title of Social Media Champion include a cash prize but she says the relationships built over the course of the training and the experience of the programme are her best takeaways. “I am looking forward to building future business with a more focused, organised approach By James Dupraj to growth and development.” Her entrepreneurial journey began in 2008 after she lost employment. It was then that she became aware of a calling inside her: a deep-seated passion to create something greater than herself, something with generational impact of which she could take ownership. “With very limited resources and a big vision, in 2008 I opened my first company, Chemical Buddies. In 2012, that little firm grew to the place of attracting a major Dutchbased multinational in the chemical supply industry, called Chemelco International,” she says of the venture that would eventually gain her entry into Scotiabank’s Vision Achiever Programme. After many entry barrier challenges, as she puts it, in 2013 a joint venture was opened allowing the Dutch-based Chemelco to establish its third global office, Chemelco East Caribbean Limited, with Maraj acting as the company’s director. The Chemelco Group, in operation since 1965, provides “innovative, healthy, and environmentally sustainable raw ingredients to the food and animal nutrition, home and personal care, as well as cosmetics, industries” with offices in China, South Africa, the Netherlands, and here, in Trinidad.

Through her work with Chemical Buddies and Chemelco International, T’Shura has supplied some of our country’s leading manufacturers with quality chemical manufacturing ingredients, including SM Jaleel, Blue Waters, Bermudez, and PCS Nitrogen.

“To me, it was rewarding that Scotia recognised the value of this business model, since any local businessperson can testify about the challenges and constraints involved with trade and commerce involving locals partnering with global multinational firms,” she explains. “It doesn’t happen every day.” And while it is her directorship and partnership with the multinational that gained her entry into the Vision Achiever Programme, as Maraj highlights, the life of an entrepreneur is dynamic, sometimes haphazard, and filled with innovation daily.

“The rigours of establishing a successful business cost me the delayed gratification of pursuing some of the other desires of my heart,” she says of the sacrifices she made regarding her own personal interests and career goals. She discloses last year she turned 40 and celebrated 15 years in the chemical supply industry. “It was the opportune time for me to make a decision to pursue some other areas of my dreams and goals,” she explains, adding that she felt confident in her decision to take a new career path given the fact that Chemelco East Caribbean had blossomed into a successfully functioning entity, which no longer needed her creative energies. Instead, it had become a comfort zone – a rut of sorts – in which the business flourished but her true desires were stifled.

“I realised it was time for me to give back and invest in the lives of young, aspiring entrepreneurs like myself when I was younger,” says T’Shura of the change her career was about to take.

Now, she has established a new firm, focusing on consultative business development, entrepreneurial coaching, lecturing, and multinational partnerships all designed to serve our citizenry and economy in mutually beneficial ways.

While still in its early stages, T’Shura hopes that her upcoming ventures will further expand her experiences and impact as an entrepreneur.

With an academic background that includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering and a Master’s in Entrepreneurship, she advises others to educate themselves in their field of business as best they can. However, she notes that she does not believe formal academic training is the only factor in birthing a successful entrepreneur – but she does think it helps. “Acquiring the knowledge and skills that accompany academic training in your field will make certain aspects of the journey easier, while adding to your own sense of personal achievement,” she expresses. She hopes to pursue her doctorate in Entrepreneurship for even greater effectiveness in the near future and build on her already hefty academic credentials.

As for the learning curve of being an entrepreneur, hers has been a steep one but the rewards run much deeper.

“My learning started with me building from rock bottom; I learned how to handle importation, taxation, customer management, packing my warehouse, driving my own forklift, negotiating with investors and financing,” she gives examples of the tasks she had to take on. “To this day, if need be, I can still jump on my forklift and load a truck at midnight just to ensure a manufacturer’s production line stays up and running,” she shares proudly. Her advice to other entrepreneurs is in business, the race is not focused on swiftness but endurance: “Endurance and commitment will tell a story, long after you’re gone.” She also advises would-be entrepreneurs to seek help and guidance from experienced business owners or advisors they trust. In retrospect, she wishes she had a business mentor in her early entrepreneurial days, or had invested in entrepreneurial coaching for a much more organised start.

“Coming from limited resources and assets, the startup’s growth and expansion phases always led me into the most creative recesses of my mind because, come what may, I had to solve it,” she says of the ways her challenges motivated her to be proactive. Another recent challenge for her is the cultural differences of international trade. She says, “This is where the need to understand people should be greater than your need to be understood. I have practiced this principle and found it quite a big help.” In her professional future, T’Shura sees herself as an entrepreneurial coach, impacting the lives of young business people throughout the Caribbean, imparting the knowledge she has accrued over her years of experience.

“A successful entrepreneur should be observant, diligent, and focused on completion,” she says of the qualities she has learned lead to success. “For me, honesty, humility, and respect have contributed almost always to my greatest success stories in business.”

Focus on endurance, commitment

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