Leader of the Opposition Jamale Pringle has extended his congratulations, and those of the United Progressive Party (UPP), to the owners and workforce of Crispa Plantain Chips, whose product has “gone global.”
On Wednesday afternoon, August 9, at the conclusion of a ceremony celebrating this achievement, Pringle accepted the honour of helping to pack the last boxes of the locally manufactured chips into a shipping container bound for Sweden.
Not only is this particular export the first for the company, but it is the first Antiguan and Barbudan product to be exported to that European country.
Accordingly, kudos for meeting the sanitary and phytosanitary standards for this export were heaped on Jeremiah and Joanne Joseph – the entrepreneurs behind Crispa’s success – by Ambassador Clarence Pilgrim, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Trade and chairman of the National Trade Council.
The Josephs began their operation decades ago in the kitchen of their home, marketing the product, themselves, by persuading mostly small shops to stock it.
As the operation grew, they and their long-serving staff persevered, meeting the challenges of procuring and then mastering the equipment they needed to expand and improve.
Today, as MP Pringle acknowledged, Crispa is virtually a household name and “a brand that is recognized and preferred.”
A successful entrepreneur, himself, Pringle noted “the sacrifice and commitment it takes to start and maintain a business and to stick with it through all the challenges that come with any start-up,” and he concluded that the Josephs “have done exceedingly well.”
Describing it as “more than” just a local company, the Opposition Leader commended Crispa specifically for being a manufacturing company and proving “that the diversification of the economy … is achievable and desirable.”
Further, Pringle said, the product “shows the clear link between agriculture and manufacturing, and the links between local production, regional imports, and international exports. All packaged in a little bag.”
Giving the company the blessing of his Party, the Political Leader said, “We also hope that, as your product goes off to Sweden, your brand will serve as an ambassador for Antigua and Barbuda in the international market – and your success will see Crispa Plantain Chips rivalling some of the products coming out of the larger Caribbean islands.”
He added that the United Progressive Party “wishes to see you become the sunshine brand in Europe, lighting the way for other persons and businesses to follow beyond our 170 square miles.”
Such success, Pringle noted, would benefit everyone – through the company’s expanded employment opportunities for school leavers; the continuation of its corporate sponsorship of various activities; and the establishment of “a heritage business that your children will inherit and carry forward.”
On the matter of the company’s contribution to the national tax base, however, Minister of Finance Gaston Browne took the opportunity to promise that no taxes would be levied on the business for the next decade – in order to incentivize its expansion and its stability.
Other speakers at the event, held at the company’s Cassada Gardens headquarters, included representatives from the Bureau of Standards; the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority; the Ministry of Agriculture; an early retailer of the product; a visitor from the United Kingdom; and Crispa staff members, with Jeremiah “JJ” Joseph offering the vote of thanks.
Hosting the afternoon’s proceedings, which featured music from Panorama champions Hellsgate Steel Orchestra, was Dr. Jacqui Quinn. And among the friends and family gathered in support was UPP Caretaker for Rural East Sean Bird.
The historic event closed with the departure of the shipping container, as the employees and owners tearfully, but joyfully, waved Antigua and Barbuda flags and the guests applauded.
“How emotional. How inspiring!” declared one attendee, wiping her eyes.