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‘Finally coming out of rent house’ - Manchester small farmer making big moves

At the age when many people are looking to slow down, 60-year-old small farmer Icilda Brown has no immediate plans to take her foot off the gas as she presses towards her dream of home ownership and expanding her business.

It’s been a long and challenging road for the Manchester native who is now building a house in Chantilly District, the community where she has been a resident for more than 27 years.

“I am finally coming out of rent house. My children are all big, so I can focus on achieving some of my own goals now. When they were growing up, I didn’t always have help from their fathers, so it was rough. But I did what I had to do, and I mek it work,” declared Brown.

Using her business savvy and sometimes a little luck, the mother of five shared how she managed to slowly move her small business of growing chickens into a viable farm, where she also now rears pigs.

“You know how it is when is you one and yu have to mek sure everything is OK for everybody – send the kids to school and tek care ah yuself. Sometimes it was very hard to balance. But about 12 years ago, a friend of mine told me about Access Financial, and I went there and borrowed $80,000. The loan they gave me help me to sort out the business, and eventually I start to grow the business,” Brown said.

She continued: “Sometimes I run out of feed and I just call my loans officer and him seh, ‘Come Miss Brown’. Between Access and my partner draw, that is how I balance things. Now I’m looking to expand this year.”

With a couple of restaurants as regular customers for chicken and pork as well as yellow yam, which she also plants, these days Brown hires as many as three workers when it’s time to harvest crops and slaughter animals to supply her clientele. Noting that there are always problems to overcome in business, Brown asserts that it is possible to do more than just survive as an entrepreneur.

“We don’t have enough time to talk ‘bout all the things I face over the years. The amount of time I get a setback! Just a couple months ago, right before Christmas, I lost 160 baby chicks. Rat get into the coop, and that was it. I had to find the money quick quick to fix the coop and start over. The main thing is not to give up, especially when there are other people depending on you,” Brown shared.

The list of people who look to Brown for support includes a group of elderly neighbours in the community. The farmer provides food items for them on a regular basis, with something extra during holidays. Last Christmas, Brown also put together care packages comprising toiletries, food and books for the Chantilly Infant and Primary School as well. Her outreach efforts recently came to the attention of Access Financial Services, resulting in some well-deserved recognition from the microfinance entity.

“Miss Brown is one of three recipients of this year’s Women in Business Award, which goes to micro and small business operators who are not only holding their own as women entrepreneurs, but who are also making meaningful contributions in their communities,” said Access Financial Services Chief Executive Officer Hugh Campbell.

“We pride ourselves on being a champion of small business, supporting and celebrating unsung heroes within the micro sector. Miss Brown is a classic example of women business owners who are making their mark in their little corner of the world, and we are so happy to support her as she helps others and achieves her goals.”




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