If you look hard enough, you’ll find business opportunities just around the corner. Author, sculptor and now businessman, Stephen Okeke has started what has turned out to be a flourishing chain of Fresh Juice joints. News Five’s Jose Sanchez has the story.
Jose Sanchez, Reporting
Sculptor and businessman Stephen Okeke’s new venture is transforming the juice of fresh fruit into cold cash.
Stephen Okeke, Owner of Joy Fresh Juices
“I thought why should we be constrained to drink concentrates when we are actually living in the rainforest. We have all these fruits around, why should we be constrained to drink concentrates alone. And for all those who want to drink fresh juices, yes there are tacos stands, but there are people who would not want to go there, but they want to drink fresh juices. So they will be constrained to go there.”
The entrepreneur has opened several fresh juice operations in Belize City. From the headquarters on Cemetery Road the juices are made, packaged and shipped to outlets such as this one on Freetown Road.
“These businesses were not developed for me as long as I want to. Actually I had developed this businesses as what I call small business models. I had tried to work with the government before and it was very difficult. So I developed these businesses with the intent of handing them over to Belizeans. So there were actually six. I developed the first ones to sell ice cream, fresh juices and other frozen treats one on Albert Street and Queen Street and eventually after they have been developed I handed them over to the Belizeans who wanted to get them. So we have four locations right now packaged and ready to go.”
“So essentially, you are making a successful business to sell?”
“Well I’m making a successful business to hand people to give them an opportunity to acquire success.”
Okeke has sold two of the six establishments. The business on Queen Street was bought by Moses Williams and his girlfriend. After one year it has been expanded into a fast food restaurant.
Moses Williams, Owner, Amy’s Fast Food
“We ventured out and looked for a place and this was the ideal spot.”
“So you approached Mister Okeke?”
“We approached him and asked him about getting the place and he spoke to us and he was willing to give us a start and we went for it. It was very reasonable and we went for it.”
“How successful has it been? Have you been able to do additional things other than juices?”
“Well we’ve done a lot of things. I’m not saying based on success, but based on intervention. We decided to added a lot of stuff to it; fast food, finger foods, slushes. Well the slush was already here, but we’ve added smoothie, cold coffee and with the food we expanded to make a restaurant.”
“You took an established idea and made it into your own.”
“Well, that is true. It was good that we found it started and we didn’t have to put much funds into it and well it ventured off. So it was just us to put our input into it and put more into it and add more to it to make it more vibrant and sellable and people want to come in noh.”
“We have a wide range of juices. We have something like strawberry-banana, which is our own special blend and we have another blend of juice that we call the kick. We haven’t begun selling them right now. It’s a blend of banana and lime. We also have the traditional straight freshes like orange, watermelon, cantaloupe, papaya, lime and other natural fruits we have in Belize.”
“We are in an age where we are recovering from a global recession. Have you been able to make this business a success?”
“Our business is recession proof and our business is trans-seasonal. That is to say we are going to have to wait until Christmas to sell, but we sell everyday of the week. We are selling a product, we are selling a service, we are selling a signature that makes that we are not concerned about competition. We have our clients we serve them very well.”
The taste of success is sweet and suitably noted by the consumers of Joy Fresh Juices. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.
Joy Fresh Juice sells the thirty-two ounce cup for two dollars and the gallon for ten dollars.