A flashback reminds you of how far you have come.
It is always good to think back to your learning experiences, checking to see what you have learned and identifying your future direction. This week tech4agri features yet another growing youth in agriculture who has done just this.
Shenissa Pariag is a budding agricultural entrepreneur who in late 2013 earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Agribusiness and Entrepreneurship with first class honors. She has been a recipient of an award for outstanding academic performance on two occasions while pursuing her Bsc and was also on the dean’s honour roll. In addition she is an active member and works closely with the Agribusiness Society of the University of the West Indies serving as its Quality assurance officer for academic year 2012 -2013. Currently her efforts are partly geared towards the establishment of a business partnership, called Agriworks4U.
In short, Shenissa is a budding entrepreneur and avid student; a stakeholder whose efforts, challenges and struggles are not known until she succeeds.
This interview (excerpt) conducted in late 2013 explores her experiences, to better understand the trials of the educated woman entrepreneur as it relates to the agri-sector.
Keron: Tell me about your current activities as a budding entrepreneur
Shenissa: Having recently completed my studies, I decided to take a year off although I was accepted to two universities in the UK both of which offered programmes in Management of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. I had this ambition to follow such a programme as I believe Innovation is an essential component absent from developmental initiatives within the agricultural sector of Trinidad and Tobago.
My time therefore is currently being spent actively involved in various projects within the agricultural sector in order to find where my passion lies and to find my niche in the agri sector. With certain opportunities afoot my approach has been one that is practical and proactive as I attempt to add perspective to my career ambitions.
As an entrepreneur I began with an idea developed in collaboration with two of my colleagues, Brittney Constable and Alpha Sennon. AgriWorks4U was birthed out of a desperate need to inject change into a sector we were all very passionate about. Our business focuses on agricultural and agribusiness development, youth empowerment and the application of new and innovative ideas or technologies all geared towards making agriculture more appealing.
Keron: What challenges are you facing in your endeavors? Are any of them stemming from an issue of gender bias?
Shenissa: So far I have not experienced any problems that are due to gender issues. Naturally I consider myself to be a strong, capable and confident individual and I believe I project that very attitude within a professional setting. My input has always been valued and I have been respected by many within the field. Digressing from gender issues, one of the major challenges I had to face and still face, stemmed from being placed in an agribusiness major, a field of study I had no prior knowledge or experience in. Furthermore, upon completing my degree, realizing the many opportunities which exist within the field, I was now faced with the challenge of narrowing my focus. At this point I also feel pressured to continue reading for my masters due to my great success at the Undergraduate level. However I would prefer to focus on my business or gain practical skills within a job setting.
Keron: What are your thoughts on similar strategies that could be employed for the benefit of women entrepreneurs?
Shenissa: Through my activities I have discovered that there are many women involved in existing agri programs throughout the country (Trinidad and Tobago). I think women are highly underestimated in the sector causing persons to think that there is no place for a woman within the field of agriculture. Agriculture encompasses so many differing aspects and even has room for roles to be created and developed. Our place in such a field need not be obscure and while I tend to not promote dependence on governmental initiatives I do think they still have a role to play in transforming stereotypical views of agriculture. I believe that is one of the biggest hurdles we face within Trinidad and Tobago and it undoubtedly hampers growth and development. Being an entrepreneur already a part of the agri sector I will encourage each female interested in being a part of this field to do so boldly, confidently and without fear of standing out. Our attitude towards progressive movement is our strategy. We are the strategy.
Keron: Thank you for sharing!
Shenissa: It was my pleasure!
Bringing it to the present.
Shenissa exemplified excellent focus and drive in 2013 and this has not changed for the new year. Her work with Agriworks4U has thrived and the business is growing having started to take on jobs and other projects. Additionally Shenissa was able to secure a position as the junior marketing manager at a local organic fertilizer distribution company.
Not only did she expose herself to many local farmers and producers, she also discovered a passion for print and visual design and will now pursue a Masters in Media Studies. Shenissa has improved her skill set having gained field experience in communicating with producers and also as a young professional in the provision of support services for agribusinesses.
“Once I have earned my Masters I do intend to use my new skills in the local agricultural setting. And of course I have colleagues and a business to return to.”— Shenissa Pariag
Shenissa exemplifies the driven attitude which youth must possess if they intend to succeed in the agricultural sector. Stay Dedicated!