Barbadians find ways to earn money during tough economic times

by Neville Clarke

Ackee vendor, Desmond Herbert

With Barbados in the grips of one of the deepest recessions since the Great Depression of 1929, several Barbadians are using their creativity to gain income at a time when the level of unemployment in the country is hovering around 12 per cent.

Today, a team from Barbados TODAY visited some of the wayside vendors along the ABC Highway to find out how they were coping as the Freundel Stuart Administration and the private sector implement their programmes to grapple with the current economic downturn.

Ian Webster, 47, who used to participate in the Canadian Farm Labour Programme explained that he dropped out of the programme in 2003 and began to sell corn on the ABC Highway in 2005.

He added that in addition to selling corn on the highway, which he sees as a part-time job, he cultivates eight acres of land at Exchange Plantation in St. Thomas — because he likes to be his own boss.

Mona Atkins, 45, of Charnocks, Christ Church, told Barbados TODAY that she decided to open a canteen at Pilgrim Road, Christ Church, six years ago after she failed to secure a permanent appointment in the public service.

Corn vendor, Ian Webster
Corn vendor, Ian Webster

Atkins, who relocated her canteen at Charnocks, Christ Church 10 weeks ago said: “I attended the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies where I gained a Lower Second Class Honours degree in Social Work, but could not secure a permanent appointment in the public service.

“I grew tired of working several months before I received any money. Sometimes I was told that they could not process the voucher because they did not receive clearance from Services Commission, so I decided to open a canteen….”

She is assisted by her two sons, Thomas Atkins, who is pursuing a degree in Creative Arts at the Cave Hill campus and my 14 year old Lawson.

Bilver Emilien, who has been selling coconuts near the Newton round-about for the past two years and is the father of three children lamented that jobs were hard to find so he had to carve out a niche for himself.

Twenty-two year old Jamar Prescod, who has also been selling coconuts at the Newton for the past six years told Barbados Today that vending was “his job of choice”.

When told that there are reports that some coconut vendors make as much as $1,500 a week, Prescod responded that they make a lot more than that.

Ezra Barrow waits patiently for sales near the Deighton Griffith Secondary School.
Ezra Barrow waits patiently for sales near the Deighton Griffith Secondary School.

Ezra Barrow, 52, who sells home made fruit juices near the Deighton Griffith Secondary School complained that times were hard and argued that no one would employ him at his age.

“I do not have a family, but I have bills to pay so I have to ‘hustle’ to earn money,” Barrow said. “Besides the fruit juices, I also make natural wines for sale.”

Desmond Herbert, 51, who sells ackees near the Deighton Griffith Secondary School and is a winner of three NIFCA awards, explained that he has been a vendor all of his life, but he also spends much time in leather craft and shoe-making.

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