The Mistake That Made Me: Dr Yakama Jones, CEO, Peninsular Innovative Group


Dr Yakama Manty-Jones is co-founder and CEO of Peninsular Innovative Group (PIG). She is also a Doctor of Economics and Finance and the Team Lead of the President’s Delivery Team.

PIG is co-owned by Dr Jones and her husband, maximising the potential of Dr Jones’s business understanding and her husband’s logistics expertise. “My husband and I were both working full time when we started our company,” Dr Jones recalls. “However, with a growing family and investment interests we decided to supplement our financial needs with a business.”

Established in 2007, it was initially called Peninsular Innovative Services and provided clearing and forwarding services.

In 2012, Peninsular Innovative Services expanded into Peninsular Innovative Group, after Dr Jones and her husband acquired the Philippines based Crystal Clear franchise in Sierra Leone and the right to be the sole distributor of their refillable water dispensers.

Today PIG owns 100% of Crystal Clear’s Sierra Leonean outfit, which has now diversified into bottled water production. PIG has also diversified into shipping through the Trans Sahara Shipping Company, providing shipping agency services in Freetown.

Growing and diversifying the company taught the Jones’s that some business risks are worth taking.

Learning to deal with risk

Entrepreneurship comes with inherent risk, but the Jones’s aversion to risk taking meant that expansion and diversification took longer than expected.

“We started off using our own savings. We re-invested our small profits back into the business, supplemented with our salaries with the idea that we wanted to grow organically. Growing organically is fine. However, to attain certain growth trajectories we needed more substantial capital injections,” Dr Jones says.

The fear of tapping into additional capital streams, Dr Jones realised, was placing Peninsular Innovative Services at a disadvantage against its competitors, especially with Crystal Clear. Crystal Clear uses a reverse osmosis five-stage purification process. For every litre of purified water, approximately 30% waste water is generated.

Most of Crystal Clear’s competitors use cheaper filtration processes, but they all sell at the average market price. The Jones’s had two unsatisfactory choices – sell their water at the higher price necessary to make a significant profit or cut back on the quality of the product.

They opted for a third way and took a loan which served as a cushion.

This allowed them to maintain the quality of Crystal Clear and sell the product at market price, while also allowing them to invest in their own natural spring source and plant, which has eradicated their exorbitantly high water rates thereby reducing overheads.

The Jones’s continue to practise a cautious approach to borrowing, which they are comfortable with: “With realistic budgeting we take small loan instalments, pay them off, before we apply for other loans,” Dr Jones explains. “In a way we are still growing organically, the growth is just now more visible.”

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