Taking control of the value chain: The Gopex International success story


“Our biggest enemy is the bank. Once we were just two months behind on our payment for this beautifully cultivated piece of land. Next thing we know the bank had put it up for auction! Thankfully we were well networked and had the auction cancelled”. – Rajden Bissessar, Gopex InternationalNV

Rajden, Quality Manager and adviser at Gopex International, along with its CEO, Bhisnoepersad Gopaul spoke about their challenges, successes and experiences at a workshop of the Caribbean-Pacific Agri-Food Forum 2015. The workshop focused on successful agribusiness owners who provide insight into the story of their business and the obstacles they faced.

In sharing their knowledge, they can then assist the many persons within the region who seek out such a path, exposing them to the hardships of entrepreneurship but at the same time motivating them.

Gopex InternationalNV, based in Suriname, stands as a great example of entrepreneurs exceeding expectations. Rajden gave a brief interview with social reporters for the event, telling us more:

Keron: I know Gopex is an export company, can you explain in detail?

Rajden: Of course. We export fruit and vegetables from our own farmlands in Suriname. However, we manage our entire value chain. We do production, harvesting and food handling, storage and transportation as well as packaging. We also do value added goods for the local market.

Keron: But why manage your own value chain? I would imagine this is expensive.

Rajden: Yes the initial cost has been high. However for us we value our clients and consumers. We have spent the last 3 years following procedures and requirements to attain Global G.A.P. (Good Agricultural Practices) certification. We already have HAACP (Hazard Analysis and Control Points) and ISO (International Standards Organization) certification.

In our experiences, the consumer appreciates all that we have done to improve our quality and we are happy to take on the challenge in doing so.

Keron: Alright, I completely understand but about the bank situation? You got them to cancel the auction?

Rajden: Yes, Mr. Gopaul comes from a farming family, so they already had a good reputation. With Gopex growing and gaining the support of several stakeholders, we were able to tap into their support on the matter of the bank. There can be no auction without buyers or organisers, so it was cancelled. From then on, to avoid such a situation we decided we would borrow from friends and family or private investors in the future.

Keron: So what tips would you have for agripreneurs?

Rajden: Firstly, you must be dedicated to your work and go after it. I think we all know this. Also as a farmer you should be aware of the trends that are occurring on your market so that you anticipate severe risk to your business.

Lastly networking is of great importance as it helps in situations of dire consequences such as what we explained before with the land and the auction.

Keron: So what does Gopex do now? Judging from the story thus far, I would say you have expanded?

Rajden: Yes. When Mr. Gopaul started as a 12 year old with his father and grandfather they had 10 hectares of land. We now have over 80 hectares.

We are getting into the horticultural industry and have recently earned a contract with KFC adding to our already immense value chain. We certainly wish to do our best and continue to grow. Don’t forget about us!

Keron: Never!

There you have a shining example for the young agribusiness men and women scattered throughout the Caribbean. From the Gopex story, one can clearly see the drive and the need to be the leaders of their field. Hold fast and stay dedicated to your dreams and bring your business into reality as well as the realm of success!

Blogpost by Keron Bascombe, Social Reporter for the Caribbean-Pacific Agri-Food Forum 2015. 

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