Across the world, businesses are shutting down because of COVID-19 but here in South Trinidad, a young accountant is using the pandemic as an opportunity to expand.
Rasheen Hosein, 31, an accountant at the Institute of Law and Academic Studies said when travel was impacted with the closure of T&T’s borders, he and his business partner Shannon Seedan decided to expand their enterprise.
Being the founders and directors of Travel With Us travel agency, directors of Rasheed Hosein Contractors as well as In-Pro Industrial Maintenance Services, they realised that it was time to go into another field and create opportunity out of the crisis.
“There was a significant impact on the travel industry but we decided to turn the crisis into an opportunity. My sole mantra has always been to give back to society. I knew that travel was going to take a hit so I thought of ways in which I could give back, even if it was out of my pocket,” Hosein added.
Devastated to see so many people unable to provide food for their families, Seedan and Hosein decided to do a food drive last May to help the needy and it was out of this his idea to open a supermarket emerged.
“We brainstormed on the possibility of life during and after COVID and we recognised that supermarkets were an essential commodity,” Hosein said.
Within three months, Hosein and Seedan pooled their resources together and opened up the RS Save With US Supermarket at Union Road, Marabella.
During their assessment of the impact of COVID-19, Hosein said they realised that many other supermarkets were price gouging.
“It gave us the satisfaction that we could afford to provide goods at a much cheaper price. We knew we could provide affordable food items and we decided to use the supermarket as a means of giving back to the community during trying times,” Hosein added.
The supermarket has five employees and Hosein said he was determined to keep prices as low as possible.
He said his father Rasheed Hosein, who died last year, had ingrained in him good values and dedication to humanity so it was no problem for him to put in the extra work with little or no monetary gain.
“My father was a family person and he always made sure that we had food first before he ate. He always stood by us and he made sure we had everything. He was a hard worker and was dedicated to helping others.
“He struggled as a child and had nothing when he got married to my mother Zaminah Hosein. He built us up and when I turned 18, we registered his company,” Hosein said.
Knowing he would make his parents proud, Hosein said they worked on ways to help people get access to grocery items without having to come out of their homes.
“We have created WhatsApp groups to ensure that persons are informed of our current bargains and also involved in our marketing strategies. We are also in the process of developing a website to ensure that persons can order grocery items,” he said.
He noted that using Facebook and Instagram to market their deals have been successful as well.
Saying that it was possible to thrive in an environment bombarded with continued economic stagnation and disease, Hosein revealed: “My business focus has been to move away from travel and shift to another business opportunity for the provision of food, which is more practical at this time.”
Having been in business since the age of 18, the young entrepreneur said business owners should become less competitive and more engaging if they are to survive in the global village.
Admitting it was difficult managing his business enterprise as well as his full-time job as an accountant, Hosein said exploring new business opportunities was exhilarating to him and Seedan.
He said as they continue to expand in the post-COVID world, he was adamant to hold on to the values his parents imparted to him as a child.