“We use the waste material from the coconut industry in Trinidad and Tobago,” said Duncan. “We process coconut into coat peat and infuse it with molten waste plastics to form a malleable material to make glasses frames.”
From waste to eyewear
Duncan came up with this business idea while looking for a solution to the growing amount of waste produced in urban centers.
“Management of waste has become a major social, environmental, and economic issue, which impacts public and private health as well as activities,” she explained. “Coco Beam is a part of the creative solution to aid in the reduction of the organic waste problem in Trinidad and Tobago.”
Duncan’s idea not only a good thing for the environment; it’s also a good business concept that can tap into the fast-growing and very profitable eyewear market. For example, in 2015 in the United States alone, the combined eyewear and sunglasses market is estimated to generate approximately $34.45 billion.
“Coco Beam eyewear seeks to target environmentally conscious individuals who seek to be a part of the Caribbean aesthetics, while simultaneously addressing the waste management issues of the Caribbean,” Duncan said.
From idea to Green Tech Boot Camp
Last November, Duncan and her team — which includes an environmental engineer, a designer, and a visual artist — participated in the Green Tech Boot Camp organized in Trinidad and Tobago by the Caribbean Climate Innovation Center (CCIC).
The boot camp aims to build local capacity and promote a supportive ecosystem for clean-tech entrepreneurs in the Caribbean. Specifically, the initiative helps local start-ups connect with other companies, potential partners, industry experts, and mentors, while also offering insights on how to scale a clean-tech business.
Duncan described the experience as “an opportunity to network with like-minded individuals and get direction for the development of the business idea.”
Next step? Investors
Duncan is now a participant in the CCIC’s Micro Mentor Programme. She and her team hope the CIC will be able to assist them with the development of a prototype.
“We crave opportunities for financial investment to convert our business ideas with a complementary support network. The research and development of the composition formula would require a host of inputs,” she stated.
The necessary equipment includes a compacting machine, an advanced research lab, as well as a cast for the development of the prototype.
With those next steps in mind, Duncan is confident she can realize her dream of the first coconut husk eyewear company in the Caribbean.
Funded by the government of Canada through infoDev, the Caribbean Climate Innovation Center (CCIC) is one of the three arms of the Entrepreneurship Program for Innovation in the Caribbean (EPIC). The Innovation Centre is one of seven CICs established across the world with counterparts in Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Vietnam, Morocco, and Ghana.