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How David F. Roberts is expanding the Caribbean brand

BEAUTY SPOT: David F. Roberts is working to show the world that there is more to the Caribbean than luscious vistas

DAVID F. Roberts, owner of CaribDirect MultiMedia Limited and creator of Jus’Caribbean Festival and Caribbean Food and Drink Conference is a man on a mission to expand the Caribbean brand.

Roberts’ track record in trading the Caribbean brand spans a triangular route charting the UK, the Caribbean and Africa.

Most recently for Roberts came an invitation by the Department for International Trade asking him to address business men and women at the British High Commission in Jamaica about exporting to the Caribbean and UK in bilateral trading agreements.

In a few weeks’ time businesses and communities from across the UK and the Caribbean will descend on Lambeth in south London for three days of business trading and festivities at the Caribbean Food and Drink Conference and the Jus’Caribbean Festival which runs from 18-20 August; with sponsorship from international food and drink giant, Grace Foods UK.

The inspiration for this venture came two years ago.

“In 2015 we did an expo in Windrush Square, Brixton. There was no sponsorship deals to bank roll the event and it attracted 3000 people on the square. There were 21 stalls, ranging from food and drinks, art and craft, education, music, a carnival band, to comedy by comedienne Donna Spence. The legendary actor, Rudolph Walker who stars as Patrick on BBC TV’s long running series,
EastEnders, also put in an appearance.”

Roberts was born in England of mixed Caribbean heritage - mum Guyanese, dad a trained lawyer of Grenadian origin. The entrepreneur studied mass communication and like his dad, as well as law.

He admits that his mum has been his biggest inspiration:

“My mother has been my rock who always encouraged and inspired me to be strong and remain faithful.”

The family moved from the UK to the Caribbean when Roberts was just four years old. First to Grenada, followed by Antigua and St. Lucia where his dad was contracted to work for respective governments. Then in 1980 he moved to Guyana, spending twelve years before moving back to St. Lucia. Whilst there he studied mass communication at the satellite campus of the University of the West Indies then to British Virgin Islands (BVI) where he studied law at the satellite campus there.

“I was still living in the BVI when I was invited to co-own a weekly shoppers’ guide newspaper called The Penny Saver. This was also followed by work on a weekly entertainment magazine called the Limin’ Times Magazine, owned by a British expat”, recalled Roberts.

When he eventually returned to live in London he began working for various Caribbean and African-focused broadcasters, newspaper and magazine publishers.

At one stage he entered the Dragons Den with his business idea, facing the Dragons, whom he said were brutal - the trip to the den was unsuccessful, but the connections he made during the process included meeting a millionaire based in Canary Wharf and this encounter led to a joint business venture.

“We set-up a company which specialised in designing and constructing outdoor advertising platforms and making road signs for Caribbean countries,” Roberts recalled.

While he admits that his personal inspiration is his mum, his biggest professional influencer is Richard Branson, who he has yet to meet.

“He is someone who I respect in how he manages his business and although I became aware of him when I was living in the British Virgin Islands and he already owned Necker Island, I wasn’t that versed in international affairs and the Virgin Brand was fairly alien to me back then.”

David F. Roberts may be a long way from the Caribbean Islands and certainly have some catching-up to do on Richard Branson’s business track record but with faith, hard work and great connections, this multi-media islander looks set for greater success.

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