North & East

From $100 a day to successful entrepreneur

Hanover native betters self through rafting

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, October 02, 2017

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WHEN Conrad Webster left Hanover for St Ann 11 years ago, he was making as little as $100 per day washing cars.

Fast-forward to today and the 31-year-old rafter is his own boss catering to locals and foreigners who visit St Ann for adventure and relaxation.

Bordering St Ann and St Mary, the White River is where he entertains guests on excursions along rippling turquoise water flanked by fishing villages — the final stop, a rich white-sand beach.

He explained to the Jamaica Observer North & East that it took him two and a half years to learn the craft after he lost his job. Although unfortunate, he had long decided that washing cars was not going to help him fulfil his dream of owning his own home and afford him the ability to adequately provide for his future children.

“Normally when I first came to St Ann I washed cars for like $100 dollars. Sometimes I only wash one. But I lose that job and never have nothing fi do. I never waah turn to crime, so mi seh mek mi try this thing here and do something better. There was a girl here I used to carry around on it and that's how I practise myself to do it,” Webster told Observer North & East.

He said after much thought he realised that the craft was common in the area, so he had to make himself “stand out”.

“Mi use 24 bamboo and build it, and then mi seh me a go try and design something different from the rest a man dem. So mi start decorate and add table and chair, music and a jerk pan for cooking,” Webster said.

“So mi cook lobster, fish, everything and you can play your games like dominoes, drink and party on it and so forth,” he added.

The raft, he said, can hold up to eight people, as he offers mostly couple and group tours.

The business is marketed by a friend living overseas who tweets and shares details about it on Facebook. As a result, numerous calls are made to Webster relating to enquiries and bookings.

“We take guests like 45 minutes to an hour down the river. And dem love it because normally I don't treat anybody bad. I get good customer appreciation and stuff,” he said.

He noted, too, that although the water is shallow, guests are provided with life vests as a precautionary measure.

Foreigners are charged US$30 per person, while locals “pay whatever they have”.

His goal, he shared, is to rebuild a home, as arsonists destroyed the house he had managed to build before.

“Trust me this, helping me to live a better life; keep me away from violence. It's my hustle and I love it,” he said.

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