By Sueann Wickham
In a world brimming with endless possibilities, there exists a breed of individuals who dare to envision a future brighter than one would normally hope for and they stop at nothing to turn their dreams into reality. These beings are known as entrepreneurs, pioneers who forge new paths and challenge conventional norms. Among these trailblazers stands Joshua Edward, a 25-year-old unyielding force of inspiration whose journey from selling pizza to pay his university tuition now has his own employment agency.
But it wasn’t just any journey, it was an odyssey that began with his determination to complete his studies at the University of Guyana by selling pizza through his business Wendy’s Pizza Parlour, a humble start that held within it the seeds of a remarkable vision.
After completing his sixth-form studies in St. Lucia, Edward, born to Guyanese parents, decided to further his education in Guyana at the University of Guyana. However, as he embarked on this new chapter, he faced financial hardships that threatened to impede his journey. Undeterred by the challenges, Edward remained resolute in crafting his own success story. With the unwavering support of his mother, he seized the opportunity and launched his business venture, “Wendy’s Pizza Parlour – Where There’s A Pizza For Everyone,” in February 2020, just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Determined to pave his way through college and build a thriving business simultaneously, the young entrepreneur took to the streets of Georgetown with a pizza tray in hand, tirelessly working to finance his education. Reflecting on those early days in his interview with the Guyana Standard, he emphasized how they instilled in him the true value of hard work. Edward’s unwavering dedication and entrepreneurial spirit soon caught the attention of people all over the country, including government officials, the local private sector, and the media. In no time, he became renowned as the inspiring young man who not only managed to navigate through university but also triumphed by selling pizzas along the way.
It was earlier this year when the idea that would become Purpose Employment Agency came to Edward. Driven by a deep desire to make an impact in his community and Guyana, Edward said he felt a calling to help the unemployed find meaningful jobs. “My goal in life is to make an impact in the hearts and minds of many and that impact could now ride on the wings of this employment agency,” he stated.
With a vision to bridge the divide between employers and qualified job seekers, Edward’s idea gained momentum as he witnessed the plight of businesses struggling to find competent staff. Even as his venture, Wendy’s Pizza Parlour, flourished and required more employees, he encountered the challenges of hiring individuals who weren’t the best fit for the job, leading to inevitable feelings of “embarrassment or shame were imminent”. “But God always saw me through,” he reflected.
Armed with determination and a thirst for knowledge, Edward took the initial steps to kickstart Purpose Employment Agency. “Knowledge is power,” he affirmed, recognizing that to create a successful agency, he needed to learn what he did not know. From YouTube videos to reading books and studying business information, Edward and his team worked tirelessly to make their vision a reality.
However, building an agency from scratch was no small feat. Edward encountered numerous challenges along the way, but each obstacle only fueled his determination to succeed. Securing capital to kickstart his agency was one of his initial hurdles, but he refused to let this setback deter him. Undeterred, Edwards embraced the concept of starting small and building gradually. “We never despise small beginnings,” he remarked, noting that “Rome wasn’t built in one day.”
Another challenge he shared was gaining the trust and support of potential clients. As he reflected he noted that he faced skepticism and doubt and even recalled a few hurtful remarks and rejections received as he pursued clients, but he remained steadfast in his vision. Recognizing that openness and transparency were paramount he diligently communicated the core values and mission of his agency, ensuring that every individual, whether client or job seeker felt valued and understood.
Witnessing candidates struggle to maintain their jobs was another challenge, however, this one was more so emotional. Determined to address this issue, he shared that Purpose Employment Agency launched its Training School, a platform dedicated to making individuals qualified for the working world. “We have to do something about the high unemployment rate in Guyana,” Edward emphasized, “Our major milestone is to have 100,000 people employed because of us by 2030.”
So far, the impact of the Purpose Employment Agency on the lives of job seekers has been nothing short of profound, as Edward joyfully attested. He took pride in recounting numerous success stories of candidates who had found meaningful employment through the agency. However, one particular story resonated with him on a deeply personal level, and it remained etched in his memory.
Edward vividly recalled the first person who approached the agency and paid the $5000 processing fee. She expressed her burning desire to work as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in the ambulance service. While Edward recognized the specificity of her career choice and the potential challenges it posed with the agency’s refund policy, she unwaveringly complied with the process.
Upon reviewing her resume, Edward was deeply moved. He noticed that it was adorned with certificates in first aid and other qualifications from the medical field. He sensed that her skills and passion were too exceptional to be confined to a standard application process. Driven by his commitment to making a difference, he took the initiative to create a personalized Purpose Employment Agency resume for her.
With unwavering dedication, he visited the fire station where the young lady had applied multiple times before, as she had shared with him. He met with the relevant authorities, showcasing her exceptional resume, and passionately advocated for her potential as an EMT candidate. His efforts bore fruit, as the young lady was recently offered the opportunity to begin her training to fulfil her dream of becoming an EMT. Edward’s heart swelled with pride and satisfaction, knowing that he had played a pivotal role in helping her achieve her aspirations.
To maintain a competitive edge, he shared that Purpose Employment Agency set itself apart with a unique refund policy for clients. “I do not believe that you should have to wait three months to be employed or that you should not be reimbursed if you do not get a job,” the entrepreneur firmly stated.
The agency’s commitment to offering job opportunities in various sectors and locations further differentiates them from competitors. Edward’s vision for growth includes Employee Loan Services, Affiliate Member Programming, and sensitizing the nation on relevant work documents.
Reflecting on his journey, the entrepreneur acknowledged the personal growth and transformation he experienced. “Walking around with this tray of pizza in my hand to sell may seem simple, but it has taught me many things,” he shared.
However, his proudest moment came when he graduated from university, an accomplishment he shared with his mother, Wendy Edward. “That day, that moment, was my proudest moment,” he recalled, “Seeing my mom tirelessly make pizza just for me to graduate, it proved that where there is a will, there is a way.”
Looking ahead, his vision for Purpose Employment Agency is to end unemployment in Guyana and make the agency the number one adversary of joblessness. The plan includes expanding services, sensitizing the nation on work documents, and even addressing mental health issues in the workplace.
To aspiring young entrepreneurs, Edward offered straightforward advice: “Start. Get it registered and begin.” He encouraged them not to despise small beginnings and to remain focused on their goals, just as he did when he started selling pizza.
Edward’s journey from a pizza seller to a purposeful entrepreneur is a testament to the power of determination, resilience, and vision. Through Purpose Employment Agency, he transformed his experiences and challenges into an impactful platform that is changing lives and combating unemployment in Guyana. His story serves as an inspiration to others, reminding us that with passion, hard work, and belief in oneself, we can make a difference and create a better future for our communities and beyond.