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Under The Olive Tree

Arthmadeo and Debra Nangoo are the proprietors of Olive Tree Restaurant and International Caterers in San Fernando. The husband and wife team started their business out of their home and overcame various challenges to establish themselves as leaders in their field.

How did they do it? 

Arthmadeo Nangoo grew up on Jordan Hill, Cipero Village, San Fernando. He came from a family of ten and grew up as any other child from rural Trinidad, playing cricket and feasting on mangoes and sugar cane. In 1983, he found work as a time-keeper                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         at Caroni Ltd. and later married Debra who was a store clerk at the time. His weekly pay was $450, which was just enough to put food on the table. “We never saw it as poverty since we were happy,” says Mr. Nangoo.  But the Nangoo’s had plans to improve themselves, especially as they were now parents to three girls.

During that time, Mrs. Nangoo took some cooking courses and this meant she had to travel by bus, late at night, to John Donaldson Technical Institute in Port-of-Spain.

She plied her skills at her church’s special events and the church members were impressed. As time passed and word spread of Debra’s cooking talent, individuals came to the Nangoos when they needed catering for their own events.

Their first job outside of the church was to cater a Christmas luncheon for a secondary school that later asked them to cater the school’s graduation ceremony. In 1997, they turned their parents’ garage into a commercial kitchen and there, International Caterers was born.

The time came for them to find a new residence and location for their business and in 1998, they opened a fast food business in St. James Street, San Fernando. Business was good but unfortunately, after one and a half months, the landlord reclaimed the place, along with all their equipment. “For six months, we could not move on as the discouragement was too great,” says Arthmadeo whose family was then living at a relative’s home.

In 2002, they found a good location in Victoria Village and opened another fast food outlet, which was successfully selling lunches to carious businesses. This landlord also noticed their success and took the place back while persuading their staff to stay with him. Their religious beliefs prevented them from taking the matter further so they decided to move on.

While Arth was doing his MBA, he worked as a part time lecturer in order to provide for their family and their growing business. Through advertising and word-of-mouth, they gained contracts with major companies, such as CLICO, Guardian Life, Digicel and Republic Bank. “While other caterers were serving one spoon of rice and a piece of chicken, we were asking how much you want,” recalls Arthmadeo. 

One thing that was still out of reach for the Nangoos was their own house. They stayed by relatives and rented for years. “It did not bother us that we never had a house but we had a home,” says Arthmadeo. Finally, after several years, they had saved enough to make a down payment but instead of using the funds to buy a house, they rented a property that Arthmadeo had found on Independence Avenue and opened a restaurant.

As their savings weren’t enough for them hire a decorator, Debra implemented her own interior design skills to create a restaurant that offered a buffet of Asian, American, Thai and Italian food, among others.

They opened in September 2009 and while Olive Tree is still in its beginning stages, the Nangoos believe that it has great potential and that, in the long–term, it will bear fruit. Arthmadeo Nangoo reflects on the journey that he and his wife had to take as entrepreneurs, “After losing two businesses you develop a strong character and resilience. We have faith in God and by doing the right things, it has made us successful.”

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  • Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
183ac385axM Firmin, CAP-HAITIAN, Haiti  |  April 18, 2013
  • Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
Holly-Rose Robinson  |  November 10, 2012
This is what resilience and commitment can do. Thank God for a husband and wife who will stick together through thick and thin and work together as a family. Your story is encouraging for me because you didn't let the setbacks stop you. Keep pursuing your dreams
  • Currently 3.0/5 Stars.
Kirt Hills, San Juan, Trinidad and Tobago  |  October 23, 2012
Good story...but it did not really showcase the role of the bank in helping SME's
  • Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
Giselle Gioannetti  |  August 08, 2012
Very inspiring. I always admire a husband and his wife working together through thick and thin, especially in terms of starting and growing a business. Indeed you both are destined for success. God Bless.
  • Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
Jason Thomas, San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago  |  July 31, 2011
Thank you for this testimony. I pray God continues to bless the Nangoo's and all that they undertake.
  • Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
Natasha Durant-Oliver  |  July 13, 2011
Wow. Just beautiful. Thank you for the encouragement to go on.<br/>