Changing country is not easy for any family, much less for a 70-year-old person. However, for Rosa Elena Mejías de Tineo (Mama Chelena) these two conditions have not prevented her from starting her own entrepreneurship with which she helps her family and has fun doing.
Mejías de Tineo is a Venezuelan woman who came to Trinidad almost four years ago to visit her three children (Adrián, Adriana and Andreina), but who later decided, together with her husband, Jesús de ella, to stay to support her united family.
“These are very difficult times when the family has to separate. It has been experienced by millions of Venezuelans who, due to the difficult socioeconomic situation in our country, have had to seek other horizons,” said Mejias de Tineo.
Seeing her children only on video calls made her reflect on the possibility of being together again.
Her children, who have been living in TT for over five years, needed the warmth and company of their her parents.
“Today, only Adriana and Andreina are with me. Adrian had to go back to Venezuela,” she said.
Mejías de Tineo is not a woman to sit idly by and she needed to do something to generate income and at the same time stay active.
A few months ago she began to prepare the sweets she learned to make as a child at home.
“While cooking for my daughters, grandchildren and sons-in-law we realised that we could start a family business and I began to prepare sweets for some friends, from there the idea of our brand Chelechicha arose, a combination of my nickname and our main product, chicha,” she said.
Fruit cakes (pineapple, carrot, peach, banana, squash, lemon, chocolate), coconut rice, juices, quesillos (flan), conservas, nougat and some cold desserts have filled the palate of her Venezuelan and Trinidadian clients.
“My children and sons-in-law help me to promote the sweets and I am in charge of making them with all the love and Venezuelan flavour.”
And Chelechicha has started to show positive results. First, the sweets were offered in Diego Martin, her comfort zone, but it has already spread to the north of Trinidad.
“Customers are spreading the word, they help us promote our sweets and every day there are more people calling us.”
She and her daughters consult at each family union and exchange ideas on how to grow the business with new candy ideas.
There are three front-line supervisors who are in charge of testing and giving the go-ahead: husband, Jesús, and grand-children Sophia and Maximiliano.
“Age does not prevent starting an entrepreneurship. The most important thing is to have a clear idea and the desire to make it possible,” she said.
Mejias de Tineo is also dedicated to making costume jewelery, another of her passions.
“Ever since I arrived in TT, I always wanted to do something to help my children and to entertain myself. I thank this country because it has opened the doors for us to make dreams come true and to be able to remain united as a family.”
Chelechicha is gradually becoming a reference for the Venezuelan chicha in TT, a sweet drink that can be requested by calling 465-2352.