Sarah and Sham Ramrattan love Jamaican food so much they created JamWest Caribbean
Foods, Inc. to make and sell wholesale Jamaican patties and other Caribbean foods. They
spent $150,000 equipping a 3,000-square-foot facility with a kitchen in Canyon Country and
a dining and retail sales location in nearby Santa Clarita.
“We built out the space with our own money, and it kind of cleaned us out,” Sarah said. “It
cost us so much more than we expected in fees and licenses.” Needing direction on where to
find additional working capital, the Ramrattans turned to the Small Business Development
Center hosted by College of the Canyons where Senior Business Advisor Gil Murphy helped
them create a brief, to-the-point business plan and gave them advice that lead to their
successfully obtaining a $208,000 business loan.
“We cannot thank the SBDC’s Gil Murphy enough for his counseling,” Sarah said. “He gave us
invaluable lessons that allowed us to better develop and summarize our business endeavor
into an easy-to-read, 12-page business plan.”
The business idea was initiated by their West Indian background. Sham Ramrattan is a physician
born and raised in Guyana, and Sarah is Jamaican, raised in Toronto, Canada. A friend with a
similar business in Canada helped train and set them up, and, in February 2008, they began
doing business as the only West Coast manufacturer of Jamaican foods. Soon after, however,
they needed more cash and realized their detailed, 40-page business plan was too complex
to present to lenders.
SBDC Business Advisor Gil Murphy had Sarah rework the plan, emphasizing that a sound
business plan would help the Ramrattans run their business and should not be just for a
lending review. Sarah redid financial projections, revising out inflated numbers for more
realistic ones, and created profit and loss projections to match her objectives for the first
“A business plan is like a road map,” Murphy said. “A well-thought-out plan is a guide for owners
and should be visited at least quarterly.”
“I make them walk right through the business plan,” he added. “I want them involved in the
creation and editing of this work, so they understand their business 100 percent.”
When the plan was complete, Murphy accompanied the Ramrattans to the bank, introducing
them to meet with the bank officers and stayed to offer support during that important, first
Since obtaining the loan, the couple’s business has grown. Their Jamaican patties are now
sold in the College of the Canyons cafeteria. The Ramrattans have developed new income by
producing foods – granola and salad dressings – in their kitchen for other food companies.
They’ve expanded to movie production catering, and their retail location has developed a
steady stream of customers.