Sian Cuffy Young is the founder and CEO of a social enterprise called Siel Environmental Services Limited. Recipient of a Fulbright Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Programme scholarship from Cornell University, Sian specialised in quarry rehabilitation and is also a Colorado Certified Environmental Educator. She works primarily with small to medium-sized businesses to help them add an environmental side to their products and services and conducts waste audits. The young entrepreneur has an online teaching platform for waste related courses and has developed a children’s arm, all devoted to waste education. She is an overflowing fountain of knowledge and information and has worked in the field for over 14 years. Although when she just started her business she had no money or any savings, her passion and desire to transform the way people think and act towards waste in Trinidad and Tobago got her through the tough times and now to a place where she can proudly stand firmly as a woman in business. As she continues to learn and grow, she has continued to find ways to get going with nothing, firstly, by utilising as many free opportunities until she can make money.
What is it like being a female environmentalist in our society, do you think you have any advantages/disadvantages?
Being a female in the environmental sector generally is wonderful as many more women have entered the field, however, drilling down to my specific area of waste management where it is predominantly male is another thing. You do not see many women involved in waste and if they are, they are normally at the lower levels (as sorters and pickers etcetera.)
Tell us something about you that people may not know.
I have a healthy fear of snakes. Most people think environmentalists love all animals. I do love them all but there are those I respect—snakes top that list...lol.
What are you most grateful for?
I am most grateful for my life and my love of Christ, for my supportive family and husband and for my wonderful children.
What is something you know for sure that you wish the rest of us knew?
I know that everything we do is connected in this circle of life (Lion King reference is done on purpose). I think we, as a people, are disconnected from how our actions can affect not only the environment but life in general. We no longer have this love of place and by place I refer to our country, our beautiful island of Trinidad and Tobago. If we loved this place where we live, it wouldn’t be treated in the way we do (treat it)—there would not be open dumps everywhere and people would never litter (that is my pet peeve). We have to get back to that place where we love and cherish where we are from.
What is the best advice you have to give to any young entrepreneur/woman who might read this story?
I want to encourage more women to take on leadership roles in this area. We just have to show up and be confident in what we do and in what we have to offer.
To you young entrepreneur, know that this road you are embarking on is not an easy one and there are times that you will struggle—with yourself and with your business—but know that once your goals are in alignment with your strategy and your passion you are on the right path. Keep persevering because through it, success is on the other end.
Do you have anything else to add?
I want us to remember these words: I am only one but I am one; I cannot do everything but I can do something and I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do because it is time we start doing better things.