How Nayana Williams went from earning $500 to building a water company that brings in over $700M in revenue

Abu Mubarik March 20, 2024
Nayana Williams, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Lifespan Company Limited. Photo:

Meet Nayana Williams, a Jamaican entrepreneur, CEO, and philanthropist who founded Lifespan Company Limited, one of Jamaica’s leading bottled water manufacturing companies. From scratch, she built the water company to success and prominence, making it a market leader in bottled spring water.

The water company was operated by three people when it started in 2005 but came to have 155 employees and over $700 million in revenue, besides achieving a growth rate of over 10,000 percent at the close of 2019, according to the Jamaica Observer.

Williams earned US$500 per week as a graphic artist prior to founding her company. However, inspirational stories of women leaders like Angela Merkel, Rosa Parks, and Josephine Baker would inspire her to become her own boss.

“I have always been fascinated by women who have crossed boundaries and opened doors for other women. A few of the women who have inspired me are Rosa Parks and Josephine Baker,” she told the Jamaica Observer. “In recent times, Angela Merkel, who has demonstrated what it means to be a true leader and a fearless woman.”

Williams lived in America for some time before she came back to Portland, Jamaica, in 2005 to start Lifespan.

“When I returned to Jamaica, it was to the parish of Portland, which is breathtakingly beautiful, but with limited career opportunities,” she told The Gleaner. “After evaluating what resources [were] available, I decided to create a job for myself and others with the intention of contributing to building up my community and raising the standard of living for myself, my family and my community, which led to starting Lifespan.”

Her success story in the water bottling industry has won her praise across the world. Her company won the Monde Selection Grand Gold International Quality Award two years in a row. For Williams, “Building this company from inception is something I am extremely proud of.”

The Titchfield High School alumna pursued a law degree but chose entrepreneurship over a law career.

“Though I pursued a law degree, I could not see myself living in the mundane. I have to be constantly challenged in a creative way. I wanted to set my own rules and pursue my passion and my purpose.”

Today, Williams has overcome multiple challenges to be where she is now, particularly operating in a male-dominated field.

Her go-to place for relaxation is often the beach or green areas. She claims that she experiences a sense of peace when she connects with nature.

“My go-to place is my hammock to relax and look out at the ocean, the sky, and the greenest of the trees. I feel very peaceful and connected to nature when I am in this environment. I am a lover of the environment and nature,” she said.

Williams is married with children. As a wife, mother, daughter, and sister, she serves as a mentor to emerging entrepreneurs. Also, she holds multiple degrees in business and a law degree. The Jamaican entrepreneur enjoys reading, writing, swimming, and cooking, among other pastimes, when she is not busy building businesses and giving back to the community.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 20, 2024


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