- Published: 29 April 2015
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On the 31st January, 2015 the Government awarded grants to start 64 businessesSome 64 small business operators have received over $20 million in grants from the Tourism Ministry under the Micro and Small Enterprise Development (MSED) Project.
Government through the Low Carbon Development Strategy/Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (LCDS/GRIF) has injected some US$10 million to train and fund small business entrepreneurs. The money is to cover a four-year period. The MSE Development and Building Alternative Livelihoods for Vulnerable Groups project was launched in 2013 and was crafted to enable the best utilisation of the funds.
The project which is being administered by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and is monitored by the Finance Ministry, along with oversight by the Office of the President is being executed by the Small Business Bureau.
Chairman of the MSED Grants Committee and of the Small Business Bureau, Sukrishnalall Pasha, explained that small businesses have played a great role in social and economic development over the years. He noted that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) account for 40 per cent of the total employment created and contributed some 28 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
Pasha pointed out that initiatives such as these by Government have provided small business with the capital resources they need to expand. He stated that the value of these initiatives should not be underestimated and expressed gratitude to Government for supporting small businesses over the years.
“Today’s event is a practical demonstration of what could be achieved by bringing both leadership and a positive reaction by those willing to embrace and seize opportunities that are available to improve their lives,” he stated. He added that the Small Business Act implemented by Government, has proven to be beneficial for the sector in regulating its operations.
Meanwhile, Tourism, Industry and Commerce Ministry Irfaan Ali, underscored that small businesses plays critical role in building and expanding the economy. He noted often time the marco policy is missed such as the airport expansion project which can provide new opportunities for small businesses such as catering and other small services.
Another such project, he mentioned is the Marriot Hotel, which he said will create new traffic for community-based tourism and a trickle-effect for the food industry. On this note, the Minister advised hoteliers and restaurateurs to analyse the local market and use more local products so that it can create demand for small businesses in the future.
Ali further noted that it is important for there to be structure in the small business sector. “That structure must be able to bring our production together to provide market… part of the Small Business Bureau’s task is to mobilise small businesses into sectors and help to find markets and target those markets for the sector,” he pointed out.
On the other hand, President Donald Ramotar in his remarks recognised the contribution of small and medium enterprises to the country’s development. He outlined that while major businesses and investments are essential pull factors to develop the economy, the sustainability of economy progress in any society is indirectly linked to the development of the small and medium enterprises.
The President went on to urge small business operators to realise their full potential and expand their businesses. He stressed that many big businesses started out small and anticipate the current small businesses will follow suit. “Many, I hope, will have the potential to grow up to become large businesses as well within the society and new small ones will be able to develop,” the President noted.
Ramotar continued by saying that initiatives such as the Micro and Small Enterprise Development Project are often confined to the urban areas of the country, as such, he called on the project coordinators to take the programme to outlining regions of the country so that those citizens there can also benefit from the grant.
He continued by highlighting that in the Rupununi region, the villagers built a ranch with grants that they received and are planning to start farming activities in the future. Ideas such as these, he noted, help small businesses to grow and provide service to the country.
In the meanwhile, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the Deeds Registry, National Insurance Scheme, Guyana Revenue Authority, Republic Bank Ltd, Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry and Guyana Small Business Association to facilitate small businesses benefiting from partnership arrangements and formal business economy.
This was done since most small businesses operate on a ‘cash in hand’ basis and are not legally formalised which often poses difficulties for them to access capital. To date, over 900 persons have benefited from training under the project while 167 jobs have been created and sustained.
One of the recipients of the grant, Phulwatie Gururam, expressed her gratitude for the grant, noting that it will benefit her in her poultry business. The Number Two Village, West Coast Berbice, resident said she has been operating on a small scale for several years and with the grant she will now be able to expand her business.
Another recipient, Brantley Devair, also reiterated similar sentiments, saying that he never expected to get through with the grant but now that he has, it will significantly improve his standard of living. “I happy I got the opportunity because so many people who need it didn’t get the opportunity. I know this is a good improvement for me to enlarge my business and improve my livelihood,” he stated. Devair, who is in the fishing industry and hails from Siparuta, Corentyne River, added that Government should continue this project since there are many more persons who are in need of this grant to further develop their businesses.