A newly signed memorandum of understanding between development organization Cuso International, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Small Business Bureau and private enterprise GeoTechVision Guyana will promote collaboration between these organizations to establish a business incubator.

Georgetown, August 11, 2016 – Four organisations came together on Thursday, August 11, to officially get Guyana’s first business incubator off the ground.

In an official signing ceremony, Ms. Rajdai Jagarnauth, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Business, Mr. Vishnu Doerga, President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ms. Valrie Grant, Managing Director of GeoTechVision Guyana and Mr. Tariq Williams, Regional Programme Officer for Cuso International, agreed to come together to engage in awareness-raising campaigns, workshops and competitions to help to get Guyana’s first business incubator started.

“I feel very satisfied and pleased that this process is beginning. I would call the signing the start of things to come,” said Cuso International volunteer Patsy Russell. Russell is coordinating the initiative through her placement at the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“It’s a step closer to creating the environment required to help up-and-coming businesses to get the support they need,” Doerga agreed. “In Guyana, for forever, we’ve ended up in a situation where companies had basically to become successful by trial and error,” he said. “It is our intention to have this collaboration raise the level of success that aspiring entrepreneurs are able to achieve.”

Russell added that she felt a public-private partnership was the best way to establish the incubator, especially as the incubator plans to target young entrepreneurs.

“When you do a private [only] incubator in an economy like this – a developing economy with a high level of unemployment especially among young people – a whole segment of the population is left out and will not be able to partake in this process,” Russell explained. “So, by having the private mixed with the public sector as well, more people can be involved in this process of entrepreneurship, thereby reducing poverty, decreasing unemployment, and paving the road towards economic development in the country.”

A business incubator helps to develop start-up businesses and fledging companies by providing them with targeted resources and services.  It addresses many of the problems new businesses face, such as unaffordable workspaces, lack of access to finance or appropriate mentoring.

Permanent Secretary Jagarnauth said this initiative was an important one for Guyana.

“It is important because Guyana’s a small economy and we’re now trying to develop. A large number of our businesses are very small; also we have youth involved that are now trying to hone their entrepreneurial skills. There may be many innovations coming from the youth and we want to give them that start.”

The signed agreement follows the successful seminar put on at the beginning of June that saw more than 150 small business owners learn about business incubation from Caribbean and international experts.

One of those experts is collaboration partner GeoTechVision Guyana. Last year, the World Bank Group InfoDev selected GeoTechVision as a business enabler to provide training and mentorship to other Guyanese companies.

“Being entrepreneurs ourselves and having gone through an incubator ourselves, we figured that this would be an ideal way to contribute to the ecosystem here in Guyana,” said Grant, GeoTechVision’s managing director, adding that being able to work with so many partners on the initiative was special for them.

“We recognize that it takes a village to raise entrepreneurs. We believe in this partnership and in collaborating so that we can inevitably do what we’re supposed to do – help the entrepreneurs,” added Grant.

This initiative is particularly important now, Russell, the initiative’s coordinator said, given the recent world-class oil discovery off the coast of Guyana, especially for young entrepreneurs.

“Because they’ll be lots of spin-off businesses being formed and we as Guyanese have got to be ready to take advantage of all of that business-flow and entrepreneurship that will be coming. If we are not ready other people will definitely come in,” said Russell.

Annie Thériault, Communications, Information and Resource Development Manager, Latin American and the Caribbean