GBTI maintains a number of unique lending programs to help people in Guyana. One of these programs is specifically designed to benefit small business owners in Guyana as they create ventures that can support their families and foster growth in their communities. Recently, Guyana has spearheaded new initiatives to help small business owners, such as the Belvedere Business Incubator Center, which opened in February 2020. This facility is designed to reinforce strong entrepreneurial skills and serve as an educational center where business owners can obtain direct, practical support.
A Look at the Belvedere Business Incubator Center
The new Belvedere Business Incubator Center includes six distinct pods. The first three pods are reserved for entrepreneurs to participate in a three-year training program to support inexperienced entrepreneurs. Once they graduate from the program, other people can enroll and obtain the same support. The other three pods contain manufacturing equipment that small business owners can use at a subsidized cost to help process products and boost inventory without the need for too much upfront capital. The point of the center is to provide Guyanese entrepreneurs with the support and guidance they need to launch successful companies that continue to thrive without the center’s continued intervention.
Many small business owners in Guyana have already celebrated the opening of this facility, which is helping many people to meet goals that they would otherwise not be able to accomplish. For example, one entrepreneur who creates coconut products stated that he is unable to adequately process his supply at home, but said that it will be possible using the equipment at the facility. Another entrepreneur who sells treats said she looks forward to the training in finance and marketing, which will help her to sell her products more effectively and ensure that she can save for important financial milestones. The center will provide a range of classes and seek to inspire people to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.
How Guyana Could Benefit from a Larger Network of Incubators
Alongside the Berbice facility that opened earlier this year, another one is already being constructed and developed in Lethem that is expected to open in the near future. Such facilities are extremely important for Guyana, as entrepreneurship is challenging regardless of the physical location. The Caribbean provides its own unique challenges. In Guyana, the space for home startups is quite limited, yet renting space for a business can prove to be an insurmountable financial hurdle. Incubators like the ones being opened provide a solution to this problem and offer additional support to ensure that the businesses being launched are successful. Many people who wish to start companies may not have the business training needed to make the process efficient and cost-effective, yet an incubator can provide this sort of assistance.
Incubators tend to closely examine the communities that they serve in order to understand more fully the particular challenges of starting a company in that location. To that end, incubators can prove even more helpful than typical business courses, as they provide localized support and instruction that can respond to changing conditions. In Guyana, there has been a general consensus that the country needs to scale and grow more businesses to boost economic development and participate more fully in global markets. Guyana struggles with a shortage of business mentors. In this sort of environment, the coaching and networking facilitated by incubators is a great way to produce successful entrepreneurs who can later become mentors.
The Role of Accelerators for Small Businesses in Guyana
While incubators are already opening in Guyana, the country has a limited number of accelerators. An accelerator operates much like an incubator except that the engagement is typically limited to a few months rather than a year. An accelerator is sort of like a jump-start for a business. By participating in an accelerator, entrepreneurs can obtain help on particular issues related to the business, whether that means the business model, avenues for revenue, or professional networking. Accelerators — especially when paired with incubators — can create a large group of business-savvy entrepreneurs who can collectively help new generations of entrepreneurs as mentors.
In Guyana, an ongoing accelerator program has been offered through the World Bank. Known as the Women Innovators Network in the Caribbean, this opportunity is specifically focused on female entrepreneurs. The accelerator works specifically with women who have an established business, but who need to learn how to grow and scale as their companies expand. The program fulfills a key niche need identified in Guyana, yet many more unmet opportunities exist to address the needs of local businesspeople. The community hopes that more accelerators will develop to complement the offerings from the two incubators. If these incubators are successful in facilitating business growth, then a rise in accelerators is the next logical step.