This Is How GBTI Green Loans Are Transforming Guyana’s Economy

The largest commercial lender to work with Guyana’s agricultural sector to date, Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) has also built a strong green loans program to help businesses throughout the country.

Like all GBTI loans, green loans center on creating trusted partnerships between the bank’s experienced credit advisors and clients throughout the business community. 

A forward-looking loan policy

Financing through GBTI green loans is available for businesses interested in the following:

  • Alternative energy projects
  • The development of hybrid motor vehicles
  • Water-treatment, filtration, and recycling products
  • Energy-saving appliances
  • Low-carbon emission agriculture projects such as aquaculture

The many benefits of a GBTI loan include competitive interest rates, discounts on certain lending services, and a quick turnaround for the approval process. Additionally, certain GBTI loans are eligible for one- to six-month moratoriums on installment payments. 

The bank’s commitment to helping build a strong green infrastructure is in keeping with that of the Guyanese government, which has placed the development of a green economy at the heart of its infrastructure planning.

A new vision for sustainable growth

In 2019 President David Granger announced the launch of the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) Vision 2040, a 20-year strategic planning document that encapsulates the steps Guyana will take toward creating an inclusive green economy and social system within its borders.

This vision of the country’s development focuses on protecting precious environmental resources and improving opportunities for all citizens to attain education, security, and prosperity within a just and equitable society. 

growth

Granger’s remarks upon presenting the document to the public are instructive for understanding Guyana’s commitment to large-scale changes. He noted that climate change has become an incontestable reality for every nation on earth, with none capable of avoiding its deleterious effects. 

Granger said that the time has come for Guyana to seize the moment, allowing the country to get ahead of the problem and begin to solve generational challenges. Its geography, in particular, presents several obstacles, including cycles of flood and drought in the hinterlands, as well as regular coastal flooding. Guyanese industry, the president noted, is already beginning to experience success in addressing issues of air and water quality.

The priorities of the GSDS concentrate on the diversification and transformation of the nation’s economy, investment in people through wide-ranging educational programs and job skills development, prudent management and effective oversight of the use of natural resources, and a balance between economic development and conservation for the benefit of everyone. 

The benefits of international participation

As part of its commitment to creating a strong green economy, Guyana became a member of the Partnership for Action on Green Economy, or PAGE, in 2017. A project of the United Nations, PAGE brings together the resources of five UN agencies concerned with labor, environment, industry, and research to support countries working toward building green, sustainable, and inclusive economies. 

PAGE was developed in response to Rio+ 20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. PAGE’s ultimate goal is to assist countries with reforming their economic policies regarding sustainability and developing business collaborations and models that will promote increased investment in green technologies and untapped resources of human potential.

Guyana expects that its ongoing participation in PAGE will continue to inform the roll-out of its Green State Development Strategy over the coming decades. In fact, Guyana’s participation in sustainability efforts such as climate resilience and low-carbon initiatives has influenced much of the GSDS document. 

Maintaining sustainability for the long term

The GSDS document additionally leverages the provisions of the 2019 Natural Resource Fund Act to finance its program of sustainable development. President Granger has emphasized that revenues from Guyana’s rapidly developing oil and natural gas industry are slated for wise investments designed to help the country avoid “Dutch disease.” This is the problem that can result when a country’s currency value spikes amid sudden success in one industry, paradoxically harming other sectors of the economy and bringing on a concomitant crash.

In 2019 the International Monetary Fund noted that Guyana could potentially realize economic growth of about 86 percent in 2020, which could put it in first place worldwide in terms of economic expansion (largely due to the discovery of its first commercially viable oil and gas deposits in 2015).

While global economic shifts associated with the coronavirus pandemic have made this outcome more problematic, Guyana’s status as a new petroleum exporter has raised its overall economic prospects. The country, with a population of under 800,000 people, is estimated to possess the world’s highest amount of oil reserves per capita—3,900 barrels per person in comparison to Saudi Arabia’s 1,900. 

Along with its approach to prudent investment strategies amid a rocky world economy, Guyana is focusing on teaching its younger generations about environmental issues. Eventually, the government hopes, they will develop the knowledge that will help the entire country make its dream of prosperity and sustainability a reality.

This Is Why Guyanese Businesses Are Going Green

Guyanese citizens are well aware of the country’s push to protect the environment against the ravages of climate change and to create a sustainable future. If you are a business owner, you have most likely been paying close attention to the ongoing media coverage of government and private sector discussions and plans to reduce Guyana’s carbon footprint. Whether you are a new entrepreneur or an experienced business executive, you are probably asking yourself “What does this mean for me?” The following is a look at some of the advantages of going green and the current momentum in Guyana, as well as how GBTI is helping the cause.

Benefits of going green

solar panels

While it there are some initial costs associated with launching a company that is sustainable or switching to green practices, the benefits far outweigh the costs. Certainly, there may be a financial outlay at the beginning, but there is money to be saved over the long term. As an example, purchasing energy-saving equipment or machinery will save on utility costs. Marketing your firm as an environmentally responsible business will also inspire loyalty in your customers. They will respect you for doing your part to take care of the planet. In addition, you will attract new clients who are looking to purchase merchandise or services from a green company. Your employees will also feel proud to be working for such a forward-thinking firm. Finally, with the increased focus on sustainability, government policy and legislation are slowly changing—not only in Guyana, but in other countries, too. Going green positions your enterprise to be in compliance when the rules change—whether domestic or offshore—and to serve as a leader in the marketplace.

Momentum in Guyana

Guyana has been at the forefront of developing a green economy for a number of years. It began in 2009, in partnership with the country of Norway, with the “Low Carbon Development Strategy: Transforming Guyana’s Economy While Combating Climate Change (LCDS)”. The goal of the LCDS was “to transform Guyana’s economy to a low carbon, sustainable development trajectory, while simultaneously combating climate change”. The idea was to demonstrate that protecting the environment and combatting deforestation would lead to commercial benefits for all Guyanese companies. In recent years, the government has launched the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) “to reorient and diversify Guyana’s economy, reducing reliance on traditional sectors and opening up new sustainable income and investment opportunities.” In response, the Ministry of Business has begun crafting the Green Business Framework that will, in part, focus on guiding Guyanese companies toward sustainable practices.

As some people may already be aware, in the last few years more educational and networking opportunities have become available for Guyanese business owners with an interest in the green economy. In 2018, Georgetown hosted the first Green Expo and International Small Business Summit under the banner “Sustainable economic growth through small business innovation entrepreneurship and transformative government policies.” The event provided small business owners with a platform to showcase their innovative products, which are designed to provide green solutions.

Guyana’s capital city was the site of another important business networking event in 2019 to celebrate Guyana Green Economy Week. Government representatives from the Ministry of Business, Ministry of Finance, and the Guyana Revenue Authority collaborated with others from the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce, several United Nations organizations with a mandate to promote environmental sustainability, the private sector, civil society organizations, research institutes, and more. Participants had an opportunity to learn and share knowledge through a variety of workshops. Green Economy Week culminated in a public conversation with international experts from the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) offering examples of where sustainability has worked with appropriate “green” economic principles in place.

GBTI offers support

Small- and medium-sized companies require some funding in order to help them to realize their vision of building a sustainable enterprise. GBTI works alongside government and private sector initiatives to help green businesses. Its credit advisers provide critical financial assistance to clients through GBTI’s green loans program to enable them to implement changes in order to make their enterprises more green. This can include initiatives such as switching to solar power, recycling and treating water with filtration systems, purchasing hybrid motor vehicles or energy-saving appliances, upgrading air filtration systems, or embarking on various wind- or hand-powered projects. Furthermore, GBTI offers competitive interest rates, fast approvals, no late payment fees, no prepayment penalties, and other benefits.

As the evidence suggests, Guyana is becoming a fine example to other nations of how to move toward environmental sustainability, and it is definitely poised to be a leader in the green economy. Many entrepreneurs are recognizing the benefits of going green and engaging with the groundswell of support for Guyanese companies.

GBTI’s Microlending Program – Part of a Global Movement to End Poverty

One of the Caribbean region’s leading commercial banks, GBTI offers a full range of services for individual and business customers. The bank’s microloan program for small business owners, for instance, emphasizes assistance to single mothers hoping to build their own companies. 

Microlending for single mothers changes lives

Through GBTI’s Women of Worth microlending program, thousands of female entrepreneurs have received the funding they needed to build businesses and gain independence for themselves and their families.

baby and mother

GBTI has earmarked GYD 500 million (USD 2.4 million) to support this program, with the no-collateral loans administered through Guyana’s Ministry of Human Services. Single mothers who qualify to participate in the program can receive up to GYD 250,000 (USD 1,200) to start or grow their business. 

The standard interest rate for a Women of Worth microloan is 6 percent, with a two-year repayment period. To leave women free to concentrate on getting their businesses off the ground, there is a three- to six-month grace period before the first installment payments are due. 

Building businesses in multiple sectors

Many women participating in the microlending program have started farms, which often help them turn the subsistence farming they were already doing into viable, money-making enterprises. Loan recipients have also been able to purchase and cultivate additional land as their agricultural businesses have scaled.

And it’s not just farming—female entrepreneurs have used the Women of Worth program’s microloans to build out small restaurants and hospitality and personal service businesses. They have also been able to start or expand childcare businesses by renting additional space and hiring more employees. 

The growth of an idea

Microlending, in the form familiar to global markets today, was pioneered by Nobel Peace Prize-winning Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus, often called the “Banker to the Poor.” Yunus established the Grameen Bank Project in the mid-1970s to study how non-exploitative bank loans could be made available to help people in Bangladesh lift themselves out of poverty. 

work

Yunus’ initial loan was for $27 to a group of female weavers making stools out of bamboo. Previous lenders’ unscrupulous practices resulted in only a 1-penny profit per stool going to the women. Because of the microloan Yunus provided, the women were able to purchase their own supplies and begin a thriving business, repaying the microloan when they began to succeed. 

Over the decades, the World Bank and other policy institutions have conducted independent research demonstrating the success of the microloan model. Other financial institutions began to follow Grameen Bank’s lead.

In recent years, microlending has become commonplace in the financial industry, with tens of thousands of these programs available all over the world. Also, the growth of the Internet as a source of peer-to-peer communication has boosted the popularity of peer-to-peer microlending through nonprofit platforms. 

The practice of microlending became so widely accepted that the United Nations designated 2005 as the International Year of Microcredit. Then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that microlending had demonstrated its value as a “weapon against poverty and hunger,” able to help struggling people around the world improve their lives over the long term. 

An answer to the needs of a developing world

Microlending has shown itself to be particularly well suited to answering the financial needs of the developing world. People who had previously been unable to access traditional banking services due to lack of collateral, poor or non-existent credit, or for other reasons now have access to the financial services that can help them become independent. Studies of microlending also show a traditionally high rate of repayment. 

Before the advent of larger-scale microlending supported by banks and international organizations, people hoping to establish a small business in a developing country could only turn to small community organizations and agencies such as credit unions, member-run mutual aid societies, or postal banks.

Due to a lack of size and resources, however, organizations of this type were limited in their ability to build a microlending infrastructure and help larger numbers of people. For example, due to technical constraints, they were less able to analyze for risk assessment of micro-enterprises and to deliver the full range of needed support services cost effectively. This is where established banks, such as GBTI, have emerged as major sources of microfunding.

Experts have recently pointed to the need for more funding and support for small business entrepreneurship in the developing world, among youth in particular. Young adults in Guyana have a strong role to play in their nation’s economy, with close to half the population now under the age of 24. Yet, to date, a relatively low percentage of younger adults have taken advantage of microlending programs.

GBTI, as a government partner and now one of Guyana’s leading microlenders, continues to focus on building and promoting its capacity to fund entrepreneurship through the Women of Worth program.

GBTI Women of Worth microloans are available to applicants between 18 and 60, and they can supply a life-changing amount of capital that will not only build a young mother’s future but, through her success, can contribute to sustaining the long-range economic prospects of the entire nation as well.

What You Need to Know about the Importance of Guyana’s Agriculture to the Caribbean

Guyanese farmers play a critical role in supplying produce to the entire Caribbean region. Because it grows a huge amount of sugar and rice, the country is often called the breadbasket of this part of the world. GBTI’s position as the largest lender to the agricultural industry in Guyana gives it the honor of being part of this important business.

At GBTI, we proud to work closely with our clients through the GBTI agricultural loans program. Our banking officers take a genuine interest in assisting agricultural entrepreneurs with all aspects of financing and related needs. Here is some interesting information GBTI can offer about food production in Guyana.

Agricultural Expertise in Guyana

Guyanese farmers have hundreds of years of agricultural experience. This includes not only growing a diverse range of cash crops and cane farming, but also expertise with livestock, poultry and aquaculture. This has allowed the country to be quite self-sufficient when it comes to food production and to develop a thriving export market as well. Over the years, agricultural products have included cocoa, coffee, coconut, copra, vegetables, fruit, and tobacco.

Only about 5 percent of Guyana is suitable for crop cultivation. However, impressively, this relatively small coastal plain area has supported a thriving agricultural industry and been a prime contributor to the country’s economy. GBTI works with many farmers who grow their produce in the rich fertile soil of this region.

Since the land suitable for cultivation is actually below sea level (1 meter below sea level even at high-tide, in fact) farms are protected from encroaching water with a system of dams and dikes. This can definitely make agriculture more challenging. Also, the cost of safeguarding the land and any potential expansion of farms can be quite costly, often making a partnership with GBTI invaluable to the success of these enterprising farmers.

Rice Farming in Guyana

Rice has long been a staple in diets throughout the Caribbean region and beyond. In Guyana, this versatile foodstuff is grown for the domestic market. It is also one of the main agricultural exports to neighboring Caribbean countries and even buyers further afield.

rice

Rice farming is not for the faint of heart. Over the decades, rice production has been impacted by inconsistent weather patterns bringing both droughts and heavy rains. This can certainly affect not only the capacity to produce sufficient large crops, but also the financial resources of farming operations. One crucial mitigation is to have in place is well-maintained irrigation and drainage systems.

Today the majority of rice farming is carried out on small privately- or family-owned properties. In addition, mill operations that farmers rely on are mainly privately-owned. Rice milling is an important step in the post-production process to ensure an edible product free of impurities and ready for consumption.

GBTI supports rice farmers and millers alike with financing for their individual business needs. This includes loans for buying land, machinery and equipment, paddy fields, fertilizer and fuel and lubricants.

Sugarcane Agriculture in Guyana

Another prominent crop that Guyana is known for is sugar. Like rice, this product is consumed in great quantities in the country itself and much of it is sold throughout the Caribbean. Sugar production depends on somewhat larger scale operations, many of which use to be privately-owned.

sugarcane

However, in the mid-1970s, the Guyanese government got involved in managing this crop via plantations on state-owned land. For a variety of reasons, this led to a reduction in production. When a combination of droughts, floods and diseases in the 1980s impacted a large portion of the sugarcane crop, farmers began growing a more disease-resistant variety that further reduced output.

In recent years, when the guaranteed price of sugar fell, the government restructured the sugar industry to increase profitability by closing down large government-run sugar estates and privatizing the industry once again. Cane farming is one of the agricultural businesses that GBTI provides considerable assistance to. Having a reliable bank with a wide range of financing products and an in-depth knowledge of the agricultural sector is a huge benefit to sugar producers.

The Future of Rice and Sugar in Guyana

Rice and sugar continue to figure prominently in Guyana’s overall export market. In recent years, Guyanese farmers have seen an increase in profits from rice exports. Despite some challenges, sugarcane farming has once again become profitable, given the country’s place as the largest sugar producer in the Caribbean.

Significantly, the agriculture sector employs 30 percent of Guyana’s workforce and makes up one-third of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). While the cultivation of non-traditional products is on the rise and these goods are also being sold throughout the Caribbean, the country continues to be known for its rice and sugar production.

GBTI is grateful for the privilege of contributing to these worthy agricultural enterprises.

This Is What You Need to Know about GBTI’s Response to COVID-19

Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI), one of the Caribbean region’s largest financial institutions, offers a full range of loans, microloans, and other services for individual entrepreneurs and organizations. Currently, the bank is prioritizing the safety and wellbeing of staff and customers during the current coronavirus pandemic.

To help contain the spread of the virus that causes the potentially serious disease COVID-19, GBTI has instituted a number of protective measures that cover activities in all its bank branches and over a range of transaction types. This is what you need to know about how GBTI is helping its customers during the pandemic:

GBTI Is Increasing Online Access

online access

GBTI has informed its customers that they are now able to handle their transactions free of point-of-sale fees and automated teller machine charges. The bank has also increased its daily limits on ATM transactions. Finally, it is urging customers to use its high-quality online services—including a sophisticated array of mobile banking options—in place of handling transactions in person whenever possible. 

GBTI Is Supporting Public Safety

In addition, GBTI has boosted existing safety procedures in brick-and-mortar locations. For example, staff at each bank branch now follow additional requirements for cleaning high-traffic surfaces. And at multiple service points in its locations, GBTI has displayed print notices and enabled video animations offering information on safety in public places during the pandemic.

In addition, the bank has decreased hours of operation at its branches. As of June 1, 2020, GBTI’s in-person banking locations will be open from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. GBTI aims to reduce its team’s work hours on-site as well. Finally, it supports the Guyana Association of Bankers’ recommendations on necessary social distancing for those who are at work.

GBTI Is Offering Loan Flexibility

GBTI remains committed to serving the needs of the business community during this crisis. Beginning March 26, and for up to six months thereafter, the bank is offering waivers of late-fee charges for credit card and loan payments. It is also offering waivers of penalty interest associated with loans, and is waiving penalties that would have accrued on the early withdrawal of funds from term deposits. 

Customers in good standing are now also able to request a variety of loan- and debt-restructuring options, including lower interest rates and deferred payment plans.

Guyana Has Found Evidence of Community Transmission

In mid-May, the country’s chief medical team noted that community transmission of the coronavirus was evident, with significant numbers of new cases reported over the previous two-week period. At that point, more than 1,000 people living in Guyana had been tested.

One-third of those who tested positive for the virus were asymptomatic, meaning that they did not display any of the known symptoms of COVID-19. As the WHO points out, people who have contracted the virus and are asymptomatic are still able to shed the virus and transmit it to others. As of June 5, Guyana had documented only 153 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 12 deaths from the disease.

While the relatively low numbers can seem encouraging, world health experts point out that statistics from many countries in the developing world may be limited, and thus may not reflect the actual situation on the ground. While countries such as South Korea may be able to deploy extensive systems for testing and record-keeping, the developing world’s options are far less extensive.

Guyana Is Working to Improve Its Medical Infrastructure

medication

Developing nations, including those in South America and the Caribbean, lack the medical infrastructure to quickly and accurately process coronavirus tests on a large scale. Additionally, they are often unable to provide adequate treatment and care for people who become infected.

For global public health experts, the big concern is that the developing world might see a surge of coronavirus cases at a time when it can marshal the least amount of resources to address the problem. Guyana’s Ministry of Public Health is working to overcome such challenges. For example, the ministry is supporting the development of a mobile app designed to help control the spread of the disease and offer information to the public. 

Guyana’s government health team is currently working to bolster the country’s healthcare system in order to prepare for the long-term effects of COVID-19 on its society and economy. Part of this plan involves establishing mobile medical units in a number of locations, as part of a thoroughgoing network of services available to people living in all ten administrative regions.

Guyana Is Encouraging Individuals to Quarantine and Isolate as Appropriate

Workers in Guyana’s mining industry, who may be traveling from coastal areas into the interior, are especially encouraged to ask for medical help if they feel they have any of the symptoms of COVID-19. Miners already on site in the interior who experience symptoms should isolate in place, and should get into immediate contact with local medical professionals.

The country’s deputy chief medical officer continues to emphasize the importance of compliance with proper quarantine and isolation procedures. Everyone in the country should be prepared to put the health and safety of their loved ones and fellow citizens first, and act with a sense of public responsibility. 

Sadly, about seven dozen Guyanese living abroad in the United States and the United Kingdom have already died as a result of COVID-19. Guyanese expats who have lost their lives to the disease include prominent business executives, political consultants, and public workers. The New York-based consulate of Guyana has listed names and posted tributes online. 

How to Build a Customer Base for Your Small Business

At GBTI, our Small Business Bureau has helped many companies in Guyana get started with a loan program that is matched to their specific business requirements. GBTI’s role is to understand the type of enterprise you are launching so that we can provide the best financial support. Doing well as a small business owner is all about meeting the needs of your customers. Many small business clients have offered some valuable insights about how to build a customer base. Read on to learn more.

Show enthusiasm

Do you have beautiful merchandise to sell? Do you love telling potential customers about your service? If you are in business for yourself, you most certainly believe in the value of what you are engaged in. Emotions are contagious, and enthusiasm is no exception. Sharing the passion you have for your company, including the story of why you became an entrepreneur, allows customers to feel more connected and invested in doing business with you.

Use a personal touch

personal touch agreement

Now that your clients know a little about you and your company, make a sincere effort to get to know each of them on an individual level. Address them by their name to show respect and encourage trust. With repeat customers, it is especially important to recognize them and welcome them back. People who feel appreciated will return time and again to buy your wares or hire your services.

Provide a unique product

There may be people in your community who are doing the same work that you are or offering a similar product. Think about what makes your enterprise stand out from the others. Do you take custom orders? Is there something extra that you include when you provide a service? That unique aspect of your business will help distinguish you from your competitors and attract more clients.

Be curious

Take a look at what is going on in your community and elsewhere to see what the new business trends are. Maybe there is something that you can apply in your enterprise to encourage new customers, or perhaps seeing what others are doing will help you to generate your own ideas. Knowing what actions different companies are taking to please their clients is always beneficial.

Offer rewards

There are numerous ways you can reward your customers. For example, you can acknowledge repeat clients by giving discounts when they have done a certain amount of business with you. On the other hand, you could decide to include a small free item with their order as a token of what their ongoing support means to you.

Ask for feedback

feedback

One of the very best ways to ensure that you are meeting the needs of your clients is to ask them. Although all indications may be that business is going well and customers are content, you may gain some critical information that can assist you in enhancing your service and reaching more prospective consumers. Even if you don’t learn anything new, showing interest in your clients inspires their loyalty.

Nurture your reputation

Expect that your reputation as an entrepreneur will precede you. If people enjoy your merchandise or the service you deliver, the word will quickly get out in the marketplace. Likewise, if they are unhappy with a transaction, they will not hesitate to tell others. It is the disgruntled customers that you must pay special attention to. While you may feel that you have done everything right, it is worth a lot to your business to act quickly and deal with any complaints.

Encourage referrals

You will likely have a few referrals to your company from others who like your product or service. Rather than wait for this to happen, encourage referrals by asking your customers directly to refer their family and friends to you. Think also about business people you network with or those whose businesses you frequent. These also offer opportunities for referrals to your enterprise. For instance, you could suggest to a company that you will refer your clients to them if they reciprocate.

Celebrate success

Take time to celebrate the success of your enterprise—not only with your staff and customers but publicly as well. This could involve a media announcement, an open house at your workplace, or another event. Showing that your company is thriving will help people take notice and bring in more business.

Building a solid customer base takes time. However, by using these tips, you will steadily acquire many satisfied customers.

GBTI staff donates 25 units of blood in annual blood drive

GBTI on Thursday, June 18, 2020 held its annual blood drive at its Water Street Branch garnering 25 units of blood, all donated by staff of its Georgetown Branches.

It was the eight year that the blood drive was held in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health/National Blood Transfusion Service to coincide with the observance of World Blood Donor Day on June 14.

Water Street Branch Manager, Mrs Juanita Persaud, said the Bank decided to proceed with the activity as it sees it as a Corporate Social Responsibility and the necessary health and safety COVID19 precautions were in place and practised.

“For a while we wanted to postpone the activity, but we saw the calls by the blood bank for blood especially during this time and we wanted to make a contribution. we are happy we heeded the call. The staff responded well, as usual and we wish to thank them for donating so selflessly,” she said.

Among those donating were veteran donors Christopher Mackintosh, Christine Chin-Kanhai, Esther Marville, Yuvraj Bhagwandeen, Adeeb Bacchus, Mercedes Low-Koon, Sherisha Adams, Godwin Fernandes and Mahendra Deonarine. Among the first time donors were, Susan Ghanie, Raneesha Ramnanan, Mickelo Dodson and Scott Johnson.

“I always wanted to donate, I always wanted to feel what it is like,” Ghanie said.

Dodson echoed similar sentiments while Ramnanan who was eager but fearful said, “It was a good feeling and a wonderful experience. I would definitely be donating again.”

The Bank expresses its gratitude to the staff and to its partnership with the National Blood Transfusion Service and the Ministry of Public Health.

Spotlight on Guyana’s Agriculture Industry – What You Need to Know

The Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) based in Georgetown has achieved a prominent place among the Caribbean’s leading financial institutions. The bank puts its focus on programs that help customers—and the country’s overall economy—to stay productive and achieve their financial goals.

GBTI has established itself as a strong supporter of the country’s agriculture industry. The bank is, in fact, the largest lender to this segment of the economy. GBTI’s many business lending opportunities include corporate and manufacturing loans as well as agricultural loans designed to help farmers increase cultivation, enhance production facilities and equipment, and build out their independent business structures. 

The types of agricultural loans available cover livestock and poultry farming, shrimp farming and other aquaculture sectors, cane farming, and cash crops. The bank also offers a special type of rice loan created to address the needs of that market. Here’s what you need to know about agriculture in Guyana:

It is a major regional exporter.

Guyana’s current agricultural goals include continuing its development as a “breadbasket of the Caribbean.” It maintains a strong performance in terms of exports to the United States and to its fellow Caribbean countries. 

rice

For example, as one of the only two rice-exporting nations in the Caribbean Forum, it supplies large amounts of the staple crop to Jamaica as well as Trinidad and Tobago. Additionally, the presence of a large Guyanese expat community in nations such as Antigua translates into a strong market for crops like watermelon and pumpkin, and for the country’s pepper sauce. This distinctive sauce, popular throughout the region, is usually made from wiri wiri peppers (also called cherry peppers). 

It once relied on slave labor.

The history of Guyana’s land use and its agricultural sector is marked by its transition from a colonialist to a modern economy. The original European settlers were the Dutch, who in the 1600s built canals and dikes similar to those in the Netherlands. Much of this infrastructure survived into the 1990s.

The Dutch West India Company also subdivided the land into large tracts that settlers then expanded inward while clearing swamplands. The sugar plantations that became the backbone of the country’s economy were established at this time. By the year 1800, close to 400 sugar estates had grown up along the seacoast. 

In 1814, the Netherlands ceded Guyana to the United Kingdom. The nation continued a similar type of plantation organization and continued to exploit the labor of people who were enslaved. After emancipation in 1838, almost all former slaves fled the plantations. Some purchased plantations for themselves, but lacked the working capital needed to sustain the enterprise. Most ended up practicing subsistence farming.

Its agricultural industry was privatized in the late 1990s.

European plantation owners began bringing large numbers of East Indian indentured laborers into the colony to work the plantations. After completing their terms of indenture, many stayed on in Guyana as independent rice farmers. 

The country was administered as a colony of the United Kingdom until 1953, when it entered into home rule. Until the 1950s, a plantation type of economy continued to be the significant pattern for agricultural development in Guyana. And for decades after the country achieved independence from the UK in 1966, its economy remained dependent on mining and agriculture—particularly on the production of bauxite and sugarcane—produced under a similar economic structure. 

A privatization program reorganized the economy in the 1990s. Guyana had previously managed about four-fifths of its agricultural production under a nationalized system. The early years of the 21st century were characterized by the steady flow of foreign investment into the country’s agriculture industry.

It is due for an infrastructure overhaul and other modernization efforts.

Today, Guyana requires increased investment and development in its agriculture-supporting infrastructure. The existing system of dikes and dams along the coastal plain, where most of the arable farmlands are situated, is long overdue for an upgrade. This is estimated to become a major upcoming expense on the country’s balance sheets.

Additionally, the country will need to pay increasing attention to diversifying its crops, building up an enhanced value chain, and strengthening connections between farmers and markets. Beyond the below-sea level coastal agricultural lands, Guyana’s interior consists of a large hinterland forest that stands on untillable white sands and a highland savanna that is well-adapted to ranching. 

It produces a variety of plant-based crops.

Sugar and rice have historically been the country’s main crops—sugar largely for export, and rice often largely for domestic consumption. However, production of these crops began decreasing after the country attained independence. Regardless, Guyana is still a leader among Caribbean nations in terms of sugarcane production.

sugarcane

Other cash crops cultivated extensively in Guyana include cocoa, bananas, vegetables, citrus, coffee, coconut, and tobacco. All of these products have also undergone periods of low and high demand cycles. In addition to rice, food crops for domestic use include corn and cassava. 

It also produces a variety of seafood.

The country is a major exporter of shrimp. In the past decade, its shrimp and prawn harvest has become a strong presence in global markets. The seafood industry as a whole has become a breakout star among Guyana’s exports, with well over half the nation’s catch ending up on foreign plates in recent years.

A report from early 2018 showed seafood in third place in terms of its contribution to Guyana’s gross domestic product, topped only by gold and bauxite. The fishing industry supports about 15,000 jobs.

It is also home to many small family farms.

In addition to its corporate agricultural sector, Guyana is home to many small farmers along the coast. These family farms continue to engage in farming and livestock-raising, particularly of chickens and smaller animals. Typically, a family eats what it raises and sells any surplus to add to its income. Peasant farmers’ staple crops include rice, tomatoes, yams, peppers, and legumes.

Business loans targeted to a range of agricultural enterprises are available through GBTI’s lending program. More information can be found at GBTIBank.com.

What You Need to Know about Empowering Women to be Entrepreneurs

Have you always wanted to be your own boss? If you are excited by the dream of selling a particular product or providing a necessary service, you likely have what it takes to start your own business.

Furthermore, when jobs are scarce, using your talents to create an income for yourself and your family is very gratifying. GBTI rewards savers and works with many successful female entrepreneurs. If you are a woman who wants to empower yourself to become an entrepreneur, here is what you need to know:

Seek Financing

It is hard to launch a company when money is tight. GBTI supports women entrepreneurs in Guyana. For example, its Women of Worth Loan Facility supports women who are single parents with financing to open their own small businesses.

The program provides loans up to $250,000 at 6 percent interest, payable over 24 months. It operates in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Protection, and applicants are required to first register with the ministry’s Single Parent Registry.

Have a Vision

All business ventures start with an idea. Is there something that you are passionate about? What skillset do you have that others might pay for?

startup plan

Maybe you are an expert dressmaker who has always made handsome clothing for yourself and your children. Perhaps you raise poultry, can offer childcare or are admired for your hairdressing skills. Whatever you can turn your hand to, think about how it can add value in your community.

Work Hard

GBTI knows that running a business is hard work. It will come as no surprise that an entrepreneur’s success depends on how much time and energy is put into the endeavor.

Hard workers who do their best to satisfy customers build a solid reputation. Constantly looking for ways to improve what the business offers can help grow the business and attract new clients.

Develop a Strong Support System

Every entrepreneur needs a strong support system. Your GBTI loans officer is certainly a valuable part of this. Think about additional supports that you have or may need. You probably have friends and family members that want your company to do well.

It can also be valuable to reach out and make connections with other business women. Networking and learning from others can generate enthusiasm and expose you to new ideas. Additionally, you may find a mentor who is interested in giving you their time and advice.

Be Persistent

Persistence is key when it comes to running a company—whatever comes your way. Conditions in communities can change and economic conditions are often unpredictable. Being in charge can sometimes feel overwhelming if there are fewer customers and business income is reduced.

persistant work

It is very important not to get discouraged during difficult times. Assess what is in your control and what is not. Then, decide what can be done to improve the situation. Reframe any failure as a learning opportunity. By doing this, you will feel more empowered to move forward and make whatever adjustments are necessary in order to reach your goals.

During difficult times, reimagining your products or services might be one way to make some gains. For example, would extending your business hours or bringing your product to a new market be beneficial?

Have Patience

Building a business takes time. Keep in mind that you may need to adjust your expectations, if you had anticipated that your company would expand and be profitable relatively quickly. You are putting a lot of effort into your enterprise, so have some compassion for yourself and recognize that you are doing all that you can in the circumstances.

Engage in Long-Term Planning

Any new enterprise needs a detailed business plan to start with. Business plans help entrepreneurs sort out exactly what the company will do, how the product will be designed and produced or what service will be offered, what financial and human resources are necessary and how success will be defined.

Many times, the early stages are somewhat obvious. However, considering the long term can be more challenging. There are many unknowns involved. Therefore, it is critical to think ahead and do some planning.

Where do you see the company in five years, 10 years and beyond? What goals do you have and how will they carry you into the future? After all, your business is your livelihood. You want to be sure that it is sustainable.

With some proper planning, the right tools, hard work, and perseverance, working for yourself can be immensely satisfying.

The new normal : Cashless is Queen!

Meeting the Demand of the new normal – Justin Nedd – 5 minutes
Online ordering for curbside pickups and deliveries; Cashless is Queen
The Role of MMG –  Bobita Ram, GM of MMG – 5 minutes
Facilitating Collaborations and Tailored Solutions –  Bobita to lead this discussion
GBTI – Pamela Binda– 5 minutes
Hero Carts – 5 minutes
Open Conversation – 5 minutes led by Eshwar
Total Time – 1/2 hour ; Date : Thursday June 11, 2020 at 4pm

Watch Here