Here Are 6 Key Measures of Success for Small Businesses

GBTI is committed to driving small business growth in Guyana. To do this, the bank offers many loan products, including those specifically meant for small businesses. Entrepreneurs face a number of challenges when it comes to establishing a fledgling company. Because they face so many hurdles, they may neglect to track some of the metrics by which its success can be judged.

No matter how busy you may be with a business, it is essential to take a step back and evaluate its performance as this is the only way you will know whether or not you need to make changes. Without this evaluation, your business may fail before you even notice that something is wrong. Some of the key ways of measuring the success of your business include:

1. Customer growth

An important indicator of success is your company’s ability to attract new customers. While repeat customers are great, you will likely fail if you are not able to attract a steady stream of new customers. Also, new customers are the key to future growth. Be sure to track the number of new customers you get and look at trends over time.

If you the number is falling, perhaps you need to invest more money into marketing. On the other hand, if the number is increasing at a steady rate, this could be an indication that it time to start expanding services Several strategies exist for attracting new customers, such as referral incentives, social media marketing, and other promotions.

2. Number of customers

Keeping track of new customers is not enough. You should also track the overall number of customers to make sure you are retaining them. If this number is falling while the number of new customers grows, then you are failing to retain and you need to figure out why. Reach out to customers and ask what has happened.

Often times, the issue is something you can address easily but only if you understand what the problem is. Try out surveys or questions to get some insight on what is happening. People are most likely to be open and honest when the forum is an anonymous one, so it can be helpful to have various options for feedback. Customers appreciate feeling like their opinions are being heard.

3. Profitability

For many businesses, profitability is the primary measure of success. Ultimately, you started a business to make money, so it is important to make sure you are doing that. However, you need to look at more than just profits. Figure out exactly what numbers are coming in and going out of the business. Also, keep updated balance sheets as this will give you the most comprehensive view of the financial health of your business.

While keeping track of these numbers is important, they need to be put in the context of everything else on this list. Too often, business owners pay attention only to the financial numbers and then they fail to realize they are losing customers until income starts to fall. If you pay attention to the whole picture, you can react to problems before they put the whole business at risk.

4. Customer satisfaction

Getting a strong sense of customer satisfaction can prove difficult because it is qualitative rather than quantitative. However, you should always have a gestalt feeling of what customers think of your business. Imagine a situation in which your sales are robust but then they suddenly drop off precipitously. This happens when customers are dissatisfied but were patronizing you out of necessity.

When another option becomes available, they will seek out that other business. Keeping track of customer satisfaction is the best way to protect yourself from losing clients to competitors. Also, if you ask for feedback and respond appropriately, you demonstrate to customers that you truly care about their experience and build loyalty even if they were dissatisfied at first.

5. Employee satisfaction and performance

Customers are not the only thing that matters to a small business. You should also check in with any employees you have on a regular basis. If your team is dedicated to the company, performance will be high. Think about employees from both a quantitative and qualitative standpoint. Look at the performance numbers, such as number of sales made, but also be sure to ask for feedback.

Often, employees have a different perspective on the success of the company and can give you insights that you may have overlooked. By keeping your employees happy, you increase the chances of enduring success. Also, having a strong relationship with your employees makes it easier to deliver critical feedback, such as someone who may need to improve their performance.

6. How you spend your time

Entrepreneurs often overlook one of the most important aspects of success: how they spend their time. Looking critically at how you spend your days can give you a lot of information about the health of your company. If you are constantly scrambling trying to put out fires, then something is wrong. Perhaps you have failed at delegating or you simply need more help.

A successful business is organized, with a capable staff that can handle responsibility. You should be able to relax from time to time even while you maintain an eye on everything. If this is not the case, you will eventually burn out and the business will suffer. Figure out how to bring on additional staff or begin delegating some responsibilities so that you can focus on management instead of running from problem to problem.

A Quick Guide to Achieve More Sustainable Rice Production Practices

As the agriculture sector in Guyana continues to expand, there has been added pressure to farm sustainably. Guyana has often been called the breadbasket of the Caribbean because of its strong agriculture sector and GBTI is driving this growth with agricultural loans.

One of the major crops in Guyana is rice, which is a staple food for more than half the people in the world and one of the most lucrative crops for small farmers. Unfortunately, rice production accounts for about 10 percent of global methane emission. Additionally, rice production consumes more than a third of irrigation water used in the world.

By embracing sustainable practices, rice farmers can reduce these figures while also improving their yields to boost income. Here’s what you need to know:

Creating the Right Plan Prior to Planting Rice

A sustainable approach to rice farming starts with variety selection. There are more than 40,000 types of rice available for cultivation, so choosing the right one can be overwhelming.

However, farmers will never go wrong by selecting a hybrid that has been locally adopted, especially if healthy seed is available. The best approach is to look at what is available nearby and what has the greatest yield potential rather than trying to reinvent the wheel with new varieties.

In addition, farmers should think about their crop season, including inputs and labor requirements, as they plan for planting. This way, workers can get organized and farmers will have a better idea of the resources available to them.

Once all of this has been done, the next step is actually planting the rice. There are several different approaches to planting rice. Some farmers directly seed their fields, while others may plant rice in seedbeds and transplant starts into the field.

Neither of these practices is inherently better than the other in terms of sustainability. Instead, the right choice will depend in the type of soil farmers have, as well as the local rice ecosystem. Farmers also need to consider availability of physical labor as transplanting rice is much more labor-intensive. However, transplantation may be necessary if the soil or weather conditions are not conducive to direct planting.

Managing the Issues that Arise While Growing Rice

Farmers need to plan ahead for water needs while growing rice. As mentioned above, rice cultivation accounts for much of the world’s water consumption, which is due in part to the fact that the crop is so sensitive to water shortages. Farmers have several options for reducing water needs, which will save them money while also lowering the amount of water they consume.

For examples, farmers should pay close attention to cracks or rat holes in their fields, which can result in increased water absorption. Farmers should also construct bunds. These are specialized embankments meant to keep water around the plants. Well-constructed bunds reduce water loss. Field channels further help farmers control how water flows into and out of the field. In general, farmers should only perform shallow tilling, as this will prevent water losses from soaking into the soil.

Another important issue to consider is soil fertility. Farmers can use mineral or organic fertilizers to boost the productivity of the earth they work with. However, it is important to keep in mind that organic fertilizers mimic the natural composition of soil and do not introduce new minerals to the environment. Considering the amount of water involved in rice production, minimizing mineral runoff is very important.

The other common issue farmers need to deal with is pests, which can reduce crop yields up to 40 percent. To protect their crops from pests, farmers should ensure they choose clean seed, keep their farm equipment clean, and promote the natural enemies of pests on their farms. It is also important to store rice grain properly to keep it safe from pests.

Sustainable Farming Practices During and After Harvest

When farmers utilize the best harvest practices, they can maximize their yields and thus their incomes while ensuring all the resources they used were not wasted. Farmers need to ensure they harvest at the right time. Waiting too long or not long enough will result in a reduced crop. The ideal time to harvest will depend on the type of rice planted, as well as the particular growth conditions.

While this can take some time to determine, speaking to farmers who have experience with the variety of rice you are using and learning the signs that indicate it is time to harvest can help. Keep close track of when you plant and the growth rate of the rice so you can estimate when the harvest should begin. Of course, it is important to base decisions on how plants look and not just the expected timeline.

Once the rice has been harvested, it should go through the threshing process immediately to avoid any spoilage. Threshing is the process that collects rice grains from the plant. Ideally, farmers are able to invest in a threshing machine as this is more efficient than collecting rice by hand, which can leave a lot of the grains behind.

Once the grains have been threshed, they need to be cleaned and dried immediately to avoid spoilage. While this involves a lot of work and long hours around harvest time, it ensures that as much of the crop as possible makes it to people’s plates. As mentioned above, proper storage is also important as pests and mold can quickly ruin an entire crop.

GBTI Rewards 13 children for saving

Thirteen children between the ages of 1 and 17 years who are Early Savers Account Club Members with GBTI have each been rewarded with $5,000.  

The incentive is a reward for children randomly selected from our Early Savers Account Club who would have saved $1,000 or more in 2020. This is part of GBTI’s Annual Early Savers Reward Programme as a means of encouraging children to save and grow with the bank.

We know that 2020 was not an easy year. In spite of the challenges, some of our children managed to save and so we wanted to reward them as a means of encouraging them to keep saving.

The winners this year are Shaun Calder, Water Street Branch;  Elijah Jones, Regent Street Branch; Traevaun Thomas, Corriverton; Shania Ramnarine, Anna Regina; Serena Sookram, Parika; Sherah Dhaniram, Vreed-En-Hoop; Anika De Freitas, Lethem; Deven Jaggernauth, Providence; Akash Maniram, Diamond; Nicandro Williams, Kingston;  Kelly Thomas, Port Kaituma; and Asad Muhammad Chhotay of our Port Mourant Branch.

Winners were notified via direct mail and their accounts have been credited.

GBTI congratulates its 2021 Early Savers winners and all those children and parents who practice a constant saving habit.

GBTI has a special saving category for children from birth to 17 years. Preferential Interest is applied twice per year on accounts with the requisite balance.

Members become eligible for discounts at selected stores across the country, bursary awards at the NGSA level based on random selection and participation in special programmes of the bank such as Summer Camp.

Parents and guardians are simply required to produce the child’s birth certificate/passport along with the parent’s/guardian’s Identification, proof of address, TIN and a minimum of $1,000 to start an Early Savers Account.

New accounts may be initiated online or booked at the various branches between 08:00 and 13:00hrs.   

Use These 5 Tips to Get a Head Start on Marketing Your Small Business

A number of factors go into planning out the launch of a small business, and one of the most important ones to consider is marketing. After all, if you do not market, you will not likely have enough customers to sustain yourself. Marketing for a small business can prove difficult since your budget is likely to be quite limited.

However, it is possible to attract a large number of customers with a relatively small investment provided that you take the right approach. GBTI also offers a wide range of business loans that you can use to help your company grow. Some key tips to keep in mind when it comes to marketing your small business include:

1. Make a strategic plan.

The key to using marketing money effectively is to have a clear plan for your approach. You can approach marketing in several different ways, from online advertising to printed pamphlets. In general, you should use several different approaches depending on your intended audience. Do the research to figure out what works best for businesses in your sector and ask yourself how your particular customers are mostly likely to be reached.

Younger people generally pay most attention to online marketing efforts, but you may need to rely on more traditional formats to reach older customers. Figure out what the competition is doing and whether or not it seems to be working for them. You will need to be somewhat focused in your approach, at least at first, so put in the work to get the most from your investment.

2. Focus on consistent branding.

Perhaps the most important part of marketing a small business is creating a brand. Think about a logo or mascot that can distinguish your brand, as well as the colors and fonts you want associated with it. Once you have defined your brand, you can use it consistently across different marketing platforms. Whether someone sees an Instagram story or a printed mailer, that person should be able to connect it to your company immediately.

Integrated marketing campaigns tend to be the most effective, which means having a consistent appearance and message across various media. Then, when individuals see an advertisement for your company, they already have a sense of what to expect and can embrace more of the message. Consistency is extremely important, especially in the early stages of establishing a company.

3. Focus on what makes you different.

Think of marketing as an argument. You need to convince people that you are the company for them. To do this, you will need to demonstrate what makes you different from the competition. This can prove quite tricky, since blocks of text are unlikely to attract people to an advertisement. Focus on the one or two key points that distinguish you and make them the focal point of any campaign.

Try to get these points across in short statements and graphics rather than long explanations. Do not think too hard about this distinguishing point. Often, it can be the fact that you are a small, local business that understands the needs of a community rather than a larger corporation pushing products. Small businesses often have an advantage because of the personal touches they can put on their marketing that lets people know they are local.

4. Always create an online presence.

Too often, small businesses neglect to create a robust and consistent online presence, which is a huge misstep. Internet searches are ubiquitous and not appearing in these queries puts you at a significant disadvantage. Moreover, creating an online presence is extremely inexpensive. You can create starter accounts on various social media accounts for free and then create your own website using various tools that are both budget- and user-friendly.

Social media is a great way to connect with customers and get feedback while a website is great for providing potential customers with basic information and details about contacting you. As always, brand all of these different outlets consistently so everyone can tell who you are just by looking at the website or profile. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram are great places to start that hit a wide variety of demographics.

5. Start building a mailing list immediately.

Another tool that small business owners can use is physical mail or even emails. However, you will need to have a list of people to send this information to before you can do so. Begin asking for contact information immediately. Link to the mailing list on social media websites and the company’s own site.

To get people interested, you will likely need to offer an incentive, such as a small gift or a discount. Sending coupons through these mailing lists is a great way to get people to sign up and pay attention to messages. Free gifts do not have to be very expensive. For example, you could write a short electronic book or pamphlet about something related to your products. Just make sure it is information people will actually use.

GBTI accumulates $3.5M in St Vincent Relief effort

The Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry Limited today presented a cheque valued three million four hundred and forty thousand, one and thirty eight dollars to Prime Minister Mark Phillips at his Camp Street Office.

The presentation represents the collective effort of members of the public and GBTI in support of the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines Relief effort following the volcanic eruptions in April.

GBTIassistance

Following the disaster, GBTI activated its Disaster Relief Fund and encouraged public support.

The bank often responds to the needs of the community and disasters such as this.

GBTI’s CEO (ag), James Foster, said that it was the bank’s social corporate responsibility to help our Caribbean brothers and sisters and are pleased to do so, while Prime Minister, Mark Phillips, lauded GBTI’s effort and said that the Government of Guyana is ready to help any regional nation in any way it can.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines experienced one of its worst La Soufriere volcanic eruptions last month.

GBTI commends all those who contributed to the fund and we extend hope and best wishes to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Brasington bids farewell to Guyana

Originally published at OilNOW

Brasington arrived in Guyana just after the world class Liza discovery was made in May 2015 under the stewardship of then Country Manager, Jeff Simons. Since that time, she has been able to forge close relationships with key stakeholders, the media fraternity and the Guyanese people which the company’s Director, Government Relations, Carlton James, has described as ‘phenomenal’.

Speaking at a reception on Wednesday evening at the Pegasus hotel in Georgetown to mark her departure, James said one of the notable qualities of Brasington is her mission to ensure that the people of Guyana expand their knowledge of the petroleum industry, which is new to the South American country.

“Her constituency has grown tremendously because of that commitment. She got to know her counterparts quickly; government officials, members of the Parliamentary Opposition and others got to know her and liked her,” he pointed out.

Brasington’s progressive approach to media and public relations saw her forging close ties with the local media corps, which over the last two years in particular, served to open up a much needed avenue for the flow of information about the industry and the company’s operations in the country.

Guyanese were able to learn, through the media, about how the petroleum industry worked and the untold potential benefits oil production could bring to the nation of just 750,000 people.

James recounted how Brasington was always eager to learn more about the various communities and the diverse cultures that formed the fabric of the Guyanese society. This he said, has played an integral role in her being able to effectively communicate and relate to various groups of people in the country.

In brief remarks, an emotional Brasington said her time in Guyana has been an “amazing chapter” in her life and one that has thought her a lot about people and herself. “When I first came here almost three years ago I was not sure what to expect. And I still don’t know what tomorrow or the next week will bring, if we are honest. I have truly fallen in love with this beautiful country and so many of the people here,” she said.

The outgoing company official said she is extremely proud of the relationships she has built and the progress made together with various partners and stakeholders.

“To have been here at the beginning of such a significant milestone in the country’s history has been an honour from a professional perspective I would never be able to duplicate in my career, and to be living here as part of your community has been an honour to me personally,” she told the dozens of media professionals, journalists and guests gathered.

Brasington also used the occasion to introduce Deedra Moe, who will be replacing her as Senior Director, Public and Government Affairs, effective July 1.

Moe is the Operations Public and Government Affairs Manager for the ExxonMobil Fuels & Lubricants Company and has also served as the Public and Government Affairs Manager for the company’s Baytown area refining and chemical operations.

Having worked with the US oil major for 16 years, Moe said she looks forward to further developing relationships with the various stakeholder groups in Guyana.

GBTI Calls for Greater Gender Equality on International Women’s Day

GBTI maintains a strong commitment to giving back to the community. Recently, in recognition of International Women’s Day, GBTI made moves to support greater gender equality throughout Guyana. Creating a more gender balanced country is important not just for women, but for all citizens of the country in terms of creating opportunity and driving progress.

The CEO of GBTI, James Foster, spoke at a ceremony held on International Women’s Day at the I Love Guyana Monument in Kingston. This event was organized by GBTI in collaboration with Impressions and the High Commission of Canada to Guyana. During his speech, Foster reaffirmed the larger mission of creating a world in which women can live free of fear and want and pointed to the importance of maintaining space for women to share their experiences and insights.

The International Women’s Day Celebration in Kingston

During the event, the letters in the monument were replaced by a backdrop decorated for International Women’s Day. People could sign their own personal pledges in support of the larger #ChooseToChallenge campaign associated with the holiday. The event also featured words from other community leaders, including the Impression marketing manager, who acknowledged how far women have come in their fight for equality.

Many women around the world have few rights and face extreme hardship in their everyday lives as a result. This is the reason why such events are so important. International Women’s Day is a bittersweet holiday that celebrates progress while pointing to the continued abuse, violence, and trauma experienced by women.

A great deal still needs to be done to ensure that women have the rights and protections they deserve and this event was a way to raise awareness and encourage people to pledge to work toward a different future. Creating a supportive environment for women is a collective responsibility. While it is important to reflect on the progress that has been made, it is even more critical to continue pushing for change.

This is truer this year than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused situations for many women around the world to deteriorate. Issues like affordable childcare, small business training, gender-based violence, and discrimination have become even more apparent due to the pandemic. Research has overwhelmingly shown that gender equality and female empowerment drives development and makes communities more resilient. Closing the gender gap is an imperative goal for GBTI.

The History of International Women’s Day

While International Women’s Day, which is held on March 8 each year, has become an important holiday in the past decades, it has actually been celebrated since the early 1900s. When it was first recognized back in 1909, it was actually celebrated at the end of February, but was moved to the beginning of March in 1913.

The first celebration was an outgrowth of a 1908 march through New York City, which involved demands for better pay and shorter hours, as well as the right to vote. At that time, the event took place only in the United States, but after a decision in Copenhagen, it became international in 1911. Since then, the event has grown to recognize the economic, social, and political impact of women, as well as a stark reminder that significant inequality continues to exist across the globe.

Today, people recognize International Women’s Day in a number of different ways. Many events choose to celebrate the achievements of women and raise awareness about the fight for equality, such as the recent gathering in Kingston. These gatherings become an important forum for discussing how to generate change and what individual people can do to make a difference.

The day is also an important one for donating to charities focused on the education and support of women across the world. These organizations are driving much of the change we see in the world in terms of economic and political empowerment of women, as well as protecting females from violence.

The 2021 #ChooseToChallenge Theme

In 2021, International Women’s Day has adopted the theme #ChooseToChallenge, which is what drove the GBTI event in Guyana. When we challenge the world around us, we become alert to the inequities that may have previously flown under the radar. Each person is responsible for their own thoughts and actions, is this what the theme really means.

Everyone needs to look at themselves and the world around them to call out bias and inequality. The event asked people to raise their hands as a pledge to challenge themselves and the people around them and then share photos of this pose online to increase awareness of the campaign and the important day.

These photos serve as an important conversation starter to become more critical of the policies and procedures we take for granted by that are founded in bias. GBTI took the challenge a step further to ask people to put their own commitments down in writing for everyone to see.

6 of the Best Tips to Help Save Even with a Limited Income

Trying to save money when you have a limited income can seem impossible. However, a low income does not have to prevent you from meeting your savings goals. Even with a small paycheck, you can still save money for goals like retirement or a home down payment provided that you get a little creative and think outside of the box.

Often, people think that they will be able to make up for not saving now when they begin to make more money, but investing works best when money has time to grow, so it is important not to put off saving even when it seems challenging with your current income. Some tips to keep in mind when it comes to saving on a limited income include:

1. Eliminate debt.

For some people, excessive debt can make it difficult to save. In this situation, it may make the most sense to focus all extra money on eliminating that debt, or at least high-interest debt. Once the debt is eliminated or at least reduced, you will be able to focus on more clearly on saving.

The decision of whether to save money or eliminate debt is often a difficult one. You can think of it in terms of which strategy gives the bigger return. If the interest getting charged on your debt is more than you are likely to earn by investing your savings, then it makes sense to pay off those accounts before choosing to save.

2. Create a budget.

While creating a budget may seem silly, it is actually fundamental to saving, especially with a limited income. Account for your monthly bills and figure out exactly how much is left over, which is the amount that you have for discretionary spending and saving.

Sacrificing all fun may make you go off the budget, so it is important to include at least some money for entertainment while funneling the majority of extra money into savings. Importantly, you should not be in the red once you total up your monthly expenses. If this is the case, you are not in a sustainable position and you will need to figure out how to bring more money in, reduce monthly expenses, or both.

3. Automate your savings.

Once you know the amount that you can safely save each month, automate it. When money gets deducted from your account automatically, you stop thinking about it. Then, when you check your savings account months down the line, you can be proud of the amount that you have accumulated.

If you keep the money in your checking account, you may save it accidentally, so it is important to create something separate. Also, you likely want to put the savings into an investment account, especially if you are saving for something long in the future, such as retirement. If you have more short-term goals, then a savings account may be the better option.

4. Reduce your discretionary spending.

The easiest way to save more money is to spend less on expenses that are not required. At the same time, you do not want to end up feeling deprived, which can push you to make poor financial decisions. Look for free or cheap forms of entertainment. For example, museums sometimes have free days that will not require you to pay.

Cooking at home is much cheaper than eating at restaurants, so you may need to adjust your food spending. Also, going to the library or taking advantage of other free services is a great way to reduce some of the spending that you may be doing. Be creative when it comes to finding genuinely fun things to do that cost little to no money.

5. Carry cash with you for purchases.

If you use a card for every purchase, it can become very difficult to keep track of spending and you may end up going over your budget. For many people, a better approach is to use cash. At the beginning of the week, take out the amount of cash that you have allocated for everyday spending and no more.

Then, you only have access to that cash throughout the week. You can keep a closer eye on the amount of cash left and make better decisions about how to spend it. If you were thinking about a dinner out but only have a small bit of cash left, you may need to cook at home this week and strategize how to spend less the following week to get to that restaurant.

6. Alter your monthly ins and outs.

If all else fails and you cannot manage to get a significant amount of money into a savings account, you will need to analyze your larger financial picture. Sometimes, this means making major changes to reduce your monthly expenses, such as moving to a less expensive housing option or getting rid of a vehicle and using public transit.

While these seem like significant sacrifices, you need to think about your financial goals and what sacrifices are worth it to you. The other option is to increase income. While this sounds impossible sometimes, it is almost always possible to work a side gig. Instead of getting rid of your vehicle, for example, sign up to do rideshares. Think about hobbies you can pursue to make additional money, or simply find odd jobs around town.

5 of the Most Important Points to Consider Prior to Opening a Rice Farm

Often referred to as the breadbasket of the Caribbean, Guyana is one of the world’s primary producers of staple crops like sugar and rice. The future of farming in Guyana is bright with many opportunities for people who want to get involved with the industry. Starting a new farm can prove daunting, especially with a crop like rice, which can be quite tricky to grow.

Luckily, Guyanese entrepreneurs have support from GBTI, which is one of the nation’s leading provider of farming loans with a specific product meant for growing rice. This loan can be secured for purchasing land, equipment, fertilizers, and more. Some key tips to keep in mind when it comes to launching a rice operation include:

1. Choose the right land.

Rice can be grown almost anywhere, but it will thrive in certain conditions more than others. Ideally, rice should be planted in a swampy or waterlogged area to get the largest yield. These areas will reduce the need for an irrigation system, which can add a lot of expense to the process of setting up a farm.

Look for fertile land that has a lot of water retention. The type of soil also matters as you look for the right plot of land. Clay-heavy soil is widely considered the best for growing rice, since it helps to retain water and organic matter that promote fast rice growth. Prior to planting, you will need to weed and cut down grasses. Also, the ground need to be level and then tilled to make it ready for planting.

2. Plant the right seeds at the right time.

One of the important things to keep in mind when it comes to farming is that the quality you put in is the quality you get out. In other words, you need to invest in high-quality seeds. While these seeds are more expensive, they can increase yield by up to 20 percent and reduce replanting rates. Also, great seeds promote uniformity and are more resistant to disease. Look for a double variety with up to 80 percent germination tendency as you buy seed.

Next, think about when you should be planting the seed. Some farmers will spread seed, which is time efficient, while others will transplant rice because it maximizes the harvest. If you plant seeds directly, wait until the rainy season is only a few days away. If you transplant, you will need to wait until the land is heavily flooded after the first or second rainfall.

3. Figure out a harvesting strategy.

For the most part, rice does not take a lot of time to mature. In general, rice is ready for harvest between three and five months after planting, although some varieties may take much longer. Be sure to pay attention to the seeds that you purchase. Harvesting is the process of collecting the mature crops so that they can be processed for sale. Before you harvest, you need to have the flooded water in the farm mostly drained but not completely to make it as easy as possible to collect the crop.

There are two main strategies for harvesting. You can use a harvesting machine, which minimizes time but can be costly depending on whether you purchase or rent the equipment. Availability may also be an issue. The other option is harvesting by hand using knives and sickles. You will need to hire labor to help, but it is often cheaper than using equipment.

4. Dry and mill the rice properly.

Once rice gets harvested, it needs time to dry. You should not underestimate the importance of this step. By giving the rice time to dry properly, it becomes safe for storage. Otherwise, the rice could rot and cost you the entire crop. Many rice farmers consider drying the most important step since it can ruin the entire harvest. The harvested grain should sit under the sun for at least 24 hours to dry and ideally longer.

The next step is to mill the rice to remove the husk and bran layers, which is what makes the grain edible. This process will depend in the variety of rice you grow, so pay close attention to the seeds that you buy. Typically, milling is done with commercial equipment to maximize the yield of rice. Many different processes exist, so do you research and understand what is involved, including the cost of using equipment.

5. Store the rice in a safe place.

Many farmers overlook how they will store the rice once it has been harvested. You need to know whether you will store the rice in paddy form and then mill prior to selling or save milled grain. The husk can help protect rice against insects, but it can be more costly to mill several times rather than once.

Often, farmers use storage rooms, sacs, or wood pallets to keep the rice. The decision depends on cost, space, and what is easily available. Make sure you think about how you will keep you rice safe from insects and rodents, as well as microorganisms. A clean, dry environment is important for minimizing growth of mold.

Spotlight on Small Business Grants for Guyanese Entrepreneurs – What You Need to Know

Small business remains extremely important for the economic development of communities throughout Guyana. These small companies provide vital jobs for the community while also providing the potential for significant income through products and services. As small businesses take off, their development brings more wealth into communities and provide jobs.

For this reason, it is essential to support small businesses in Guyana, especially during times of struggle. In the past year, many of the small businesses in the country have faced difficulties due to the pandemic. By focusing on the needs of these small companies, the Guyanese people can speed recovery from the pandemic and help rebuild the economy.

Guyanese Government Provides Support to Local Green Companies

In an effort to support small business owners in Guyana, the Small Business Bureau (SBB) recently announced $1 million rewards as part of the Green Business Technology Fund Programme. This money was presented to the owners of companies focused on sustainability and innovation.

The grants were awarded to 20 entrepreneurs as a means of driving the development of their businesses and expanding their reach. During a ceremony to recognize the grant recipients, the SBB offered the full support of the Ministry of Tourism, Industry, and Commerce as they develop their businesses and further encouraged the 20 grantees to provide assistance to each other.

The fund has provided rewards to entrepreneurs since its inception in 2018. At that time, only 12 entrepreneurs applied and 6 received the reward. The next year, 8 recipients were chosen from 12 applications. Last year, 85 businesses applied with 20 being selected, which shows the rapid growth of the program and the extreme need for support from Guyanese small business.

SBB has recognized the need and made a pledge to increase access to financing as well as provide programs for entrepreneurial skill development. The government has acknowledged the importance of supporting both existing entrepreneurs and providing tools necessary for new businesses to be founded.

The grants to green-focused companies will certainly help certain entrepreneurs find solid footing during a difficult time for businesses. However, many companies that do not have a focus on sustainability continue to struggle. Focusing on their needs will prove extremely important moving forward through 2021.

Assistance to Small Businesses Impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic

Last spring when the coronavirus pandemic caused massive shutdowns of economies across the world, the Guyanese government reacted by offering relief grants to local small businesses. The Ministry of Business combined its relief grants, meant to sustain operations and make it possible to maintain employees, with training and development programs designed to help small business owners pivot and maintain solvency during the pandemic.

These programs taught entrepreneurs how to use online platforms to sell their products and emphasized the important of diversification. Training was also offered to help entrepreneurs forge new supply partnerships and reduce operational expenses.

The first grants were released in June of 2020 and 12 business owners collectively received a total of $1.6 million in assistance. Another set of businesses received grants shortly thereafter. These grants were an acknowledgement of the challenges created by the pandemic.

The Guyanese government recognized that the grants were not a panacea, but hoped that they might sustain businesses through the most difficult time so that they could recover. While these grants were certainly helpful, nearly a year has passed since they were given. Many business owners are calling for more assistance as they continue to struggle with the pressure of the pandemic.

Numerous potential solutions have been offered, such as reducing business taxes for a period of time to increase the revenue that entrepreneurs can use to pay employees, or allocating a percentage of gross domestic product to  other opportunities for entrepreneurs. Of course, individuals are also calling for additional grants beyond those aimed at green businesses to avoid closures that will cost jobs. Also, while the government has focused largely on capacity building through training, business owners believe that more of this programming could bolster the community and help protect against the economic threat of the pandemic.

Another Option for Entrepreneurs Facing Economic Pressure

While government intervention can help sustain small business in Guyana, GBTI also has a range of financial products intended to help entrepreneurs. Several different varieties of business loans are offered by GBTI, including options for expanding agricultural operations, bolstering manufacturing projects, and even creating green processes, which can help control business expenses.

These loans come with flexible repayment terms and competitive interest rates, which make them a solid option for entrepreneurs that need a little extra help to stay afloat during the pandemic. GBTI even offers a temporary moratorium on payment installments for certain situations, which can make the option more appealing to entrepreneurs. Individuals interested in business loans from GBTI should get in contact with a credit officer from one of the bank’s 12 branches countrywide to discuss options.