Spotlight on 7 Interesting Facts about Rice

Guyana is one of the top producers of rice in the Caribbean, and GBTI supports much of its agriculture through its loan services. In fact, GBTI has emerged as a leader in agricultural lending in Guyana, where agriculture is a key part of the overall economy. Rice is a staple food across a number of different cultures, yet few people understand how the crop is grown. As a staple food around the world, rice feeds more people than any other crop, so it is important to understand what makes this food so popular, from the ease of growing it to its nutritional value. The following are some interesting facts about rice:

1. All rice originates as brown rice.

While some people may think that brown and white rice are difference parts of the same plant, this is not a correct assumption. In reality, all rice starts out as brown rice, which is considered a whole grain since it has a bran, germ, and an endosperm. White rice results from removing the husk, bran, and germ of each grain. In addition, white rice is typically polished after this process, which makes it appear more uniform and palatable. Often, white rice is fortified with key nutrients such as iron and calcium. Brown rice has more protein than white rice, as well as large amounts of carbohydrates, fiber, and healthy fat.

2. More than half the world consumes rice as a staple food.

Around the world, people consume rice in massive quantities. For example, in Asia, the typical person eats about 300 pounds of rice each year. However, people in Asia are not the largest consumers of rice. In the United Arab Emirates, the average person consumes 450 pounds of rice each year. Americans tend to eat over 20 pounds of rice on an annual basis. One of the countries in which individuals eat the least amount of rice is France, where the average person consumes an average of 10 pounds of rice per year.

3. Rice requires more cultivation than corn and wheat.

Aside from rice,the primary staple foods are corn and wheat. Rice actually requires more effort to grow than these other two foods. Farms grow rice from seeds in different beds. Once seedlings start to appear, the plants are relocated to flooded rice paddies, where they can finish growing. The plants can be grown on any continent except Antarctica, where the climate is too cold. Cultivating rice requires a large amount of water, as well as labor. Rice harvests occur once a year. The actual techniques involved in rice farming vary quite a bit between the East and West. In the West, lasers level the land, and airplanes are used to drop seeds. In the East, animals are used to plough fields, and the seeds are often planted by hand.

4. Rice is one of the oldest-known foods.

Archaeologists trace the consumption of rice back to about 2,000 BCE in China, which makes it the oldest-known food that is still widely consumed today. Moreover, cultivation first began throughout China, India, and Thailand in about 5,000 BCE. Merchants most likely carried the crop to the West, where it also became a popular crop. However, cultivation has always been more widespread in Asia than in other parts of the world. In India, Japan, and Thailand, rice is closely associated with specific goods, which made it an important part of the daily diet.

5. Farmers classify rice according to the variety and type.

In general, there are three different types of rice: short-, medium-, and long-grain varieties. Historically, long-grain rice has been considered the best option because it does not easily clump. In terms of variety, more than 40,000 kinds exist. In the West, people tend to prefer aromatic varieties such as Basmati and Thai Jasmine, although Italian Arborio has also become popular because it is used in risottos. Some varieties are considered to have a natural sweetness and are thus used in puddings, as well as other desserts such as cake. Basmati rice is considered the most fragrant variety in the world, and it is produced primarily in the Himalayas between Pakistan and India.

6. The Guinness World Records has a record for the largest bowl of rice.

Currently, the Guinness World Records recognizes a bowl of rice weighing 6,944 pounds produced by the Turkey Culinary Federation as the largest ever produced. In 2015, 300 cooks in China teamed up to break this record, and they collectively made a bowl of Yeung Chow fried rice that weighed 9,242 pounds. Unfortunately, the bowl of rice was deemed unfit for human consumption. Guinness ruled that the entirety of the bowl of rice needed to be edible in order to qualify for the record.

7. Sticky rice holds the Great Wall of China together.

The Great Wall of China was built in the 15th and 16th centuries under the Ming dynasty. During construction, workers used rice mixed with calcium carbonate as a sort of mortar to hold the stones in the wall together. Remarkably, this mortar still holds strong, although anyone who has had to scrape caked rice from the bottom of a pot is probably not surprised by this fact.

7 of the Best Tips for Managing Your Credit Wisely

Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI), one of the largest banks in Guyana and the Caribbean region, offers a full range of personal and commercial services, including small business and “green” loans, large commercial loans, savings and checking accounts, credit cards, and more.

GBTI also provides customers with helpful tips and tools to assist with personal finance and banking in person and through its website at GBTIBank.com. 

GBTI VISA Gold and VISA Classic credit card accounts offer customers numerous benefits, including the convenience of shopping online and in local stores and restaurants, all with the peace of mind that comes with the bank’s PIN-protected system and 24-hour customer support. 

GBTI’s VISA cards are accepted by more than 25 million businesses all over the world and at more than 1 million ATMs across the United States. Additionally, GBTI VISA customers enjoy competitive interest rates, online account statement access, free monthly statements, and a maximum one-week turnaround time for replacement of lost, stolen, or damaged cards. 

Anyone at least 18 years of age with valid picture identification is eligible to apply for a GBTI VISA card. The bank’s branches offer application forms, but customers may also access forms online, print them, and fill them out before their scheduled interview with a bank representative. 

credit-card

Thanks to the expansion of access to personal credit over the past few generations, credit cards have become ubiquitous worldwide. There are numerous excellent reasons to open a credit card account, but it is also vital to keep sound principles of managing credit in mind when using it. 

Here are a few tips from experts in personal finance that can help consumers manage their credit card accounts in ways that will most benefit them over the long term:

Pay bills on time

Paying your monthly statement—or at least the minimum repayment amount—by the due date will prevent late charges from racking up, and it will also help you maintain a good credit score. In fact, one leading reason why consumers fall into steep credit card debt can be traced back to a failure to make repayments on time.

Pay as much of your balance as possible

Experts advise paying off your entire card balance every month, or at least as much of it as possible, to keep interest and additional fees down.

Of course, there are reasons when it’s just not possible to repay your full balance every month. Even then, it’s still important to repay as much of it as you can—and on time. 

Keep balances low

It’s also a good idea to focus on keeping card balances under about 30 percent of your total credit limit.

Carrying forward more debt than you are prepared to manage puts you in a less favorable position for obtaining a mortgage or financing your child’s higher education. For many potential lenders, credit card balances that continuously hover just under the limit are a sign that a consumer may present a higher risk when it comes to a loan. 

Traditional thinking on this issue also advises credit card holders to spend at most one-third of their monthly income on servicing debt—automobile loans, student loans, and credit card bills, for example.

Keep spending under control

Use only as much credit as you can afford to repay. A store discount of 20 percent may sound exciting, but if you can’t afford to pay off the purchase in your upcoming billing cycle, that discount could end up costing you far more than it was worth.

Make a budget

A simple monthly budget is perhaps one of the most underrated tools for curbing excess

spending and making credit work well for you.

Outline all your monthly income, create a list of all necessary expenditures, and the difference will show you how much debt you can realistically take responsibility for and repay.

You can even use your credit card as a budgeting tool. By planning to make all your regular recurring purchases and bill payments by card, you are helping to build your credit while maintaining an up-to-date log of expenditures. 

Get a copy of your credit report

Experts recommend requesting a copy of your credit report every year from any of the relevant credit reporting companies. Check this report carefully to note and report any errors, and be particularly alert for any signs of fraud or identity theft. Make sure to correct any wrong or incomplete information, such as address, marital status, or current mortgage or loan status. 

Let your bank help you

GBTI’s free monthly statements and easy online account access can become powerful budgeting and tracking tools for helping you keep track of your cash flow every month. Try logging in to your account once a week to make sure you understand your usage patterns and available credit. This will also allow you to promptly bring any problems you see to your bank’s attention.

How to Discuss Money with Your Significant Other

Managing your money well is no easy task, and it can be doubly difficult when you become married or enter into a common law union. You’re now having to sort out expenses and budget effectively for a household rather than for an individual.

Depending on your prior circumstances, you and your partner may have had different experiences with money. You’re also likely bringing diverse budgeting skill sets into the relationship. Since decisions about money often have to be made daily, making those decisions jointly can be a challenge for couples.

Read on for some helpful tips for managing money as a couple from our GBTI banking experts.

1. Begin with Honesty

Money can be a touchy subject. Some people find it relatively straightforward to discuss their finances, while others are reluctant or become anxious. Think honestly about what money means to you. Do you value having the spending power acquire nice things or is it satisfactory just to have sufficient funds to pay the bills and put food on the table? Do money worries have you up at night or is your financial health rarely a source of stress? Be as clear and truthful as you can with your spouse.

2. Recognize Differences

After opening up to one another, you’ll probably discover that you and your spouse or significant other have some different feelings and expectations on the topic of finances. This will involve decisions about how to spend, save, and invest your wealth. In addition, one of you may feel much more comfortable handling the family budget. Note where you differ and where you can find some common ground for agreement. You don’t have to have everything figured out at once—just enough to begin the budgeting process.

3. Be Compassionate

couple

Take some time to understand where your partner is coming from. What was their exposure to money management growing up? Did they benefit from solid financial literacy training or were they shielded from discussions about money? If they have difficulty talking about budgeting, it could be that they witnessed their parents having financial troubles or disagreements.

4. Decide on an Approach

The next step is to figure out your money management approach. Many couples who bank at GBTI have joint checking and savings accounts. However, you may decide to keep your GBTI accounts separate from one another, or have a joint account for common expenses and individual accounts for personal spending and saving. If you have individual investments or bank accounts, be sure to designate a beneficiary.

5. Play to Your Strengths

If one of you is better at handling the family budget, it makes sense to have that person take on the responsibility. Some people have a natural aptitude for dealing with finances and know how to spend and invest wisely. They may also thrive on looking for deals and ways to stretch dollars for more buying power. Play to your strengths as a couple while making sure that you are both aware of your budget details and in agreement with all financial decisions.

6. Build in Flexibility

The best budgets have some flexibility built into them for contingencies. Whether it’s rounding up regular expenses to the next few dollars to provide a cushion for price changes or slowly building an emergency fund to prepare for large unexpected expenses, take care to use a few proactive budgeting practices. The more prepared you are for increases in living costs and emergencies, the more trouble-free your money talks will be.

7. Review Regularly

Your financial situation will change over the course of your relationship. Hopefully, your situation will improve with job promotions, profitable investments, and increased expertise in managing your funds. Having said that, the opposite can certainly happen, and you may struggle with your finances at times due to various adversities. By regularly reviewing your budget and financial goals together, you’ll make sure that you are on track and make adjustments as needed.

8. Make Room for Mistakes

Making mistakes with money cannot be avoided. You might forget to pay a bill, overspend on holiday, not set aside sufficient funds for repairs on an older vehicle, or commit a more serious oversight. Poor financial decisions don’t need to lead to anxiety and guilt. Just use it as a learning experience and move on. Remember, if you start to find yourself out of your depth, GBTI can help.

Finally, don’t forget to celebrate your successes. After putting in place the above strategies and experiencing the advantages, it’s important to celebrate the fact that you’re working as a team to manage your money.

How to Build an Emergency Savings Account

GBTI has been in the banking business long enough to know that many people live paycheck to paycheck with little or no money put aside for emergencies. Whether you are making a good living, you are scraping by, or your financial situation falls somewhere in between, you’ll run up against an emergency every now and then.

Emergencies are unavoidable in life and many of them require financial resources to address. Here are some ideas to boost your savings so that you can handle urgent situations with less financial stress.

Start Small

money growth

Budgeting can be tough. When you look at your earnings versus your expenses, it’s understandable if you feel there’s just no room for emergency savings. Do not despair—begin with whatever you can. Even squirreling away a few dollars here and there is a solid start and, as you see your savings slowly build, you’ll feel inspired to keep going.

Saving any amount is better than nothing. While it may not be enough to cover something unexpected like the cost of replacing a home appliance or repairing a vehicle, whatever savings you’ve accumulated will definitely help.

Turn Saving into a Game

See if you can trick yourself into saving more. Some people find it works to empty their pockets or purse of smaller denominations or change at the end of the day and set it apart for savings. Just a few dollars here and there quickly adds up.

You might find that tucking away a $20 bill when you take cash out of the ATM at payday and seeing how long you can make it last is helpful. Look for ways to challenge yourself to spend a little less and save more.

Keep Savings Separate

savings

Whatever you do, make sure to park your emergency savings in a separate account from the ones you use for regular banking. For instance, you may already have several personal accounts at GBTI. Most people have a checking account, where their pay is deposited, to use for making mortgage, rent or car payments and settling other monthly bills. Some also have a savings account for irregular expenses.

If you’re trying to juggle all your financial obligations and emergency savings in one account it can be nerve-wracking, not to mention impractical. Therefore, it makes sense to have a different account for unexpected expenses.

Make Saving Automatic

Making your emergency savings automatic is one of the best pieces of advice GBTI has. This means setting up an amount for GBTI to move every month from the account where your earnings are deposited to the savings account that you’ve designated for unpredictable events.

Having the bank take care of this transaction for you ensures that you’ll not forget or change your mind and spend the extra cash. Plus, when you do not actually have to handle the transfer on your own, you can pretend that your income is that much less.   

Maximize Windfalls

From time to time, you may find that you receive a small windfall. Perhaps you get a refund from the government on your income taxes. Maybe you were given some money as a gift or have earned a little by selling used items or doing some short-term work for someone. Maximize the impact of this unanticipated money by putting it directly into your emergency account.

Here’s another helpful approach. When your salary grows, simply increase the amount of your automatic deposit into emergency savings by the amount of your raise. It will assist to build up this account faster instead of adjusting your spending to incorporate your new take home pay. 

Try Specific Accounts

As your savings starts to grow and benefit from compound interest over time, you can fine-tune your approach by setting up specific accounts with GBTI for different types of unforeseen circumstances. What accounts you choose will depend on what makes the most sense for you.

For example, depending on your situation, you may choose to fund an account specifically for vehicle maintenance, since it can be expensive to keep your car on the road. If you have a large family whose members are spread out from one another geographically, you may choose to fund account dedicated to urgent travel to see loved ones in a family crisis.

Having an emergency fund in case of job loss may also give you peace of mind. You can rest easy knowing that you will be able to cover several months of lost income while you find other employment. Entrepreneurs with variable income or those whose work is seasonal in nature may also benefit from saving in advance. That way, you don’t have to worry during the times that are less busy.

In short, emergency savings will make you feel better equipped to handle your finances no matter what comes along in life.

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.