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.

What You Need to Know About Creating and Funding an Emergency Account

One of the trickiest personal finance questions to answer relates to whether it makes more sense to pay off debt or save. While paying off debt is often the better choice, something that should take priority in this circumstance is creating an emergency fund.

Having money set aside makes it possible for us to weather financial emergencies without going into more debt. Unplanned expenses often arise at the worst time, but knowing you have some money set aside for emergencies can make the experience less stressful. Having an emergency account means you can stay on track for meeting major financial goals even when you’re faced with unexpected expenses.

The Basics of Creating an Emergency Fund

As the name implies, an emergency fund is a cash reserve that helps you deal with unplanned expenses like home repairs, medical bills, car maintenance, or even loss of income. Without this sort of account, you may need to dip into other savings or, worse, go into debt to cover the unexpected expenses.

Taking out a loan or putting these expenses on a credit card makes it more expensive in the long run as you will need to pay interest, which can put you even further behind with your financial goals. When it comes to creating an emergency fund, the question that many people have is how much they need in the account. The answer to this question is different for everyone.

You can start by reviewing the unexpected expenses that have arisen in the past to figure out how much you might need. However, it is also important to think about your overall income and your ability to pay the account back if you use it. While it may sound paradoxical, having more money in the account provides more of a cushion if your income is low or varies. With this approach, you give yourself more time to pay back the amount you needed.

Paying into a fund when the budget is already tight may seem impossible, but even putting a little aside each month adds up quickly. Another strategy is thinking about you monthly expenses and saving for six months’ worth of living costs. Then, if you lose your job, you have a good cushion to keep you afloat as you look for other opportunities.

What Kind of Account to Use for an Emergency Fund

Choosing how to store your emergency fund is another important question to answer. You may be tempted to invest the money so that it can grow while it goes untouched, but this can actually be problematic. Because of the nature of this fund, you may need quick access to it, and invested money does not typically have the liquidity to make it feasible. Also, you may find yourself forced to sell investments when they are down if you do not have the time to wait out a market recovery.

A better option is choosing a savings account with a high interest rate. Emergencies can happen at any time and a savings account gives you immediate access. Importantly, you should create a separate account from the one you use daily so that there is some barrier to dipping into the reserve.

Putting the money in a savings account can allow it to earn some interest, even if the returns are much less than if you invested it. You do have some other options when it comes to saving an emergency fund, but they all have fairly significant drawbacks.

For example, you could keep the money in cash, but then you leave yourself open to loss or theft. Another option is putting the money on a prepaid card, but this also leaves you open to loss or theft. Moreover, it could be tempting to use the card for situations that are not emergencies. In general, a savings account is the best option for storing this money and keeping it safe.

Strategies for Saving Money in an Emergency Fund

As already mentioned, saving money in an emergency fund can seem like a daunting task. Once you have a goal in mind for the account, you need to have a strategy for achieving it. One of the best ways is to make steady contributions. You can set aside a specific amount each week or month to put into the account.

Even if this amount is small, you will be surprised how quickly the account accumulates money when you are consistent. Check in on the account regularly to make sure you are on track and celebrate the milestones you hit. After all, savings is hard, and it is worthwhile to recognize when you have saved enough.

Automating your savings is the best way to grow the account. You may be able to set up an automatic monthly transfer to the account or choose a certain amount form each paycheck to go to it. However, you should also keep the account in mind whenever you come across a windfall. If you receive a bonus at work or inherit money, this can be a great way to boost the emergency fund.

Once you have achieved your goal, you no longer need to save money in the account regularly, so it pays to use these windfalls to fund the account. Importantly, whenever you dip into the emergency fund, you will need to resume regular payments to bring the account back to its baseline.

This Is Why the Guyanese Agriculture Sector Is Poised for Growth

Agriculture accounts for about a third of Guyana’s entire gross domestic product and this industry is responsible for an equivalent number of jobs in the nation. GBTI helps local Guyanese farms through agricultural loans that and is now one of the nation’s largest agricultural lenders.

Guyana has actually been called the “breadbasket” of the Caribbean due to its agricultural production. The primary agricultural exports for the country include sugar, rice, forestry, and seafood, although many other products are grown in Guyana.

Understanding the unique pressures on this industry and the trends can help farmers prepare for the future and ensure they protect their livelihoods. In recent years, extreme weather, declining productivity, and instability in commodity prices have all presented challenges for the country’s agriculture system. However, going forward, the agricultural sector is poised for growth. Here’s what you need to know:

Emerging Opportunities for Agriculture in Guyana

Moving forward, the longstanding sugar and rice industries in the country will likely continuing contributing substantially the nation’s economy. However, it is important to recognize that non-traditional agriculture has shown exciting growth potential in recent years.

In the past few years, there have been significant increases in the export of prepared foods likes coconut milk, spices, and jams. The non-traditional agriculture sector needs more investment in facilities and quality assurance to become a more significant part of Guyana’s exports, but the potential for growth is significant.

In addition, Guyana has significant potential for a fishery industry considering its long coastline along the Atlantic Ocean and the network of rivers throughout the country. Guyana became certified to export seafood to the European Union and has long exported to the United States.

Historically, the seafood industry focused on wild-caught seafood, but aquaculture has recently attracted a significant amount of investment. Some segments of the marine market, including prawns and shrimp, are already facing sustainability pressure, which is what makes aquaculture so appealing for the future. Large tilapia and shrimp farming industries have emerged due to private investment and encouragement from the government.

What Farmers Should Know about New Opportunities

Importantly, not all the new opportunities for agricultural growth in Guyana are related to emerging industries. The traditional agriculture sector also has significant opportunities. For example, the mature sugar sector still needs more processing plants to turn the raw product in brown and white sugar. According to the Guyana Sugar Corporation, this remains an underserved segment of the industry.

Also, farmers have opportunities for generating byproducts of sugar production, including ethanol. Similarly, the rice industry needs upgraded milling facilities that make it possible to create value-added rice products. While shipping rice has been lucrative for the country, more money could be earned by producing breakfast cereals, quick-cooking rice, and similar products domestically.

In terms of non-traditional products, a lot of opportunity exists for fresh fruits and vegetables. In the past few years, international demand for fresh produce has grown exponentially. Guyana is well-positioned to provide citrus fruits, as well as exotics like passion fruit, mangoes, and papayas. In terms of fresh fruit, Guyana could easily produce pumpkin, cucumber, and some exotics like bora and seim.

The primary hurdle to entering this industry remains developing modern post-harvest handling procedures to ensure that the products do not spoil during transit. A big part of the issue is time needed to transport products. To enter this market, farmers will need to increase their airlift capacity to export fresh produce in a timely manner.

Another crop that has earned a lot of attention in recent years is quinoa, a seed that is native to South America. Demand for quinoa has grown because of the health benefits associated with the product. While the crop has not historically been grown in Guyana, the conditions are favorable so farmers can also take advantage of this health food trend. Quinoa provides all nine essential amino acids, which is what makes it such a desirable health food product.

Other Guyanese Agricultural Industries with Growth Potential

While livestock and dairy have not traditionally been major Guyanese exports, this could change in the coming years. Recently, many investment opportunities have emerged in the meat industry, especially in terms of production of beef, mutton, and poultry. There is also potential to export milk and related products to Caribbean islands, where it is difficult to generate these items. Guyana’s savannahs are perfect for large-scale cattle farms, which were once popular decades ago.

Another area that agricultural experts can consider for investment is in support services. This sector is currently emerging, and farmers will need machinery and technology to support production. As already mentioned, there is a particular need for air cargo services. With more flights specifically for agricultural exports, many new opportunities would be available to Guyanese farmers.

In addition, there is a growing need for cold storage facilities and packaging services. The post-harvest handling process in Guyana is in desperate need of modernization. Investors and agricultural experts can find many opportunities for ensuring that farmers export only the highest-quality products. This will, in turn, open even more doors for non-traditional production.

This Is How GBTI Is Helping the Local Community in the Wake of Severe Flooding

GBTI provides a wide range of services to the Guyana community, from convenient online banking to specialized loans for local entrepreneurs and farmers. Dedicated to helping the Guyana community as much as possible, GBTI also regularly engages in philanthropy and has recently focused on assisting communities affected by flooding.

Guyana has often struggled with flooding due to excessive rainfall, with 2005 one of the primary examples. That year, 34 lives were lost to flooding, which also affected crops and livestock. However, 2020 also brought a considerable amount of rain, damaging hundreds of homes in several parts of the country. Particularly in the last half of October, critical flooding affected more than 1,600 households.

The flooding that occurred in late October was related to heavy rainfall and thundershowers combined with abnormally high tides that prevented rivers and the sea from compensating appropriately for the additional water. This type of flooding is known as a flash flood. Recent flash floods in Guyana have occurred in both 2013 and 2016.

The damage that occurred in 2020 affected several regions, including Pomeroon-Supenaam, Demerara-Mahaica, Essequibo Islands-West Demerara, Mahaica Berbice, and Upper Demerara-Berbice. Altogether, dozens of communities were deemed to be severely impacted by this flooding, with many people reporting flood waters in their homes. The rainfall also impacted Georgetown, the capital of Guyana.

Initial Responses to the 2020 Flooding Experienced in Guyana

As a result of the flooding, the central government collaborated with local governing bodies and community stakeholders to help drain affected cities and villages and minimize the impact of the waters. The government sent engineers to all regions affected by the floods. Additionally, a task force was sent to Georgetown to work with local organizations to determine how to respond most effectively to this emergency.

Several different engineering solutions were activated to provide relief, save people’s homes, and protect their communities. For example, the drainage networks in some places were clogged, which worsened the flooding. Clearing these networks helped the water drain more effectively from commercial and residential areas.

Other efforts to protect Guyanese citizens included offering sandbags and cleaning supplies to affected buildings to help prevent water from entering the lower levels and the creation of temporary shelters within affected communities. Guyana also activated its National Emergency Operations Center.

This brought the Guyana Red Cross Society and the Ministry of Health, among other organizations, into the orchestrated effort to protect the country. Relief packages were created and distributed to residents that had been severely impacted by the flooding. Pumps were installed to remove water from affected areas as quickly as possible.

How GBTI Helped a Community Recover from Recent Flooding

For its part, GBTI has also made substantial contributions to relief efforts within the country. As soon as reports of families being affected were released, GBTI approached the Charity Squatting Area to help individuals in need. The team going to the area was led by acting chief executive officer James Foster along with public relations and marketing manager Pamela Binda.

The media reports were so moving that the bank felt a duty to step up and offer assistance. Once Foster and his team made it to Charity, they noted that the destruction was more widespread than anticipated and pledged to continue helping even beyond the initial GBTI assistance. GBTI owns a bank in the Charity region and feels a special connection to that community, which is what drove the organization’s quick response.

The initial GBTI intervention consisted of a hamper handed out to families in need. This hamper included cleaning supplies to help with the process of returning to normalcy, as well as food to ensure that no one went hungry as a result of losing their home.

Many people were directly impacted by these efforts, including a mother of seven. Her home had been inundated with floodwater for several days and her husband was unemployed at the time, which made her worried about procuring key supplies. A number of families noted that the groceries were especially important and helped calm many of the anxieties they had due to the flooding.

During his time in this region, Foster met with a number of regional officers to discuss how they could move forward and continue helping the region. This team identified ways they could collaborate in the weeks and months to come, as well as potential partnerships that could increase the impact they have.

Multiple employees from the Anna Regina team, as well as members of the Region Two Administration, came out on very short notice to help their community and speed recovery efforts. GBTI remains committed to addressing the needs of the community and will continue to seek out opportunities for helping people in need and easing the burden of natural disasters like flooding.

To learn more about GBTI’s services and its efforts to serve the people of Guyana, please visit GBTIBank.com.

Featured image courtesy Bernard DUPONT | Flickr

Spotlight on 7 of the Reasons Your Business Should Go Green

In recent years, many companies have taken steps to go green. Becoming more ecologically conscientious has a number of benefits, from reducing operating costs to improving relations with customers.

While many of the steps your organization can take to become greener involve an upfront investment, the payoff can be significant. Plus, GBTI offers loans specifically designed to help customers adopt greener processes.

Still, you may be wondering why you should go through the effort to become more environmentally friendly. Some of the key benefits you can expect by making your company greener include:

1. Healthier Work Environment

One of the best ways to show your staff that you care is providing them with a healthy work environment. By making your office greener, you may replace harsh chemicals that are usually present in corporate environments with less abrasive cleaners.

Also, making the office greener often improves indoor air quality. Giving your employees a healthy work environment drives wellbeing and productivity. You staff may end up feeling better and taking fewer sick days, which can add to your bottom line even more.

2. Greater Appeal to Top Talent

Adopting green processes can help you attract and retain top talent. Great employees are hard to come by. Many of them are attracted to companies not just for a paycheck, but also for the ability to make a difference in the world. To that end, many employees now seek out environmentally-conscious firms when they are applying for jobs.

People want to be proud of their workplace. Going green is an effective way to build that sense of pride and establish the company as a leader in the local marketplace. Plus, many of these potential employees understand the value of having a greener workplace in terms of providing a healthier environment.

3. Stronger Competitive Edge

Just as employees want to work at a green firm, customers want to buy products from companies that share their values. Many customers will pay more for a product knowing that they are supporting a green enterprise.

By going green, you can attract new customers who want to be ecologically conscious when they make purchases. Along the way, you may even build some loyalty with your existing customer base. Be sure to talk about your efforts to become green on your website, on social media, and even in person at the store.

4. Greater Potential for Industry Leadership

Your firm can help set the tone for your entire industry by going green. Once you take steps to reduce your environmental impact, measure the results and talk about them with other people in your industry. If you position yourself as an industry leader, you can get a lot of free publicity for your organization.

Speaking about your efforts to go green will help distinguish you from other companies in the same sector. It can also give you a reputation that leads to attracting employees and new customers alike. Sustainability is an important topic right now, and getting involved in the conversation can help you grow your organization quickly.

5. Environmental Stewardship

One of the most important benefits of going green is that this really does help the planet. The future of the human race depends on protecting the planet as much as possible. Becoming more responsible at the corporate level is an important step toward sustainability.

Some very simple changes in your office can significantly improve the wellbeing of the earth. If all businesses start to do their part, the planet will be here for generations to come. Making decisions that harm the environment put this future in jeopardy.

6. Lower Expenses

One of the key reasons to go green is that it will likely end up saving you money. A lot of green optimization involves reducing reliance on water and electricity, which can lower utility bills. Something as simple as switching from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent lighting can help reduce your electricity use by more than half, which is directly reflected in your bill.

Also, making your office paperless will save on printing supplies and paper, not to mention filing cabinets and other forms of storage. These steps may seem small, but they have a meaningful impact on the environment while saving you significant money.

7. Potential Tax Benefits

Many governments around the world have adopted tax benefits, such as credits, to encourage businesses to go green. In Guyana, some tax advantages are likewise available to companies that use alternative energy. Like other nations, Guyana is taking the sustainability movement seriously and more tax advantages may become available in the future.

If you emerge as a leader in green business transformation, you could also play a key role in leveraging that position to advocate for more tax advantages from the government. You may also be eligible for tax benefits from other countries if you operate internationally. Do some research to figure out where the opportunities exist.

6 of the Most Important Factors to Consider as You Plan Your Small Business

GBTI offers individuals a wide range of loan products, including those meant to fund the creation or growth of a small business. Guyana is quickly becoming an environment welcoming of entrepreneurs, with more access to support and guidance.

Still, the success of a small business largely depends on the legwork that you do prior to opening your doors. While money is certainly an important consideration, you should think about a wide range of other factors as you gear up to open your business. Some of the key considerations include:

1. Your Personal Strengths and Weaknesses

Before starting a business, it is important that you understand where your strengths lie and also recognize your personal shortcomings. Creating and running a business is hard work. You will need help and understanding of your weaknesses in order to find people who complement your skills and deficiencies.

Establishing a company involves financial, marketing, and legal considerations Think about what you can do well and what you might be able to teach yourself. Where you have gaps in your knowledge and proclivities, note them so you can find the right people to help you when the time comes. Ultimately, when you are honest with yourself regarding your strengths and limitations, you will be more prepared to run the company effectively.

2. Your Professional Support System

Opening a business is challenging. When you have more people in your corner, you have a greater chance of success. Try to find someone who can give you advice about different aspects of the business. For example, someone who has started a business in your town may be able to guide you through some of the legal hoops. Someone who owns a business in a related field can likely give you tips on expanding your customer base.

Ideally, mentors and advisors should be people you feel comfortable being completely honest with and who will make themselves available for questions or advice around the clock. You can find mentors a number of ways, from getting involved with local business communities to searching them out online.

3. Your Local Markets

Businesses are successful when they fulfill an unmet local need. You do not need to be the first one to the market with an idea if you improve upon current offerings and listen to what customers actually want. To that end, you should have a clear idea of your local market and its needs.

Talk to people and listen to their answers to make sure there is a demand for your product or service. Understand the demographics and their buying habits. You may also want to spend time research nearby markets so you can position yourself to expand in the future.

Pay close attention to competitors and how they have positioned themselves in the market to make sure your business is distinguished enough to compete successfully. Doing this legwork will also help you market the business well.

4. Your Business Plan

A key step in the process of opening a business is creating a plan. Entrepreneurship is a risky venture and a business plan is the best way to mitigate this risk. By creating a comprehensive business plan, you will force yourself to think through many of the issues that could arise and establish paths to deal with them.

A plan forces you to think in detail about your business and the various means of fostering its growth in the years to come. Additionally, a business plan creates a map for the company that you can go back to and assess whether or not you are on the right track.

If you have veered from the business plan unexpectedly, you need to think about why and whether or not you should steer back toward it. Changing courses is sometimes necessary for survival, but you need to do so in a calculated manner.

5. Your Estimated Costs and Returns

Part of the business plan is running the numbers. By looking at how much money you will need to launch the business and estimating the likely returns, you can verify that the plan is viable. Crunching the numbers will also help secure financing as you will be able to demonstrate how the loan gets repaid.

While the numbers are estimates, they are important for projecting growth and development. Think about the overall startup costs, sales, and cash flow. Depending on the nature of the business, you may need to seek out more data.

Look at the performance of similar businesses in your own market and others to get a better understanding of what you can expect. Mentors and advisors can also help a great deal when it comes to making these estimates.

6. Your Contingency Plan

Even when you think you are prepared to start a business, unexpected issues can occur. The past year was an example of that, with the pandemic rapidly changing how many people approached their own businesses. Contingency planning helps guide you when the unexpected happens and can help the business from floundering.

When first starting a business, you may also want to think about income and what you will do if sales are not at the level that you expected. If you have another job, you may want to keep working it for the initial startup period to make sure your business is viable. You may also want to consider different avenues of funding that could help keep the business afloat if you run into unforeseen issues.