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.