Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI), Ltd., has become the leading bank in the country due in part to its ability to offer personalized services based on a commitment helping individuals, businesses, and communities.
Among GBTI’s signature programs is its Women of Worth Loan Facility, which concentrates on providing small business loans to women who head single-parent households. With these funds, each recipient is empowered to help herself and her family by starting a new business, or enhancing or expanding an existing one.
Building success for a diverse group of entrepreneurs
The Women of Worth Loan Facility was launched in 2010 as a partnership between GBTI and Guyana’s Ministry of Social Protection.
Through the loans provided in this program, the bank works to ensure that each recipient is able to develop her business in a way that will contribute to her and her family’s long-term success and well-being.
To date, the businesses that have received support through GBTI’s Women of Worth Loan Facility have encompassed a cross-section of entrepreneurial ventures reflecting a diverse range of interests: textile design and dress-making, hair styling, floral arranging, poultry cultivation, child care, and more.
Offering easy access to loans
In order to be eligible for Women of Worth business loan funding, each applicant must be at least 18, and no older than 60, and have an existing monthly income of under $195 USD. Each applicant also must be registered with the Ministry of Social Protection as a single parent and be able to present a business plan that includes projections for cash flow, as well as documentation on any outstanding loans.
No collateral is required, since GBTI works through a microloan structure. The bank can provide each accepted applicant with as much as 100 percent of her requested loan amount.
Women of Worth program loans can offer up to $1,200 USD, with a maximum loan period of two years at a 6 percent annual interest rate. The bank provides additional peace of mind for participants by offering a three- to six-month grace period before the first scheduled installment payment. This gives entrepreneurs enough time to concentrate on overcoming the initial hurdles of opening or re-opening their businesses before they need to worry about repayment.
Working to close the economic gender gap
Guyana continues to struggle with a broad economic gap between men and women, a fact that its current president, David Granger, has acknowledged. The president and his administration have made public statements strongly supportive of entrepreneurship, education, and training as the key means for building long-term individual and societal prosperity.
In addition, the Granger administration has established a series of Success in Business Workshops throughout the country. This program, which operates through the office of Guyana’s First Lady, partners with the Ministry of Social Protection in order to teach participants vital skills for starting and directing their own profitable businesses. Among other skills, attendees learn to create the type of detailed business plans that will help them obtain bank loans.
But this progress doesn’t mean women in Guyana don’t still face significant obstacles to achieving their dreams of running their own businesses. Experts on the status of women in the country point to specific challenges, not the least of which is a lack of access to funding. But additional challenges come with simply being female in a developing nation: the lack of a strong support system, the difficulties of balancing work and family responsibilities, and even well-founded concerns about stepping outside of traditional expectations regarding gender roles.
Maintaining a commitment to furthering individual success
The Women of Worth program can help these business owners to achieve greater success. For instance, they could potentially use GBTI funding to buy needed supplies for their establishments in order to enhance the quality and type of services that they are able to offer to their customers.
To date, some 3,000 women have filed applications to participate in the Women of Worth program, and the bank has recently expanded it to regions beyond Essequibo River.
GBTI continues its strong commitment to helping female entrepreneurs build their businesses by supporting programs calculated to produce a real-world impact within the country. Its microlending efforts serve as a strong testament to the bank’s dedication to empowering women seeking to develop their own talents and skills in order to achieve greater prosperity.