Entrepreneurs get $20M in funding from Small Business Bureau

In keeping with its mandate of promoting entrepreneurship and small business development, the Small Business Bureau (SBB) recently handed over $20 million in grants to entrepreneurs under its Green Tech Fund.
This programme is for existing and start-up businesses that are technology and environment-oriented.

Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Oneidge Walrond presenting a Certificate of Participation to Kimwantie Seenarine of Smart Learning Guyana

During a simple ceremony, SBB Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Lowell Powell revealed that of the 85 persons who applied for grants last year, only 20 were successful, having had “very good submissions”. They each received $1 million which will go to starting up or enhancing their businesses.
The CEO reminded them that the SBB was committed to the development of sustainable businesses. He revealed that from 2018 to now, the SBB has been able to help businesses that are creative, office-oriented, and environmentally-friendly.

Small Business Bureau CEO, Dr Lowell Powell

“We will continue working in this area because we have a lot of opportunities here in Guyana.”
He, however, cautioned them that receiving a grant came with hard work, stating that “a lot of time you receive a grant and you think it is free money. But nothing in life is free. There is a time in life when you will have to be accountable for that money”.
“We want to see your progress; we want to see your growth. We know that there are going to be challenges, but just rest assure that you have the support of the Ministry… I want to encourage you to work together.”
According to Dr Lowell, everybody has a dream and he believes that they have a right to fulfil that dream from which they must profit. In this regard, he noted that this is where the Tourism, Industry, and Commerce Ministry will lend its support, whether monetary or otherwise.
Director of Business and Entrepreneur Development at the Ministry, John Edghill stated: “What you have done is take a very noble step. In Guyana, there is not a plethora of innovation, but what you have done is to provide innovation that is very sustainable and done with green practices.”

Cherry Ann Greene of Ride Along GY receiving her certificate from Director of Business and Entrepreneur Development, John Edghill

Edghill assured them that the Government is committed to their development. “We are here as your partners…you are our partners in development,” he noted.
The official highlighted, too, that access to finance was one of the main issues that entrepreneurs face as well as gaining technical skills.
Against this backdrop, he said, “Through the Small Business Bureau and other agencies under our remit, we will increase access to finance and entrepreneur skills development. Opportunities are available to you. We are not just giving you $1 million; we are investing in ideas and innovation.”
Owner of Social Rank Media, Dr Rosh Khan, who was among the judges of the submissions, advised the grant recipients that as entrepreneurs they needed to use their skills to solve people’s problems, seeing these difficulties as opportunities for innovation and to build something that never existed.
While money is important, Dr Khan urged them not to chase after it. He told them that entrepreneurship was the creation of value, and they must work towards achieving this. “So, the more value you create; the more problems you solve. The more innovation you bring to the table, the more money that is going to end up in your hands and in your community….”
The recipients extended gratitude to the SBB for its support. Cherry Ann Greene, CEO of Ride Along GY, said that the grant will allow her to purchase much-needed equipment to start her business which she intends to launch very soon.
According to the young woman, she aims to reduce carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases that have far-ranging environmental and health effects by promoting more pedal cycles in and around Georgetown.
President Dr Irfaan Ali has pledged the Government’s support towards the development of small businesses. With the establishment of a National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Council, the culture of entrepreneurship will be radically reformed to encourage the emergence of new entrepreneurs while supporting existing ones.
The Government intends to table in the National Assembly a Small Business Amendment Bill which, among other things, will expand the range of procurement opportunities allowing small businesses providing small-scale infrastructural works to functionally benefit from Government procurement.