Human Services Ministry launches women empowerment programme

A small business owner explains her product to Minister Persaud

Women’s Innovation and Investment Network (WIIN), a massive new programme by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security that seeks to empower women and girls and help them become financially independent, will be launched on Friday.
In the coming days, it will be piloted in Baramita, Region One (Barima-Waini).
The programme is open to women from all across Guyana. It offers free training in information and communication technology, décor and design, graphics, beauty and wellness, professional care, garment and hospitality, and administration.
The programmes which will be delivered both in-person and online will provide the women with economic benefits along with an enabling environment to help them increase their self-confidence and individuality.
“She will be empowered and able to provide for herself and children,” Human Services and Social Security Minister, Dr Vindhya Persaud said, adding that if a woman is in an abusive relationship, she will be able to use what she learns from WIIN to choose if she wants to leave the relationship.
“If she does make such a choice, she would then be in a better position to care for her needs.”
While there are no admission criteria, emphasis will be placed on women and girls who were unable to complete high school. Courses will be presented in Spanish and various Indigenous languages.  As a long-term goal, the Ministry will be looking to see how it can arrange to translate the modules into the dialects of the Indigenous communities.
According to Minister Persaud, WIIN follows on the heels of WE LIFT, an empowerment exercise that was held at the Guyana Conference Centre that was able to get 75 women-centric businesses together, “from food to salons, making soap; you name it, and they were there. We then realised that we needed to tap into much more than that.”
WIIN has several components to it but every person, irrespective of what course they are doing, would be subject to a core component which will equip them with information on the legislation, their rights, and social issues, including domestic violence and abuse.
“People have to be able to see, seize and create opportunities in preparation of where our country is going and be very creative so that they have a competitive edge in promoting their skills,” Minister Persaud remarked.
Firstly, the Ministry will be rolling out a series of technical vocational training programmes across the country. People can access these through online applications, hard copy applications at Ministry locations, and through community outreaches that have already commenced.
The deadline for submission of applications is Monday, June 14, 2021.
WIIN will provide opportunities for training in both conventional and unconventional avenues. “Whether persons are interested in garment construction, or Information Communications Technology, graphic designing, video editing, photography, interior decorating; we’re moving to cater for what is happening in our country, and what will be opened up,” Minister Persaud explained, noting that they will also be taught how to do a business proposal.
She added: “People are being equipped with the skills so that they can go out there and make a good living, or they can choose to be their own bosses.”
Additional benefits of WIIN include the provision of functional, business, social issues, and legislative literacy. It will also cover areas in anger management, emotional intelligence, coping mechanisms, as well as information on support systems from the Ministry.
Each course will be followed by an assessment and the top five students will be eligible for assistance to start up their businesses.
“WIIN is for them to go out there and become employed or start their own business. We will link them to other funding opportunities, including but not limited to Small Business Bureau. So while it may not be financial assistance, let’s say we’re training them to sew; we will work to give them a sewing machine, fabric, or whatever they need,” the Minister explained.
“The programme will help them to find links to funding sources so that they can get their businesses registered and have a guide on how they can access funding and grow their businesses. This was piloted and was successful, so this is now the full programme that is being rolled out. We will also provide mentorship so that they are not left on their own after this project.”
The WIIN programme is creating an employment opportunity for some of the victims of the recent Sharon’s Mall fire who practiced cosmetology to become trainers.
Currently, the Ministry is in the process of setting up a female-centric business incubator at the Guyana Women’s Leadership where WIIN and other programmes will be rolled out. The Guyana Women’s Leadership Institute will be the lead agency for all of these programmes and while training will happen there, it will also happen in all communities across the country.
Meanwhile, the Ministry is also in the process of creating a digital directory and app for women-owned businesses in Guyana, and female business owners have been urged to send in their information to be added to the directory. This is an initiative at no cost to businesswomen.