LFU launches Economic Development Programme in Linden
The Linden Fund USA (LFU) has launched a new Economic Development Programme, through its Linden Fund Guyana Office as a means of supporting economic recovery in Linden.
LFU in a statement to the press noted that the “essential programme will serve as a catalyst for development in the community, especially as the International Monetary Fund has projected 8.1% growth in Guyana’s economy over 2021”.
Under the initiative, the body said it will provide expert leadership in ensuring that the community of Linden can capitalise on this growth, securing the development and expansion of businesses, job creation and an increased cash flow around the community.
The programme comes on the heels of the announcement of major infrastructural development works in the region led by the Government of Guyana, with support from the Caribbean Development Bank. This infrastructural work will oversee the upgrade of the Linden to Mabura Road, estimated at approximately US$190 million.
The upgrade will serve as a catalyst of growth in the community, promoting an increase in the movement of goods and services between the two locations and further afield. LFU said it intends to work to ensure that development in Linden provides an environment for local growth in tandem with national growth, especially as Guyana transforms into a major oil-producing and exporting nation.
Through its Linden office, the LFU will focus its efforts on community engagement, small business growth and workforce development. According to the LFU, there will be a concerted effort to leverage diaspora relations and local partnerships with all stakeholders to support the development and direct investment into businesses and projects in the community.
Established in 2009, the LFU has an impressive track record of impactful projects including the mobilisation of over $129.2 million in financing and materials for projects focused on health, community development and education.
These actions are expected to expand as the organisation sets its sights on partnership and engagement with international oil and gas companies now residing in Guyana, the offices of the Mayor of Linden, Regional Chairman, the Linden Technical Institute and all other stakeholders from the various sectors across the country.
Managing community and stakeholder engagement is Onika Stellingburg, who serves as Economic Development Programme Manager.
Stellingburg has previously served as an Advisor on Renewable Energy, Sustainable Development and Forests at Guyana’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. She is an expert climate change negotiator and is also skilled in stakeholder engagement, international policy development and multilateral diplomacy. She has substantial experience working with the Government of Guyana, mainstreaming sustainable development into multi-year national budgets and ensuring projects and initiatives developed were aligned with national and international plans.
Stellingburg has also previously served with the Caribbean Regional Youth Council, where she worked in partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank, the Commonwealth Secretariat, International Labour Office and the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to execute an immersive 3-day conference focused on decent work and economic growth, mobilising US$180,000 to oversee the execution of this conference.
According to the LFU, initial upcoming action of the new Economic Development Programme is expected to be a business diagnosis survey and quarterly economic development forums to connect businesses with investors and other interested partners. These activities will help LFU to identify needs, challenges and areas for growth across Linden. The data will then be used to drive project development, partnership pursuits and the investment of resources in the community.
The mission of the Linden Fund USA is to play a leadership role in the revitalisation of Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice), which includes Linden and its surrounding communities. The LFU intends to form strategic partnerships with other entities with similar interests as well as to provide funding for projects, programmes and initiatives that promote and enhance the academic, social, medical and economic standing and wellbeing of Region 10.