Building the human capital is going to be the secret to Guyana’s success. This is the firm conviction of UK High Commissioner to Guyana, Jane Miller, who pointed out that Guyanese, especially women, must be prepared to reap the benefits of the country’s massive economic growth.
She applauded the Government’s efforts toward building the country’s human resources, which according to her, “is putting women at the heart of this country’s economic growth”.
Miller delivered remarks at Tuesday’s launching of GTT’s Mobile Money Guyana (MMG) content to HerVenture — a mobile learning application that supports women entrepreneurs to access the skills, confidence, and networks they need to grow their businesses.
Available on Android and iOS platforms, the app provides users with essential business training and support through bite-size lessons, while promoting the user’s confidence to transform their business. The HerVenture app was developed by the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and was launched in Guyana in 2021 thanks to funding and support from the ExxonMobil Foundation.
MMG, Guyana’s first mobile financial service, was introduced in 2013 and enables users to purchase credit, and send and receive money in addition to paying bills using their mobile phones.
With the country having one of the fastest rates of economic growth in the world primarily due to the massive oil discoveries, the diplomat stressed that Guyanese need to be prepared and ready.
She said, “And you can’t have half the population left behind and that is why having women so involved and so trained is so important. Building the human capital is going to be the secret to Guyana’s success. All the different initiatives that are happening are party to that story.”
Simple and easy to use
In praising HerVenture, she said that it is simple and easy to use, adding that it has surpassed expectations. “You have diverse initiatives available for women and for men for them to grow, for them to learn. What I love about the app is that it is easy to use and it is complimentary to so many other initiatives that are happening at the moment,” Miller said as she commended the Government on its various initiatives to encourage women’s development.
Reflecting on her time in Tanzania, Miller said that the African state is famous for its mobile money which “makes things so much easier and transparent”. Against this backdrop, she was delighted that HerVenture has been expanded to include the mobile money application.
“For countries like Guyana, which are very cash-based economies and particularly for women who don’t have bank accounts, the ability to have money on your phone and to make payments and then to have records of all those payments… So, it’s a mixture of simplicity, it’s a mixture of transparency and it enables women to have businesses and to have those transactions happen.”
Meanwhile, Human Services and Social Security Minister, Dr Vindhya Persaud said that the addition of the MMG content to HerVenture will see a “profusion of women who are jumping into the workforce doing so in an informed way… and doing so in a very empowered way where they are equipped with the tools to start, to grow and to sustain their businesses.”
She expressed that she has always believed that “our women are our untapped potential”.
She said that that belief proved to be true following her Ministry’s launch of the Women’s Innovation and Investment Network (WIIN)—a massive programme that seeks to empower women and girls and help them become financially independent. The programme offers free training in information and communications technology, décor and design, graphics, beauty and wellness, professional care, garment and hospitality, and administration.
“The applicants [for WIIN] just came in and the partnerships that we would have had and the success stories we would have heard. I feel that this kind of momentum we have started on, must not be stopped because it needs to filter down from women to girls. So, that the girls who will be the women of tomorrow understand the myriad opportunities that they have at their disposal. And they can tap into those opportunities and catapult themselves…” Dr Persaud said.
In addition to the free WIIN training programme, she said that the Human Services and Social Security Ministry has launched the WIIN in Business Programme and a Female Business Incubator. The latter, she pointed out, focuses specifically “on inviting women to us to be able to meet those stakeholders who can advance their ability to progress in business.”
“Through those interventions, we would have been able to encourage women to have at their fingertips from NIS to GRA to all of the banks to GTT to so many companies. Because when a woman gets into business, she can sometimes spend months to sometimes years trying to find who to go to and where to go and who to speak to and what kind of guidance she needs to have. We have brought all of those players into one room,” Minister Persaud explained.
She disclosed that the WIIN mobile app has advertised 700 women-owned businesses for free and the next step the Ministry is working on is to get people to shop through the application. Quoting her mother, Dr Persaud therefore encouraged women to “seize the opportunity”.
General Manager for MMG Guyana, Bobita Ram said that the MMG application has grown significantly since its launch back in 2013.
“Today, we process around $1.4 billion in payments and we have around 100,000 customers who use us,” she revealed.
Ram said that MMG is expecting phenomenal growth ahead in an economy and in a worldwide industry that is growing. In partnering with other stakeholders to add MMG to the HerVenture app, she said that she and her team looked at the barriers and challenges facing women entrepreneurs as they seek to grow their businesses.
“We identified ways in which Mobile Money can not only create wealth but also provide them with the tools to increase their efficiency. As you navigate…you will see that we have highlighted how to pick the right Mobile Money provider, how to determine the best way to implement Mobile Money into your business and how to overcome the challenges when you are first implementing Mobile Money and how to maximise the use of Mobile Money to grow that business.”
The General Manager noted that MMG has partnered with SoL (Guyana) and the Demerara Harbour Bridge to offer cashless payments for gas and toll, respectively.
Like Miller, Ram also congratulated the Government on the many initiatives for women’s development. In closing, Ram urged policymakers and corporate Guyana to put their “support solidly” behind MMG because “it’s the wave of the future; it’s safe, reliable, cashless.”
ActionINVEST Caribbean Inc (ACI) is the local delivery partner for the HerVenture app in Guyana. Already, over 3000 persons have downloaded the mobile app. (G1)