For many entrepreneurs, starting and maintaining a successful, long-term business is the ultimate dream. However, with little or no experience in this area, it may be frustrating and appear farfetched.
This is why Alternative Measures, a local agency based in Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice), was created. Alternative Measures was birthed with the intention of providing assistance with the management and affairs of small businesses.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Kevin DeJonge explained that Alternative Measures was established following the realisation that many persons may have ideas, but lack the capacity and knowledge to venture out on their own to start and run an effective business. As such, Alternative Measures is there to provide alternative ways of conducting business.
The objectives are to lend support to businesses in need, provide training for employees and members to encourage a more professional environment, capacity building and to aid in transforming ideas into viable business ventures.
Alternative Measures offers marketing tips and advice as well as first-hand training under its educational agency, MC’s Educational Institute.
“We have something known as Professional Ethics, which we teach here also, and this is preparing youths for the world of work. So far, our youths come out pretty responsible,” DeJonge recently told the Sunday Times Magazine during an interview at the Educational Institute.
The agency has also partnered with the Guyana Small Business Resource Centre in offering entrepreneurial courses, Accounting, Customer Service and Business Registration, among others. Entrepreneurs can also benefit from business advice such as how to prepare a business plan and documentation such as for the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
“Getting your business registration done, you can fill the forms right here…”, DeJonge related.
Additionally, services such as photocopying, digital posters, preparation of and maintenance of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter handles are offered; as well as the printing of documents and business cards.
“Basically, we’re just trying to help persons. Our tag line is, ‘Alternative Measures – Connecting you to your dreams’. When it was established, it was with the thought of helping small businesses to grow,” DeJonge explained.
He noted that the approximately 12-member team includes teachers drawn from the Educational Institute.
“The goal really, is to have a team of professionals who can come under the one heading and you can have all these different companies (collaborating), so that we can more or less help small businesses. So, as much as I am the visionary behind it, I would encourage my staff to not let us pay much attention to the titles. I encourage everyone to pitch in. Their input is just as important as mine,” DeJonge noted.
Additional services include product distribution across Linden and vegetable delivery across Linden. Sales opportunities are also offered through the Alternative Measures Mini Mart, as well as business products advertising and the creation of labels and barcodes, amongst others.
Alternative Measures also invests in the enhancement of the appearance of products to make them more marketable and profitable, in terms of packaging and labelling. Presently, it has established the Wilson’s brand of coconut oil, made from the produce of a local vendor in Linden. The product, which is available in wholesale and retail quantities, is now being sold at leading supermarkets in Linden, including James and Sons, KD&J Supermarket and other leading stores.
Alternative Measures has also marketed the coconut oil at the New Guyana Marketing Corporation GMC (New GMC) in Georgetown as well as overseas. According to DeJonge, there’s presently a demand for the product on the overseas market and the agency is looking to have it modified to suit this market. The greatest challenge with the coconut oil, DeJonge explained however, is getting a ready supply of the raw material as he pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic would have haltered supplies. He said Alternative Measures is also looking at “crab oil” production since it is also a product in demand.
“We experiment on ourselves first. So, the same way we would give small business advice, it’s because we would have gone through the same process. What we would’ve learned is what we’re trying to teach,” DeJonge said.
Alternative Measures is also actively involved in assisting businesses with marketing their products at the New GMC.
“We are currently trying to do a branch of what we call the New Guyana Market (in Linden) …that would be our version of it. We’re trying to get everything local that’s produced not just in Linden. Let’s say you come from overseas and you want to see what local products Linden/Guyana got, you must be able to come there. So, local producers will have a place where their stuff is being sold…We spoke already to New GMC, and they’re on board. So they’ll be helping us with the branding and so on,” DeJonge related.
The branch is expected to be situated at the Wismar Market in Linden.
He explained that Alternative Measures has lots more in the pipeline, including a major farmland initiative, a shade house project and pig rearing amongst others.
“Come this year-end, we are moving in the direction of adding value to pork. We’ve experimented on it, so we will have a by-product of the pork coming this year-end,” DeJonge noted optimistically.
“Linden has a lot of potential. What we don’t have is this whole togetherness. So, we are trying to do things to let people see that it can be achieved. All we got to do is come together to do it. That is why we are here. Alternative Measures speaks for itself, it’s an alternative way of doing things…we’re trusting that as we get out there, people are going to be wise and decide to come on board,” DeJonge noted.
He opined that you cannot do business alone to be successful, but you must have a capable team, which is why Alternative Measures has taken such a direction.