Georgetown, Guyana – On Saturday, December 2nd, 2023, a momentous event took place in Guyana with the graduation of 48 women from the Road to Finance program and 51 women from the Road to Leadership program, followed by the official launch of the groundbreaking Bankability Fund for Women (BF4W).
The ‘Road to Finance’ initiative, spanning four weeks with additional self-paced online learning, has equipped women with invaluable insights and practical guidance to secure financing for their businesses. This comprehensive training empowers women by honing their abilities to identify business situations, understand financing options, develop financial plans, deliver compelling investment pitches, negotiate effectively, and expand professional networks.
Similarly, the ‘Road to Leadership’ program, designed across multiple sessions, has focused on nurturing leadership qualities, enhancing communication skills, advocating for change, and fostering confidence among women entrepreneurs. This initiative aims to break through gendered structural barriers, empowering women to thrive as leaders and catalysts for change in their respective environments.
The Bankability Fund for Women, launched during this event, emerges as a transformative financing mechanism aimed at supporting and empowering women entrepreneurs in Guyana. Developed with support from the IDB office, ActionINVEST Caribbean Inc., and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women (CBFW), this fund stands poised to provide eligible women entrepreneurs with the necessary investment to propel their businesses forward. Following rigorous assessment of their eligibility, women entrepreneurs will be guided on the process of incorporation to shield themselves from personal liability, a crucial shift from the prevalent sole proprietorship model. The fund not only provides financial support but also guides businesses in cultivating an auditable financial history, paving the way for sustained empowerment. The Bankability Fund for Women is more than a financial resource; it’s a gateway to sustainable success for women entrepreneurs in Guyana.
Cherie Blair, Founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, expressed her enthusiasm for this collaboration, stating, “We are thrilled to be collaborating with ActionINVEST Caribbean Inc. to bring this opportunity to the women entrepreneurs we work with in Guyana. Increasing women entrepreneurs’ access to finance will massively boost that impact.”
Davitri Doerga, CEO of ActionINVEST Caribbean Inc., emphasized the significance of this initiative in fostering growth and innovation in the economy. “This initiative is a crucial step in empowering Guyanese women entrepreneurs, driving growth and innovation in our economy. We’re committed to transforming the landscape of women-led businesses and fostering a future of strong female leadership in our nation’s development.”
Lorena Solórzano-Salazar, Country Representative of IDB Guyana, stated that “Strengthening capacity of women entrepreneurs and creating opportunities for their networking and inclusive access to finance are imperatives for women-led Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to thrive. This partnership of the IDB, ActionINVEST Caribbean Inc. and the Cherie Blair Foundation therefore sets momentum for women in Guyana to build their business model with new skills and mindset needed for growth and success.”
In a reflective statement after a 3-week journey in the Road to Leadership program, Ms. Roberta Nicolls highlighted key insights into leadership dynamics. Emphasizing the absence of a standardized leadership blueprint due to the uniqueness of individual traits, she underscored the necessity for preparedness, diligence, and equipped tools to enact positive organizational change. Ms. Nicolls stressed the pivotal role of self-awareness in effective leadership, advocating for seeking feedback from colleagues and those being led to facilitate open dialogue and navigate challenging situations. Addressing the additional challenges faced by female leaders compared to their male counterparts, she reframed these hurdles as opportunities for honing endurance and refining their leadership style.
Ullanda Arokium, reflecting on her experience with the Road to Finance and Road to Leadership programs, highlighted their transformative impact on her journey as a woman leader. She articulated the pivotal role of these initiatives in equipping her with vital skills and insights crucial for navigating the complex terrain of finance and leadership. Emphasizing the significance of female leadership in the contemporary landscape, she underscored its importance in today’s world, where diverse perspectives and inclusive leadership are integral for driving meaningful change and fostering a more equitable and empowered society. Ms. Arokium’s testament echoes the broader impact of these programs in empowering women to lead with confidence and efficacy in the evolving business landscape.
The graduation of these women and the launch of the BF4W mark a significant moment in Guyana’s entrepreneurial landscape. With the support of these programs and resources, women entrepreneurs are poised to thrive, leading to a stronger, more vibrant economy for all. [Press Release]