New Guyanese economy: Family-owned, small businesses must change with the times – President, GMSA head

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President Dr Irfaan Ali addressing the GMSA Annual Awards Ceremony on Friday evening (OP Photo)

As local companies are being urged to prepare themselves to take advantage of the many opportunities that have and will become available in Guyana, President Dr Irfaan Ali has challenged small and family-owned businesses to change their approach so that they can get a larger chunk of benefits during this transformation period.

The Head of State made this remark at the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) 26th Annual Awards Ceremony on Friday evening at the Ramada Princess Hotel, Providence, East Bank Demerara.

He focused his address on changing the paradigm within Guyana’s advancing economy to foster transformation and growth in a sustainable manner.

Addressing concerns of small and medium-sized businesses not being able to tap into the benefits from available opportunities, President Ali challenged that they change their approach instead and merge resources.

“Does the environment and the opportunities that we’re talking about create a hindrance to small and medium sized businesses because of competitive advantages? So, we have 25 small and medium-sized machining shop that can come together and bring their resources together, and create one large machining shop that can take the jobs that big industries are taking, where [would] that put us? That immediately take the country at another scale,” he stressed.

The Head of State went onto talk about family-owned businesses also following suit to enhance their capacity to competitive in Guyana’s evolving economy.

“Yes, the family businesses are good. But time is changing, circumstances is changing. And if 10 small businesses can come together and take away 35% or 30% share in that market, aren’t they better off? There is better competitive advantage… Sometimes, individually, we are satisfied with a small share… But it’s not about being satisfied with a small share, it is missing out on opportunities,” he stated.

But the President noted that in order for this work, then it needs to be strategically led by leaders within the private sector, who can change this course of direction.

In fact, President of GMSA, Rafeek Khan, had shared similar sentiments, calling on local companies to ready themselves to for this paradigm shift.

GMSA President Rafeek Khan

“The Manufacturing and Services sector must start preparing and redefining their strategies to benefit from the expanded local opportunities in the oil sector and the non-oil sector alike. We must embrace the paradigm shift in our thought process and understand that through local partnership and collaboration, there will be great leverage to improve and enhance capability to become globally competitive,” Khan outlined at the event.

Moreover, the GMSA President went onto highlight that the apparent disconnect between small and medium businesses warrants collaboration between the private sector and government to work together to bridge that gap.

Against this backdrop, President Ali reassured that his government stands ready and willing to engage the private sector to ensure that they adapt the necessary changes required to them succeed.

“At the end of the day, we have to build one common theme in this country. We are all winners… We have to develop a winning culture. In this room, how do we see ourselves? Do we see ourselves as competitors or Members of a manufacturing industry, who no doubt will have to come together – human resource, financial resource, technical resources – if we want to win, we have to come together and build the capacity and the industry to win and we can do it,” he declared.

Stating that he is not asking for them to love the government, the Head of State urged those gathered at Friday’s event to collectively embrace the culture of moving forward. He contended that if local private sector representatives can sit a room to laugh and dine together then they can certainly get together to build their capacity.

Moreover, he turned to the younger generation and challenged them to take advantage and tap into new industries that are making headways around the world such as wellness sector. He posited that with investments brings more international traffic to Guyana and foreigners shifting here, such endeavours would prove to be profitable.

“We have to create wellness centres. We have fresh water on the highway, we have greeny, we can produce organic products to sustain the wellness centre, where are the investors? Where is the paradigm shift. I’m telling you about something can create wealth! I want to see the young people make use of these opportunities… Do a little bit of research. A wellness centre will do extremely well,” he contended.