The first-ever Guyana Diaspora Sustainability and Investment Conference 2023, which was held in Kensington Town Hall in London, has concluded with many of its objectives achieved and potential partnerships between Guyana and institutions such as the London Stock Exchange explored.
Held under the theme ‘Securing Guyana’s future through diaspora engagement’, the two-day conference, which was organized by HenleyCaribbean Sustainable Ventures Ltd, concluded on November 19, having brought together a diverse group, including Guyanese policymakers, local and foreign entrepreneurs and academics, to hold discussions on how the expertise and capital the diaspora possesses can be leveraged towards Guyana’s development.
According to a statement following the conference, Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Peter Ramsaroop had talks with Ibukun Adebayo, the Finance and Investment Strategy Director of the London Stock Exchange Group, and Adebayo “is keen to work with the Government of Guyana to assist with improving the country’s international credit profile.”
It was further revealed that, through HenlyCaribbean, the aim is to forge strategic partnerships with other institutions besides the London Stock Exchange, including the Universities of Reading and London as well as select Chambers of Commerce. This would create opportunities for Guyanese to benefit from key training and development opportunities in the diaspora.
Dr Ramsaroop and Dr. Rosh Khan have made presentations on Guyana’s current economic landscape and investment opportunities in a diverse range of sectors, including agriculture, education, renewable energy, technology, and infrastructure.
Another development coming out of the conference is a commitment from the Head of the Diaspora Unit in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rosalinda Rasul, for the Government to explore effective ways of engaging the diaspora and having further discussions on collaboration in economic development, education and healthcare.
Conference Chairman David Roberts revealed that the vision for the conference is to have it be the forerunner in the effort to mobilise the Guyana diaspora to engage and partner with the Government of Guyana on development issues. Plans are already afoot, in fact, for the Guyana Diaspora Sustainability & Investment Conference of 2024.
During his presentation, Roberts emphasized the importance of the diaspora’s role in Guyana’s progress, and emphasized the need for greater collaboration between the Government, Private Sector, and the diaspora community.
“Ours is the goal to play a crucial role in assisting in shaping Guyana’s interconnectedness with the United Kingdom, cultural diversity and socio-economic development,” the conference Chairman said.
In addition to discussions on investment opportunities and diaspora engagement, talks were had on renewable energy, environmental conservation, eco-tourism and green technology, with University of Reading’s Dr Emmanuel Essah and Dr Stefan Smith featuring prominently in those discussions.
Areas in which the diaspora could help Guyana with knowledge and skill transfer were also discussed, including strategies for “improving customer relations at Government institutions, building educational partnerships, and collaborative research initiatives with the University of Guyana.”
Case studies were also presented to showcase successful projects initiated by the diaspora in Guyana. Those included business ventures, community development projects, and philanthropic efforts.
There were also business matchmaking sessions that allowed discussions between investors in the diaspora and local entrepreneurs. One such discussion was initiated when a representative of a private UK firm expressed an interest in partnering with a Guyanese company to develop a hydroelectric plant.
Another discussion sparked by the conference involved Alex Graham of Tagman Media and blended finance company AgriLedger, on entering a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop new agricultural services in Guyana and the Caribbean.
Meanwhile, the diaspora raised various concerns they have about doing business in Guyana, including concerns about bureaucratic hurdles, the need for improved infrastructure, the fast pace at which the development is moving, and ensuring the inclusivity of all diaspora groups.
“However, participants also highlighted the numerous opportunities, such as untapped markets, innovative partnerships, and the potential for sustainable development,” the statement said.
Among the recommendations coming out of the conference is one for the formation of a task force with specialised skills to follow up on the initiatives discussed, a comprehensive diaspora engagement strategy that would include the ideas generated during the conference, and facilitating continued dialogue between the Government, diaspora and stakeholders.