VP Jagdeo urges beneficiaries of $250K grants to start, expand businesses

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Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

The Government on Saturday took its $250,000 small business cash grant to Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) and Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo has urged recipients to ensure that they utilise the money to either start a new business venture or expand a current one.

He was at the time addressing residents at the Uitvlugt Community Centre, West Coast Demerara (WCD), where the cash grant initiative was rolled out. The meeting focused on small business development.

The Vice President told the gathering that many of the big businesses in the country, especially those in the commercial districts in Georgetown, started off as small ventures such as street and market vendors.

He noted that while the small business cash grant is not a lot, it can go a long way in starting off successful businesses. To this end, Jagdeo implored with beneficiaries to invest the money.

“This money – the grant – that you will get here, it’s not a lot of money. But this money is not to pay bills because if you didn’t get it, you still had to pay your bills. Keep this money separate from paying bills or buying something nice now for yourself or your family.”

“If you didn’t get it, you couldn’t have done that in any case. Try to use this money to make sure that you can grow it in whatever way. So, if it’s a small business you want to start or you want to expand an existing business,” he stressed.

According to VP Jagdeo, this cash grant had helped many families last year to expand their small businesses or even start new ventures.

He outlined that the $250,000 was enough to build a pen, buy enough feed for about one hundred chickens and even buy the chicks themselves. Those persons, he noted, have now grown their poultry stocks and had to build larger pens.

“Not everyone can do chicken so we don’t expect that but you can utilise these resources to do some small business. This is an investment in you and we hope that you can utilise it in that manner because we want people to grow and if you do it well, you’re going to grow into larger businesses.”

Persons at the Uitvlugt Community Centre Ground on Saturday

“This is an opportunity to move forward, to assist yourselves, assist your families and to contribute to the community,” the Vice President asserted.

Jagdeo further reassured recipients of the grants that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government will continue to work with them and ensure that they get the necessary resources, such as technical assistance, to grow.

In fact, the Vice President indicated that the Government will be looking at providing training, especially for those beneficiaries of this small business cash grant so that they can be sustainable.

This commitment was made after a young businesswoman, who has a small contracting business, highlighted difficulties in getting jobs at most Government Ministries.

She is currently a law student at the University of Guyana (UG) and has established a poultry business as well as a small contracting firm to earn a living.

With the exception of the Public Works Ministry which the young woman said has “a very good” pre-qualification programme in place for small contractors to benefit from, there is no avenue to tap into opportunities at the other Ministries.

The businesswoman underscored the need for more systems to be put in place to facilitate small contractors at the various Ministries.

The young businesswoman raising her concerns

In response, VP Jagdeo recognised the need to create similar provisions for small businesses to benefit from small contracts as well.

“We push Public Works to get that done so that we can integrate small contractors [into the tendering process] … [Contracts] below $5 million at Public Works now, it’s so simple. We pushed them to do that, and at the other Ministries, we may have to do the same thing,” he stated.

However, more than this, the Vice President outlined the need to train recipients of the small business cash grant.

“If you get the resources such as the cash grant, we have to help people with the process… We have to work with people. So, maybe a couple of seminars and training sessions organised by [Industry and Commerce Minister Oneidge Walrond]. I’m going to talk to Minister Walrond because that’s her responsibility and then to train people how to grow… We have to work with people to train them how to grow,” Jagdeo posited.

In recent weeks, the Government has rolled out this cash grant for small business development in Regions Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), and 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) that not only benefitted hundreds of persons but also injected millions of dollars into the regional economies.