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The Journey Begins

by terrence richard blackman
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Screenshot 2018-11-03 10.27.21Thanks for joining us! A year ago my colleague Nigel Killikelly and I had the idea for a magazine whose focus would be on identifying and solving the challenges of business formation and development in Guyana. To this end we registered a business called Soca Multimedia in Georgetown, Guyana. The idea languished until my most recent trip to Guyana to participate in the Green Guyana Expo & International Small Business Summit. Today this envisioned magazine begins its life as a Blog.

This May 2018 video is but a small example of the ways in which the social, political and legal environment stifles and stymies legitimate business growth and in particular, frustrates small business operation and growth. How is this trade that stretches from the farms in Berbice to the markets in Georgetown to be organized optimally? This is the problem to be solved.  These are the questions to which this Blog will address itself. As expressed by the City Council person in the video there is also a racial dimension to business formation and development in Guyana. We will not ignore this elephant in the room. How do we escape this ethnic trap? Our guiding principles:

  1. We will take a look in the mirror, we believe that the initial conditions matter, and that it is important for us to document and disseminate with clarity and precision, what we have  inherited;
  2. We intend to amplify pathways to value addition in our various industries, we believe that this is our, Guyanese, competitive advantage. The sugar industry provides us with an existential example–diversify and innovate or die. We must move up the value chain if we are to survive;
  3. We will embrace and unapologetically argue for good governance, we believe that government and its policies should enable and empower its citizens;  and
  4. We will adopt a holistic approach: our focus areas–the global external environment, internal social development, institution building, and the regulatory environment .

Ours will be an open forum for serious and thoughtful discussion of these issues.

In this vein our initial posts highlight the work of Saran Nurse, Guyanese business woman and a doctoral student at the New School for Social Research in New York. Her work sets the context for the work of this Guyana Business Journal. In this article she argues that “Diasporas can play an integral role in the economic development of developing countries by helping to alleviate poverty through creating employment and by facilitating human capital formation, and by catalyzing innovation and entrepreneurship”.  She further argues that “given the skills, expertise, talent and other resources that lie in Guyana’s huge migrant population, policymakers must find creative ways of leveraging the power of the diaspora for the betterment of the country”.  Her  work looks at how members of the diaspora can augment development initiatives by helping to grow the entrepreneurial sector in Guyana while still maintaining permanent homes in their countries-of -destination. Ms. Nurse posits that a diaspora engagement strategy should privilege public-private economic partnerships and that they should include the following elements:

  • developing mechanisms to effectively gather information on diaspora skills, expertise, talent;
  • establishing mechanisms for trust building in relationships between members of the diaspora and folks at “home”; and
  • developing investment vehicles to encourage members of the diaspora to contribute  financial and social capital to help create and grow local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in their country -of- origin.


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