Human Services launches first business incubator dedicated to women

-Free WIIN App also takes off

THE country’s first ever business incubator dedicated to women – a facility by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security that is poised to help thousands of women in the coming months to start up, sustain and market small businesses – was launched on Monday under the auspices of President Dr. Mohammed Irfaan Ali and subject minister, Dr. Vindhya Persaud.

President Ali delivering remarks on Monday.

The event also saw the launch of the Ministry’s free WIIN App that will link women from all across the country, allowing them to promote their businesses and garner support from both local and international markets.  The App which will be managed by the women business owners is expected to be available on phones in a few weeks.

Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud during her presentation on Monday.

The idea of supporting women in this manner was conceptualized by Minister Persaud during the height of the pandemic last year when she recruited 120 women from across the country to produce thousands of face masks for various agencies.  

President Irfaan Ali and Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud officially opening the business incubator on Monday.

During the launch at the Guyana Women Leadership Institute (GWLI), Cove and John, East Coast Demerara, Minister Persaud reflected on how she thought that the paid initiative with the women should not stop there; thus came a series of other rollouts by her ministry, including the recently launched Women’s Innovation and Investment Network (WIIN), a free comprehensive training program with no admission criteria that is open to women of all ages. All the certified courses are accredited.

So far, the WIIN programme has seen more than 4,000 applicants countrywide with over 500 already trained in Regions Three, Four and Five, Six in ICT, graphics design, professional care, among others, and according to Minister Persaud, the remaining number of women will receive their training before the end of this year.

“I wanted women to move away from conventional types of employment; to start to think like bosses. But it’s not only about the training. Do you train people and then just leave them? What next?”

President Ali and Minister Persaud share a photo with some of the women who showed up at yesterday’s launch.

The business incubator is the next step, allowing those who come through the WIIN programme with an official certificate to start up a business with assistance from qualified personnel attached to GWLI. In fact, the beneficiaries of the incubator do not necessarily have to do the WIIN programme. Women will be assisted to source funding and networks to improve and expand their businesses.

President Ali noted that Government is trying to create a winning culture among women. He offered that the country’s booming economy will necessitate all that the incubator is providing for and noted how the economy is transitioning into a level of sophistication that will require “an ordinary task to be done extraordinarily.”

Minister of Tourism, Industry, and Commerce Oneidge Walrond (first, right) and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Human Services Shannielle Hoosein-Outar (second, right) along with a section of the audience.

In order to meet the demands of the sophisticated companies that will come to do business in Guyana, the president said these initiatives and programmes are critical to giving entrepreneurs the early advantage they need to build their brand so it can be sustainable.

“In creating a winning culture in Guyana, we have to move from the ‘I’ concept to the more ‘we and us’ concept. The changes and opportunities that will come….are coming for all of us,” he said.

What is a business incubator?

Senior GWLI Training Officer Sanjay Pooran explained that the basic concept behind it is to provide support and help to any woman entrepreneur who needs help to start up a business like writing a business plan, accessing funding for the business, or help to market, brand, package or label it.  

The country’s first business incubator dedicated to women was officially opened on Monday.

According to him, the entrepreneur can call GWLI or visit the officers who are trained in marketing and business planning development for advice and guidance. While the ministry is currently looking at a funding component, GWLI will in the meantime refer the entrepreneur to sources of funding like IPED, Small Business Bureau, among others.

Exciting Initiative

Minister of Tourism, Industry, and Commerce Oneidge Walrond was among the dignitaries who attended the launch and expressed how pleased she was with the idea. “It’s an amazing initiative where women entrepreneurs can be together and come up with ideas. When you start off in business, you don’t have all of the capital, all of the support that is needed and what the incubator does is provide access to all of that,” she pointed out.

She noted that the entrepreneurs are able to benefit from the provision of internet and other resources for ideas; all of the things that young and new entrepreneurs need and may not be familiar with. “They’re now trying to catch their feet and this incubator is going to provide that kind of support.

Minister Walrond further observed that women have traditionally been disadvantaged so far as access to resources is concerned. “So this amazing initiative is really going to go a far way to building our women entrepreneurs. It’s exciting; it’s really good.”  

School of the Nations Director Pamela O’Toole was also in attendance yesterday as her school is running WIIN courses in child care, care for the elderly, Microsoft Office, administrative assistant and computer.

“What was most inspiring is that when the ministry trains people, the other ministries and regional officers were able to use their skills and give them jobs like making masks and printing. It’s a wonderful initiative by the ministry not only to train the women but to support them,” O’Toole shared.

“I think the whole idea is really tremendous; Dr. Persaud is just so inspiring and her staff is just so dedicated and really going above and beyond to ensure that these projects are successful.

We at Nations are so pleased and proud to be a part of it,” she continued.

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