Over 150 female-owned businesses on show at WE LIFT 2

The Ministry of Human Services and Social Security’s Women Empowerment, Leading, Innovating, Flourishing Together “WE LIFT” 2 Expo has been labeled a huge success, with more than 150 businesses on show, according to Minister, Honorable, Dr. Vindhya Persaud.  

The event concluded on Saturday and saw the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal converted to a sea of purple to recognise the innovation and accomplishments of women and girls on International Women’s Day, which is celebrated on March 8.

The number of businesses this year have doubled from the inaugural year. They ranged from food, wellness and health spas, jewellery, arts and craft, services, construction, beauty products and much more. This fittingly exemplified the symbolic meaning of International Women’s Day, which emphasises the call to action for accelerating women’s equality, and narrowing the gender gap to achieve sustainable development.

Minister Persaud said, “this event exceeded my expectations. There are so many empowered women here with their businesses. They overwhelmingly showcased their innovative and creative prowess. What makes it even more beautiful is the fact that people have surmounted their challenges and they are here with us at WE LIFT 2. WE LIFT 1 was amazing, WE LIFT 2 is simply phenomenal. In addition to the businesses here, what would have struck me was people coming up to me and saying ‘we are here from Region Three, we’re here from Region Five, so many regions. People are here to support women.

Minister of Human Services, Dr. Vindhya Persaud encourages the packed Arthur Chung Conference Centre to strike the pose symbolizing breaking the bias

In her speech, she exhorted those in attendance to be conscious of gender inequality where it exists and to be a part of the rising tide against it, explaining that equality can only be achieved if everyone plays a part in this movement and take a formidable stance against it. Hundreds of persons joined Dr. Persaud in making the sign against gender inequality by the joining of their wrists.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Shannielle Hoosein-Outar noted activities of this nature serve as an accelerator for women-owned businesses.

“WE LIFT gives these businesswomen an opportunity to showcase their products and services on a scale in a female-friendly environment that has never before been seen and has grown tremendously since its inception last year, with the number of businesses more than doubling.”

The activity got off to an empowering start with the “Amplify Her” show which saw the crowd listening to the success stories and messages from a dozen of Guyana’s promising young women who are excelling in their respective areas including sport, medicine, music, advocacy, poetry, science and technology. They are breaking the gender stereotypes in all of these spheres.

19-year-old poet Quanisha Patterson who won the Guyana Talent Search competition, captivated the thousands in attendance including members of the diplomatic corps with her performance of “In HER words” which spoke to the subliminal messaging in some of the popular songs in today’s society and women’s empowerment.

The ‘PAINT FOR PURPOSE INITIATIVE’ was launched with Minister Persaud and Prime Minister, Retired Brigadier Mark Phillips, unveiling a ‘call 914’ mural done by Roberto Teekah to aid in the fight to eradicate domestic violence. Dozens of young artists will be creating these awareness murals across Guyana.

Other facets of the formal programme included a dazzling fashion show featuring the work of new female Guyanese designers. A novel presentation entitled “Breaking the Bias”, featured young rap artist from Black Bush Polder, Pavani encouraging women to shatter gender bias as women in traditionally male dominated work environments confidently came on stage with depicting the sign against gender bias.

Twenty-one-year-old twin sisters, Daverani and Daveyani Singh, who opened their own fashion line two years ago and operate online, were excited to be part of the exhibition and expressed their appreciation to the ministry for providing an inclusive environment for women in business.

Zoya Samaroo of Corialis, an environmentally friendly jewellery store that is in the business of recycling washed up broken bottles on the seashore into handmade pieces was in awe of the event. Samaroo said, “I am so happy to be here at WE LIFT 2, the atmosphere is amazing, the businesses are astonishing and the response from the patrons has been phenomenal. This gives me a platform to show the country and the world what I am doing and I am really looking forward to next year.”

Samantha Reid, Chief Executive Officer of Sawa Investments, a Region Six-based construction company that employs women at every level and recently expanded to Georgetown, praised the ministry for its push towards achieving gender equality.

“This is boosting my confidence, my company, it is boosting other women. Stuff like this I want to be part of, I must say kudos to the ministry, kudos to the minister and kudos to all women,” she said.

Minister of Human Services, Dr. Vindhya Persaud engages with one of the female-owned businesses on display

Arianna Seeraj, one of the patrons at the event highlighted, “I would just like to say it was a well-executed event, it was so refreshing to come out and see all these women-owned businesses having a platform to showcase their work, it is really good because I didn’t know half of these businesses existed and it’s a really good initiative by the ministry, kudos to Minister Persaud and her team.” Meanwhile, patrons also benefitted from engagements with staff of the ministry who enlightened them of the services offered including Child Care and Protection and the two new apps from the Ministry, ‘WIINGY’ and ‘iMattergy.’