CDB funding project to boost local SMEs in non-traditional exports
With Guyana solely dependent on the six economic sisters – according to President David Granger – the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) is looking to strengthen small and micro enterprises (SMEs) in order to increase non-traditionalCDB-funded project launched to help small and micro enterprise develop in creative and agro-processing sectorsexports, with the development of the local creative industry and agro-processing sector. This initiative will be funded by a US$226,195 from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), through the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Standby Facility for Capacity Building under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).The grant resources will be used via GCCI, towards the cost of improving competitiveness and to enhance the export-readiness of enterprises in creative industries particularly music and art and craft, as well as in agro-processing. The project also seeks to build the capacity of business and trade support of business organisations to deliver value-added support services to the targeted industries.Through its funding, the CDB seeks to assist Guyana’s most export-ready enterprises operating in the identified industries to improve their business and production practices and product quality in line with the market requirements in the European Union (EU), CARIFORUM and French Caribbean Outermost Regions (FCORs)/Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) markets.Participating enterprises and musicians will receive assistance to identify specific “best bet” trade opportunities, particularly those made possible through the EPA. In addition, the participants will receive assistance to develop Export Development Plans which will outline the strategy and actions required for them to successfully enter or deepen their penetration of the targeted markets.This initiative was conceptualised under the GCCI while it was headed by former president Lance Hinds, who is currently the Chairman of GCCI’s Trade and Investment Committee.Delivering remarks at the project launch on Friday at the Herdmanston Lodge Hotel, Hinds pointed out that while the six industries (gold, bauxite, sugar, rice, fish and timber) have supported Guyana’s economy for so many years, it is no secret they will not be able to do so much longer. He posited that it is critical that other sectors are developed for commercial and most importantly, export-led growth.“This initiative seeks to support this imperative by better positioning enterprises to take advantage of trade and development opportunities to compete under the rules, regulations and reality of the Economic Partnership Agreement” said the committee Chairman.The project is expected to develop and initiate implementation of approximately 19 Export Development Plans and three-year Export Development Strategies and Action Plans for the three industries. The project will positively impact the quality of goods and services produced by participants as well as the capacity of firms to identify market opportunities and meet market demands in the EU, CARIFORUM and FCORs/OCTs.Also, the supporting business organisations within each sector will receive training to enhance their capacity to use the marketing information and the results of the export-readiness assessment to lead the implementation of the three-year Export Development Strategy and Action Plan for their particular industry.According to CBD’s Division Chief Technical Cooperation Division, Edward Greene, this project aligns to the bank’s strategy to support initiatives focused on building competitiveness, innovation and entrepreneurship, among women and men and within SMEs.“We do this by providing technical assistance to assess the production capacity of these enterprises, identify genuine market opportunities, and design and implement plans to take advantage of market opportunities,” he stated.Meanwhile, CARIFORUM/CDB representative Percival Marie posited that Guyana should look closely at the thriving music industry in Jamaica that has significantly boosted the country’s economy.“One good reggae artiste in Jamaica earns more foreign exchange for Jamaica than the bauxite industry and the banana industry combined, and that tells you of the potential of the creative industry… (and) for Guyana the potential is no less so,” he noted.In relation to agro-processing, Marie explained that while the potential is here, that alone is not sufficient. He posited that this sector needs to be worked in order for its true potential to be fully reaped.Moreover, GCCI has partnered with several other agencies and is currently collaborating with regional and international development partners to deliver services critical to the growth and development of Guyana’s private sector.GCCI President Vishnu Doerga remarked that, “sustainable business growth is driven by access to training and other business support that provides the necessary skills required to fuel innovation. It is critical that businesses use this support to move towards larger scale, export ready enterprises focused on generating employment and growing revenues.”The project has commenced and is expected to conclude on March 17 next year.