Most medium-sized businesses can sustain themselves – Walrond

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Oneidge Walrond

Even though the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) has said more government support is needed to help medium-sized businesses grow, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Oneidge Walrond has a different view on the matter.

In an interview with this publication on October, GCCI President Timothy Tucker lamented that “medium businesses suffer more than anyone else, because they are in that unique place where they’re not small enough to get government help, but they’re not big enough to have easy access to capital in the banking system, so it its unique place for medium businesses in the country.”

Walrond, when asked on Saturday last about what support is available from her Ministry for medium-scaled businesses, expressed her opinion that majority of these enterprises can sustain themselves.

“There haven’t been, at least from my Ministry, specific incentives or strategies to make sure that the medium-scale business is sustained because most of them, because they’ve grown, they are able to sustain themselves,” she noted.

Notwithstanding, the Commerce Minister said the local content policy should provide opportunities for these category of businesses to benefit from the oil and gas sector.

“The idea is that they continue to take advantage of the oil and gas sector and be sub-contractors. We, at the government level, have maintained and insisted on a policy of local content in the sense that when the big companies come to Guyana, that they have to use our local contractors our local companies including the medium-size companies,” Walrond added.

“That policy alone helps to sustain our medium businesses,” the Minister emphasised.
A 2018 Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Report had documented that most businesses in Guyana are small and medium sized (SME) and that they operate in a less than auspicious business climate, and their failure rate is high.

The IDB Report noted that two of the reasons that financial intermediaries are reluctant to grant credit to SMEs are the perceived higher risk of failure and lack of adequate collateral.
Meanwhile, commenting on the general aspect of entrepreneurship in Guyana, the Minister explained that there are many avenues available to help budding businesspersons.

“We have the entrepreneurship and innovation fund, we have the green tech fund, this for people who come up with initiatives and business ideas that are environmentally-friendly and many other initiatives for the youth that is coming out of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport and also the Ministry of Labour, recognizing that entrepreneurship is the way to drive and to catapult our economy,” she posited.

“In the Ministry, we have business incubator centres where persons can come and try-out without worrying about overhead cost because we will meet those cost and they can see for a year how their business operate in an area and be able to move on,” she further disclosed.

Walrond noted too that one of the main focuses is to help small businesses expand to medium-sized operations.

“Our idea is having small [businesses] to grow and mature to be medium-size businesses. Most startup businesses faulter and fail, and so the government has decided that is the kind of support that we are going to give to small businesses so that they can into a medium business.”