Sustainable community-based agriculture and tourism enterprises in the Rupununi, as well as startups will have access to a $60 million fund, which was launched yesterday with the aim of providing financing and technical support under the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).
The Rupununi Innovation Fund (RIF), a collaboration between the government, the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) and Conservation International (CI) – Guyana will support sustainable agro-processing and marketing, fisheries, agro-forestry and nature-based tourism, a joint press release from the government and CI – Guyana said.
The RIF represents a unique partnership, the release said. It noted that government’s contribution was the provision of a waiver of corporate taxes on the income earned from loans granted under the fund; GBTI’s was the investment of $60 million in the fund as seed capital and CI – Guyana’s the co-financing and executing of the US$1.6 million Inter-American Development Bank Multilateral Invest-ment Fund (IDB-MIF) Rupununi Livelihoods Project. “It is envisaged that with the assistance to be provided, sustainable agricultural and tourism enterprises will be created and existing enterprises will be enhanced. These enterprises are expected to contribute to [government’s] efforts to develop a national green, low carbon economy while, at the same time, enhancing the well-being of the people of the Rupununi,” the release said.
The fund is part of the larger Leveraging Natural Capital in Guyana’s Rupununi Project, which aims to encourage indigenous communities to sustain their natural resource dependent livelihoods, while addressing the environmental impact and needs of their surroundings.
“The emphasis of the project on local and indigenous community-based tourism and agriculture enterprises recognises the potential of the region to increase its contribution to both of these sectors,” the statement said.
Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh called on more private entities to explore such public/private partnerships and initiatives based on enhancing development. The release quoted him as saying, “today we speak of public/private partnerships, but they are not only to be viewed in the narrow traditional sense of mobilising private capital to achieve public policy objectives, but can be also seen in the context of collaboration such as this.”
According to the release, Singh spoke about the economic potential in Region 9, with Lethem acting as a major transportation hub between Guyana and Brazil.
Vice President and Executive Director of CI – Guyana Dr David Singh stated that good business practices would be learned from working with the people of the Rupununi.
Signing on behalf of GBTI was Chief Executive Officer John Tracey, who stated that the partnership was in recognition of the economic potential of the region, which the bank had noticed since a branch was opened in 2006.
The fund will support sustainable management of forests, savannahs and other ecosystems; agro-tourism and arts and craft. The development of these enterprises is intended to develop greater cooperation between other low-carbon development initiatives, to contribute to the maintenance of ecosystems and to foster good business practices.