Banks DIH Ltd: A jewel in the crown of the Guyana private sector

Banks DIH Ltd is more than deserving of its considerable reputation as one of the flagship private sector enterprises in Guyana. Indeed, it is hard to believe that an enterprise that has been part of the local business sector landscape for more than a century has succeeded in continually re-inventing itself.

The D’Aguiar family (D’Aguiar Industries and Holdings – DIH) had been in business in Guyana since the 1840s. Banks DIH, by its own admission, once teetered on the brink of bankruptcy, but steadied itself and now fights the competition posed by both the emergence of new local businesses and imports from foreign ones of some of the same products and services provided by Banks.

What sets this uniquely Guyanese company apart is not only the fact that it has stayed the course and is still very much a considerable force to be reckoned with in the local food and beverage industry, but that, in the process, it has maintained a uniquely Guyanese image, earning its unquestioned place as an icon in the local business sector.

If the records of the Guyana private sector are strewn with companies that “went under” to one or another of the various maladies that afflicted the Guyana economy during the post-independence period, those same records will show that each year Banks DIH Ltd has, in one way or another, added value both to its own operations and to the sector in which it serves.

Banks has been steadfast in the face of ravages, among which have been foreign exchange scarcity that sometimes placed limits on its operating capacity and expansion plans, a protracted national electricity generating crisis that has increased operating costs across the entire private sector and competition from illegal imports which the company’s current Chief Executive Officer Clifford Reis has continually bemoaned without securing a great deal of remedial response from the authorities.
What the records will also show is that Banks DIH has never wavered in its focus on playing a social role in the country’s development, contributing considerably to projects and causes in the field of education and sport, among others.

Last week, at the company’s  Annual Shareholders’ meeting  Chairman Reis unveiled its “next level” initiative which includes the creation of a $21 million Sports Bar at the Stabroek Market Square and the transformation of the  Demico House building. It is, as Mr Reis pointed out an initiative designed to improve the quality of the services offered by the company as well to provide a facility which offers greater appeal for younger Guyanese. But it is much more than that. By targeting that particular area of the city for new investment Banks has drawn unerring attention to its mindfulness of altering the tattered image of the very heart of the city, a pursuit which neither the government nor the City Council have appeared to be particularly mindful of over the years. Banks will no doubt be seeking to put its own unique mark on the appearance of an area of the capital where it does much of its own trading and an area to which both locals and visitors to the country frequently find their way. In the final analysis the promised investment by Banks DIH Ltd will go far beyond the expansion of its own business operations. It will contribute to the enhancement of the image of the capital which, of course, will have far-reaching implications. It is a demonstration of the company’s adherence to the principle of corporate social responsibility which cannot be applauded loudly enough.


JAMPRO’s disclosures about global fruit market: Lessons for Guyana

One of the salutary features of the work of JAMPRO, Jamaica’s trade and investment arm, one of whose tasks is to globally check out and report on such external market and investment opportunities as might benefit Jamaican businesses is that its work has left a discernable mark on the country’s export sector.

Oil and pragmatism

One of the regrettable features of the unfolding discourse on Guyana’s oil find and its implications for the country’s future has been the shift in the focus of the public discourse from the portents of becoming an ‘oil economy’ for the development of the people and the enhancement of the welfare of the people to the issue of the division of the spoils between Guyana as the owners of the resource and the entity that undertook the investment and the risk associated with confirming the presence of oil and undertaking the recovery effort.

Security services and outrageous exploitation of guards

The reported brouhaha over the alleged two-month gap in the payment of salaries to security guards providing services at state locations in Region Five would appear to point to the persistence of an entrenched practice of employer exploitation of security guards by private contractors providing service at state institutions.

Oil and gas: Complexities and public enlightenment

It is hard to think of any national issue that has secured more traction with the populace over the past two years than the issue of the discovery of oil offshore Guyana and the processes involved in recovering and exploiting the commodity for the nation’s benefit.

The Small Business Bureau…going forward

The materialization of a report that allows some insights into the performance of the much vaunted Small Business Bureau in terms of its role in kick-starting a transformation in the small business sector finally allows us the opportunity to evaluate what it has accomplished so far, what some of its failings are and what sorts of adjustments/corrective measures it might take.


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