There would not have been a Small Business Exposition but for the fact—at least so we are told—that as far as the annual GuyExpo is concerned we are saving our effort for the 50th Anniversary of Guyana’s independence at which time we will stage what is likely to be the biggest GuyExpo ever.
And yet one can argue that the local small business sector fully deserves an opportunity of its own to strut its stuff and to benefit from what may well be its biggest ever short-term market.
For sure, the event which opens today and goes on for the next three days will provide an opportunity to gauge the progress which the various sub-sectors comprising the small business sector has made.
It can, perhaps, be argued that the Business Exposition is coming off ‘a high’ arising out of the creation of a small business infrastructure to facilitate funding and training for small entrepreneurs, even though the so-called Micro and Small Enterprise Development (MSED) project is yet to make its mark.
The problems with the small business sector, however, range from the huge competitive disadvantage facing the entrepreneurial efforts of the indigenous peoples on account of the high costs associated with moving their finished goods to an urban market to the incompleteness (in terms of things like packaging and labelling) of locally manufactured products for competing on an international market.
The Business Exposition is also occurring at a time when government is still to make clear its intentions in the matter of the role and functions of the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest). Up to this time no CEO has been named. And given the announced uncertainties in the matter of the number of jobs it is likely to create, there is no certainty about the outcomes of this the first phase of the MSED project.
What has been heartening about the small business sector in recent years is that there has been no shortage of enthusiasm—or misguided effort, for that matter—among modest investors to start-up businesses. The problem has been that apart from financing there has been evidence of some flawed business plans and initiatives that have simply lacked the staying power.
The Government of Guyana—as has been the case previously—has again decided to take on the job of bringing businesses together. Part of the effort has also included some measure of training and orientation in areas like product marketing and the procedures and protocols associated with attending Trade Fairs. The problem over the years has been that there has been very little follow-up to these efforts. We must hope that it is different this time.