President David Granger yesterday announced, what he called the Linden Action Plan, as he urged residents of Region Ten to rebuild their economy on four pillars: investment, information, infrastructure and innovation.
A release from the Ministry of the Presidency said that Granger made this announcement as 40 entrepreneurs received their loan approval letters from the Linden Enterprise Network (LEN), during the launch of the micro credit programme at the newly refurbished Region 10 Business Centre.
The release said that the President congratulated the team at LEN for sticking it out during a difficult period, and pledged that his administration will ensure that the institution remains viable.
“We want to ensure that credit is available to LEN. We want to make sure that Linden becomes the womb for entrepreneurs and young persons who are going into enterprise. We see a role for micro credit and for small enterprises,” he stated.
The President also attended a key stakeholders luncheon at Watooka House where he stressed the role Lindeners must play in the development of their town. President Granger called for Lindeners to develop a spirit of cooperation. “The time for confrontation has passed. We now have to go into an era of cooperation…the success of Linden, the success of the Upper Demerara-Berbice Region will depend on our ability to combine our energies and to use our god given resources and to improve the lives of our households and our children,” he said. There had been deep political division among supporters of APNU, which Granger leads, prior to the May general elections.
Announcing the Linden Action Plan at the LEN launch, Granger said the first pillar it must be built on is investment. “You have to have capital… micro credit can transform this community and this region. It can lift people out of poverty. It can establish and boost small businesses and it can create jobs for young people,” the President said, according to the release.
The second pillar on which Government will focus its efforts for the development of Linden is Information. “You cannot embark on enterprise without information, you may have good ideas but unless you have information about the market and production you will not be able to succeed,” he told the gathering.
The President added that it was also important that entrepreneurs are up to date with market demands. “You cannot proceed in business without access to information technology. It is not optional. It is vital. It is a necessity after getting your loan. You can best do this if you have access to information, you have to communicate with your market and your market will communicate with you,” he was quoted as saying.
Granger also called on residents to work with Government to build to support the development of innovative enterprises. “Proper infrastructure not only facilitates faster travelling time, but it also increases business opportunities. Region Ten is also a major gateway to several other key regions as such there is need for its own aerodrome”, he said.
The final pillar on which Linden’s development depends, according to the President, is innovation. “Come up with something different. You have to be innovative. You have to look and see what others are doing and do something different. Linden can be a hub for those new enterprises,” the President admonished.
Valerie Patterson, Chief Executive Officer at LEN and Member of Parliament, who chaired the event spoke of the need for LEN in Linden and how it was birthed.
“Job creation was always the focus of LEAP/LEAF and that focus continues with LEN, because we recognise that [the] unemployment rate in our region was very high,” Patterson said. However, when LEAP closed its office, she said, there was a need for a facility to continue business development services.
She lamented that over the last few years of LEN’s operations, its functions were stymied. “After LEN became operational, we became only operational. We couldn’t reach the objective of giving credit to the people of Region Ten. After five years we had the installation of the Board…we had a scenario where the workers were working and did not know if they would have salary at the end of the month…that situation has changed. From September of 2015 they didn’t have to ask when and if they will get pay,” Patterson said.
In 2015 National Budget, LEN received an allocation of $155M to operate
Duanne Perry, who is a first time borrower, said she will be opening an ice-cream and confectionery shop. “I’m excited. I’m happy that the Government would have chosen to involve young people in their process of progress,” she said, according to the release.
Another first time borrower, Dawn Chase who has an existing business, said she intends to use her loan to extend her salon.
LEN has also installed a new Board to oversee its operations. The Board members are Klenzil Grenville, chairman; Basil Jaipaul, Orrin Gordon, Horrace James and Vanessa Kissoon.