At a time when the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) is seeking to expand its services to members, the organization is experiencing, “significant growth in membership,” immediate past president of the business support organization Vishnu Doerga has said..
In a message published in the Chamber’s 2016/2017 Annual Report, Doerga said that over the reporting period 38 new members enlisted with the organization “signalling a 25% increase in its membership.”
Listed among the additions to the Chamber’s membership are Muneshwer’s Limited, Cevon’s Waste Management, Professional Guard Services, Kross Kolour Records, Comfort Sleep and The Language Institute. Company membership of the Chamber now stands at 173 entities, with merchandising 18 members, distribution 16 members, manufacturing 15 members, Information Technology 14 members, education 10 members and financial services 10 members, being the leading membership categories.
The increase in membership, Doerga says, is a microcosm of a wider improvement in the fortunes of the Chamber which includes both an enhanced financial position as well as an increased capacity to deliver services to its members. “Our Chamber has significantly improved its position from just a few years when we were in significant deficit, membership was stagnant and value to members was limited. He said that the return of the Chamber to a position of “financial soundness” was due to the effectiveness of the Chamber team in “adding value to themselves and adding value to the organization.” The Chamber, Doerga says, has now experienced a positive change regarding its surplus which now stands at $5.7 million, “An impressive increase of 363 per cent.”
And according to Doerga, growth in the size of the Chamber coupled with mounting member expectations helped to focus the attention of the organization on various initiatives including capacity building programmes for members. Details contained in other sections of the report provide details of the Chamber’s interface with external support entities including the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the European Union, the Caribbean Technological Consultancy Services (CTCS) a mechanism designed to mobilize the knowledge and skills of experts in order that these might be harnessed and transferred to meet the needs of micro and small enterprises.
The GCCI is currently in the process of executing a programme aimed at improving competitiveness in the business sector and strengthening small and micro enterprises to increase non-traditional exports utilizing a CDB grant of US$226,000. The grant, the Chamber report said, is being used “to enhance the export-readiness of enterprises in creative industries particularly music and art and craft as well as agro-processing.”
The GCCI, meanwhile, has established a formal relationship with the CTCS that is facilitating a three-year programme aimed at “enhancing the managerial, technical and operational capacity of MSEs in Guyana” in order to enhance their prospects for productivity, profitability and competitiveness.
In its Annual Report the Chamber also provides details of its staging and participation in as number of workshops including a CDB- sponsored sub-regional workshop on “Managing for Development Results for Cooperating Institutions of the Caribbean Technological Consultancy Services Network, a management strategy that focuses on using information to enhance the quality of decision-making.” During the reporting period the GCCI also created its ‘Conversation Circle,’ a forum that has enabled young entrepreneurs to interact with and benefit from the experiences of prominent business owners.
The Chamber paid tribute to a number of local institutions including Republic Bank, Scotia Bank, Digicel and the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company for supporting its work during the reporting period.
The report also focused on the initiatives taken by the GCCI to expand its external reach through bilateral engagements with officials of various organizations including the Washington-based Creative Associates International Inc, the Inter-American Development Corporation, the United States Agency for International Development, the Procasur Corporation and officials attached to the SKYE Project. During the reporting period, meetings were also held with United States Embassy officials and business delegations from Suriname, China and the Republic of the Philippines.
The GCCI said it also benefited from the attachment of a volunteer from the Canada-based development organization CUSO International that works to reduce poverty and inequality and which is focused on the establishment of business incubators as economic tools. The outcome of the CUSO International attachment will be to provide the Chamber with information that would assist in establishing a business incubator centre for young entrepreneurs.