Let me first commend our First Lady Mrs. Sandra Granger for the astute path she has adopted in respect to promoting entrepreneurial training initiatives in Guyana. No doubt this initiative is welcome and it must have been endorsed by His Excellency President David Granger and his cabinet. It is commendable and must be allowed to develop as it brings some degree of support to society’s vulnerable groups, i.e. youth and women.
The more our youth and women are given opportunities to become successful business owners in our society, the greater their chances are of becoming citizens who can positively contribute to our country’s socio economic development.
Entrepreneurship training programmes do provide that opportunity; more so if the training is community organized- as I read about in the printed media- the entire community gains. Goods and services would be provided and ultimately jobs created. So the lead taken by the First Lady, the organizations conducting the training and the Governing administration must be applauded.
It is important to note though that just as training is essential for startup entrepreneurs, continuous business mentoring is essential for business survival too. Business survival is crucial; and we must have mechanisms in place to support even bad business decisions made by our above-mentioned vulnerable groups (youth and women). Let us not fool ourselves, owning and operating any business after start up is not the easiest of tasks, especially for beginners or start-ups. Working along with poor business decisions, especially when your debts are cumulating, does not rest well on one’s mind.
It is absolutely necessary to recognize early signs of a business in difficulty and what it means, so that sound business decision can be taken. Signs such as:
- Low sales volume; which may be indicating, insufficient demand at a selling price needed to return enough profit to support the business operation.
- Poor choice of location; Poor marketing strategy
- Excessive operating expenses: bank payments seem to be using up all profits from sale
- Inability to foresee shortfall situations:
5 Inadequate operating records;
6 Ineffective use of their business plans;
7 Ineffective use of cash flow projections to monitor operations
The business aptitude that is required to handle such a situation may be unknown to new start-ups. Having seen the evidence of these, where does help come from? Is there anyone or any institution that is known to these start-ups that they can turn to for sound business mentoring or advice? Who are our business mentors, are they prepared to work for free. Not that I am advocating that they should or should not.
They may be members of the donor community who may have a mandate from their governments or organizations, to facilitate youth and women entrepreneurial development, who are these one. The point is that business mentoring is a needed crutch to support our vulnerable groups. In my humble opinion, we need a number of business mentors, organizing of mentorship programmes and we need them now, more so a well-established institution like the Critchlow Labour College that can act as the hub for entrepreneurial learning and mentoring.
A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could. Ask any successful businessman and, if they are honest about it, they will almost certainly admit to having benefited from the advice of a mentor at some point along their business.
Let’s establish a Guyana Institution for mentoring this vulnerable group as they use their socioeconomic skills to fight off unemployment and as we drive to promote entrepreneurship; creating livelihoods for all.
Founder and Executive Director
Guyana Entrepreneurial Youth