A significant step in the direction of forging the long sought closer ties between the University of Guyana and the country’s business community will be taken this weekend when the university’s recently established School of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation (SEBI) commences its first ever Entrepreneurship and Innovation Conference under the theme “Economic Transformation through Entrepreneurship & Innovation.”
The Conference, which will held from May 20 to May 22 at the Ramada George-town Princess Hotel gives effect to an undertaking given by UG Vice Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw Griffith during an extended interview with the Stabroek Business some months ago that he was aiming to have SEBI play a role in creating meaningful linkages between UG and the local business community.
SEBI was launched in July last year by Vice Chancellor Griffith who said at the opening that the institution was geared towards providing the nation with the entrepreneurial and business requirements it needs to develop, equip and certify persons in both the public and private sectors.
Earlier attempts to develop ties between UG and the business community had been limited largely to contributions of gifts to University by private sector entities. The establishment of SEBI had been preceded by consultations between UG and various interest groups including the private sector.
SEBI envisages the delivery of a curriculum that embraces elements of the liberal arts, critical thinking, foreign languages, business simulations and case studies. The SEBI Faculty draws on the skills and experiences of local business leaders.
While the forum is a collaborative initiative that involves the university and a number of state agencies including the Ministry of Business and the Small Business Bureau, Turkeyen can claim considerable credit from the extent to which it has pressed the private sector into service in support of the forum. A statement issued by the conference secretariat lists no less than a dozen private sector entities including the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company, (GTT), ExxonMobil, the Institute of Private Enterprise Development and several local commercial banks as partners in the this weekend’s initiative.
“The SEBI Inaugural Entrepreneurship and Innovation Conference will not only set the environment to advance discussions around entrepreneurship and innovation, it will also give local entrepreneurs the opportunity to exhibit their products and services,” the statement from the conference secretariat said.
Both public and private sector observers will also be mindful of the fact that the forum has attracted a number of distinguished speakers and panelists, including Guyanese residing in the diaspora. The Conference, the statement says, will bring together “academic scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers to examine how entrepreneurship has and can continue to support economic transformation in a developing economy.” It will also “provide an opportunity to share knowledge and experiences of researchers and practitioners in understanding the importance of entrepreneurship to the future of Guyana.”
As much as anything else this weekend’s event will provide a yardstick with which to measure SEBI’s capacity to deliver on its promise to create a working partnership between the public and private sectors. Among the commitments made by SEBI was that it would provide a facility that would serve both to develop the capabilities of serving entrepreneurs as well as to cater to the more formal training needs of employees holding positions in private sector institutions.
When Stabroek Business visited SEBI earlier this year classes also included several students pursuing formal degree programmes at UG.