If you look hard enough and for all the ‘tough times’ associated with doing business in Linden there are still a number of micro and small businesses run by proprietors who simply refuse to ‘throw in the towel.’ They have grown used to the peaks and troughs associated with entrepreneurship in a township that has had to readjust from an economic culture centred around wage labour.
Derron Adams, an executive member of the Linden Chamber of Commerce and Industry is currently in his twelfth year as the owner and manager of Corporate Supplies which he started in 2006. The business is situated in the building of the Linden Enterprise Network (LEN) , 97-98 Republic Avenue, Mackenzie, Linden.
It would never have happened, he believes, had he not taken a deliberate decision to fashion an enterprise that derived from thinking outside of the box.
Corporate Supplies is in the business of leasing office equipment to public and private sector entities in Linden and elsewhere under contractual arrangements that requires the leasee to purchase ink, toner, paper and other related material from the company. Whilst the vast majority of his customers are Linden-based he has, only recently, been securing modest contracts with entities in Region Four and is seeking to expand into parts of Region Three including the West Demerara and the Essequibo Islands. Additionally, he has put down roots in the capital, having established an office in East Ruimveldt from where he operates a branch of Print Start Initiative, a printing service which has its roots in Linden. If he concedes that his Georgetown printing service is ‘slow’ he remains prepared to brave the competitive environment presented by the capital’s more vibrant commercial culture.
There are, he says, “peaks and troughs” to business in Linden though what keeps him going is the nimbleness of wit that pushes him to constantly search for new opportunities to realise business growth.
One of his strategies has been to carefully ‘scout out’ what he considers to be a sound business initiative, immerse himself in it then, once the sector becomes overly competitive, move on to another challenge. That approach, he says, has worked for him.
Adams attributes such strides as he has made to the support he has received from the Small Business Bureau. With the support of the Bureau he has been successful in securing loans from the banking system to enable him to create an inventory that includes more than forty copiers. These have been the mainstay of his business. He believes that he has come a long way from his first engagement with the banking system in 2010 when, having assessed his business plan, only 50% of the amount that he sought was approved.
In Linden, Adams’ Print Start Initiative serves as a support mechanism for schools, social organizations, small businesses and other organisations. The system allows for the acquisition of ‘reloadable cards’ which allows for copying to the extent of the sum of money loaded onto the card. The Print Start service is now up to around two thousand card-holding customers. The service employs seven persons. In May this year Corporate Supplies launched an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Centre in Linden which has already provided training for thirty-seven young Lindeners. Eight of those are now employed and another two are pursuing further studies at the University of Guyana. The launch of the Centre allows for use by schoolchildren, teachers and other professionals. Limited secretarial services are also available at the Centre. Through his travels to the United States, Adams has also familiarised himself with the business of on-line shopping and now runs an on-line shopping service named Corporate Online Shopping. Over time, its popularity has grown, appealing to the consumer tastes of ordinary Lindeners and eventually attracting the attention of larger establishments including Omai Gold Mines Ltd, the Linden Economic Advancement Project (LEAP) , the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Reunion Manganese and Republic Bank Linden. Purchases have included safety shoes, ATVs and machinery spare parts for the mining sector.
His enterprise grew gradually. By 2008 he had begun to acquire photocopiers to commence his leasing business. In 2008 he set up a modest bookstore that was concerned primarily with acquiring texts for nurses unable to locate medical books at reasonable prices to support their training. He used his online service to acquire the books at affordable prices.His service included a ‘layway’ plan for those who could not afford to meet the full cost of the items at once. That service lasted three years, ‘drying up’ after nurses began accessing texts through the internet.
Subsequently, in an effort to enhance the teaching education process, a proposal was submitted to the Regional Democratic Council to have photocopiers placed in all educational institutions. Having initially endorsed the idea the Regional Administration backed out on account of financial constraints. Saddled with seven new photocopiers and the repayment of a loan of $2.5m, Adams opted to start a photocopying service of his own. That was the start of the Print Start Initiative. It has since grown into one of the more vibrant small businesses in the community.