At a time when young Guyanese seeking to gain entry into the world of business complain with monotonous regularity about closed doors, Canadian University Services Overseas (CUSO) Youth Entrepreneurship Advisor Pamela Grant hopes her five-month stay in Guyana will result in a breakdown of the “silos” that stand between young people and the business sector.
Grant, who was born in Guyana, says she has found that there is a need for businesses to “keep the doors open for young people” who do not appear to embrace entrepreneurship instinctively but rather, as “a tertiary choice… that sometimes appears to be favoured by people who don’t do well at school.”
Her stint in Guyana, a collaborative initiative with the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), comes to an end in March. Grant says she hopes that by then she would have contributed to a process aimed at breaking down the generational gap between young people and mostly old-fashioned businessmen.
The exercise is as much a tribute to CUSO and to the various types of contributions that Canada continues to make to the development of Guyana as it is to the efforts of the GCCI to embrace initiatives designed to take the business community forward. As it happens, there is little persuasive evidence that the efforts of the Chamber are being matched by its counterpart business support organizations. (BSOs).
The process of seeking to secure a better understanding of attitudes to business and to development as a whole here in Guyana has taken Grant to various communities across the country. It has also and led her to institutions like the Guyana National Youth Council (GNYC) and Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD). She welcomes those encounters, wanting as she does to secure a holistic understanding of aspects of the society that will help her push the project’s focus on young people.
One of her key objectives, she says, is to initiate a process that will help create more room at the entrepreneurial table for young people.
“I have found that almost every young person has a pet project, a business idea, and they don’t mind sharing,” she adds.
On February 19 and 20 Grant will pull together a group of young hopefuls and businessmen and women, the idea being to stage a think-in that will, among other things, close the generation gap while incubating an indigenous environment that results in a meeting of minds that will enable the two to work together. Exercises of this kind, she believes, are key to causing the two sides to become more “comfortable” with each other; and since in the final analysis she believes that it is the country’s youth that will provide its long-term entrepreneurial engine-room she regards the mission of properly integrating them into the mainstream business culture as critical to Guyana’s socio-economic future.