Up and coming small business owners, particularly those in the agriculture sector such as
farmers, are being encouraged to adopt “low carbon” approaches to their business plans.
This sentiment was expressed by Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Norman Whittaker and Chairman of the Small Business Council, Sukrishna Pasha at the Canal Polders Green Initiative (CPGI) project on Monday.
At the event which was hosted in Canal No.2 West Bank Demerara, the Local Government Minister highlighted the importance of “green” (also referred to as low carbon) farming practices for Guyana’s development. Such practices are essential, the Minister said, as the country’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture.
Moreover, he explained that these practices would be able to give farmers more control over the produce they grow. As global warming has caused flooding and droughts that have had devastating effects on farmers, Whittaker said that more control over crops will increase the overall productivity of farms.
However, since the Small Business Council began its campaign to foster more low carbon farming in the country, the response in the past year has not been as widespread as expected. Therefore, the Chairman hopes that projects like CPGI will be able to show other farmers the benefit of investing in low carbon small businesses.
Naiomi Rambarran, a participating farmer in the CPGI project, was cited as an example of the benefits a low carbon small business owner can reap. Rambarran remarked that in four weeks she was able to harvest about 200 head of lettuce to sell. Along with lettuce, she was able to diversify into other crops like parsley and celery.
Due to recent funding for the Small Business Council in 2013, Pasha stated that the entity is now capable of supporting local low carbon small businesses.
In an interview with Kaieteur News, Pasha outlined the essential services that the Small Business Council is able to provide for local flourishing businesses in order to develop a low carbon market.
Pasha related that the council is capable of providing loan guarantees, interest subsidies, business training and assistance in procurement offers. He went on to elaborate that the council is particularly targeting the advancement of low carbon-themed businesses.
According to the Chairman, research has shown that small businesses, especially those that aim to be low carbon, are unable to access loans due to insufficient collateral needed to obtain loans. He explained that if someone has a “bankable project” without the necessary collateral, then the council is capable of providing loan guarantees. As a result of this system, Pasha remarked that the council has been able to provide up to 30 million dollars in loans to entrepreneurs who fit the low carbon criteria.
The council is specifically targeting low carbon small businesses, as it is scientifically accepted that greenhouse gases, which include carbon dioxide, is largely responsible for changing climate change patterns.
Moreover, the Small Business Council is working in collaboration with Caribbean Local Economic Development Project (CARILED) to support local economic advances in local communities. The entities believe the local businesses are the key to developing Guyana’s economy.
Despite the less than expected response from farmers, the council is still looking to invest more in their initiative to increase low carbon small businesses in the coming year.
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