By Sharmain Grainger
Delving into a business venture is not always an easy undertaking, especially if finances are not readily available. Even though lending institutions might be willing to offer their financial services, the repayment interest could be a deterrent to potential borrowers even if they qualify for a loan. Moreover, without ample financing, many great business ideas have remained unrealized.
But this will not be the case for 33-year-old Trudy Sinclair of Rose Hall Town, Berbice. You see although Sinclair, a single-parent mother of two young girls, was denied a bank loan to expand her food business, Serenity’s Slice of Heaven, she is yet poised to see her dream come to fruition. What is even more interesting is that she will benefit from an interest-free loan.
The loan has already been assured by Pandit Suresh Sugrim, founder and head of the Humanitarian Mission Guyana, a non-governmental organization [NGO] which is located in Berbice.
“I am giving her the money she needs to help her set up a food business and I am happy to do this. I don’t know this woman; I have never met her, but I want to see her succeed,” said Pandit Sugrim.
Pandit Sugrim, a Guyanese who resides in the United States, was moved to lend his support to Sinclair after viewing a video in which she spoke of being unemployed and passionately expressed her desire to set up a food business.
“I heard the sincerity in her voice and so I was choked with emotions over here and I knew she was deserving of some help to really get on her feet. This is a fine young lady who is backed by many testimonials, and I have the confidence that she will do great,” said Pandit Sugrim.
Even as he recognised Sinclair’s sincerity, Pandit Sugrim also noted that,“ far too many people are lazy and only want handouts…they are not willing to help elevate themselves like this woman even after they acquire skills.”
And skills are readily available to persons at the NGO Pandit Sugrim heads. In fact, Sinclair is a product of the NGO, which has a primary goal to empower vulnerable women to become self-sufficient by providing them with skills to do so.
The NGO which opened its doors a few years ago was formerly known as the New Jersey Arya Samaj Mandir Inc. Humanitarian Mission. The name of the organization was however changed, Pandit Sugrim said, to reflect the notion that “we are not about religion, race or politics, we are all about empowering the people.”
“We are offering women classes in cosmetology, cake decoration, balloon decoration, and in collaboration with the Save Abee Foundation, we are offering them programmes in English, Maths and Computer too,” Pandit Sugrim shared, as he informed that not only adult women but youths have been able to benefit from the programmes offered.
Sinclair, after a divorce in 2016, was driven by an earnest passion to earn a livable income to support herself and children.
“When I was married I was not working, but because of the divorce I had to find something to do to start supporting my kids. The marriage wasn’t working and I didn’t want to just stay in a marriage so my kids could be supported. I wanted my kids to see me as a strong woman…I needed to do right by them,” shared Sinclair, who added, “I thank God every day for bravery to be able to move on.”
In her quest for independence, Sinclair decided to acquire some skills at the Humanitarian Mission. But although she was able to complement her cooking skills with the cake decoration and balloon decoration knowledge she acquired, Sinclair was only able to earn an income from preparing meals and snacks one day per week for sale.
Since her expenses include paying a rent for the property in which she resides, Sinclair said that she has been barely able to see the small profit she makes at times from the business she started at the beginning of last year.
“The business is not at the magnitude that I want…I do everything at my house, I keep a little for use at home and I try to market the rest,” related Sinclair who confided, “sometimes you break even and sometimes you make a small profit.”
She disclosed that as part of her effort to reduce her expenses she even sought support from another NGO to help her construct a home. However, without title to a land, this has not yet materialised. Sinclair has moreover applied for land from the Ministry of Communities and is currently awaiting the availability of a plot.
Although she would much rather open a snackette at her own home, for now Sinclair is happy that the loan she will be receiving will allow her to operate her food business from a stall at the Rose Hall Market.
“With the loan I will be able to do so much more. I will be able to cook and sell on more days,” said Sinclair, who has not only outlined how she will utilise the loan, but has already crafted a repayment plan which she hopes will kick in a few months after her expanded business plan takes off.
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