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Georgetown, Guyana – (July 1, 2016) First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger was, this midday, greeted by an exuberant group of confident businesswomen at the closing ceremony of the Self-Reliance and Success in Business Workshop, which was held at the Community Centre, Mahdia, Sub-Region Two, Potaro-Siparuni (Region Eight).

The First Lady congratulated the 28 women, who persevered and completed the programme, despite their initial apprehensions. “I am sure [they] would have benefited tremendously from an exercise, which not only taught them how they could conduct a business; how they could succeed, but also gave them a sense of community,” Mrs. Granger said.

The First Lady encouraged the women to use their newly-acquired skills to make a difference in their communities and in Mahdia as a whole. She noted that via the ‘quality of life’ aspect of the training, the women would have garnered techniques, which they “can take back to their communities and infuse in their groups some sense of pride in the community and, of course, run very successful businesses… with the ideas that they have and the support that they ought to get from their fellow participants”.

Meanwhile, Mr. Johann Sanjay Puran, representative of Interweave Solutions said his organisation is pleased to partner with the Office of the First Lady, the Ministries of Social Protection and Indigenous People’s Affairs to empower women and transform their lives, that of their families and communities.

Ms. Suzette Sewram and First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, during the graduation ceremony of the Self-Reliance and Success in Business Workshop

“We are pleased to see the development of specific business skills. When they are taught, they are applied, they are accepted and these women are more than excited to return to their business environment and apply the new skills; apply the new principles, which they have learnt during the course of the training,” Mr. Puran said.

The women were high in praise of the workshop. They repeatedly extended gratitude to the First Lady for reaching out to their far-flung community. The also expressed gratitude to Ms. Rajcoomarie “Gloria” Bancroft, Regional Councillor and Member of Parliament, for organising the sessions and to their relatives and friends for encouraging them to participate.

While presenting her project plan, Mrs. Jennifer Alphonso, owner of E&J’s Tasty Corner, Frontline Road, Mahdia, said she was never quite able to get her business “off the mark”, but she has learnt a few key skills from the workshop that will aid her growth.

“I learnt for success in business you’ve got to have a plan… after practicing the ‘Six Ps’ I can now be more involved in making my community a better place. I can now make a plan to help myself and help others as we accomplish more when we work together,” she said. Ms. Alphonso added that “you’re never too old to be graduating.”

Another graduate, Ms. Alisa Mootoo of Alisa’s Variety Store said, “This has been a really, really good experience. I think I speak for all the participants when I say this [was] a really good experience for us and we have learnt so much and…we will put what we have learnt into practice.”

In fulfilment of the community enhancement aspect of the training the women have already formed themselves into groups that will meet often to brainstorm solutions to social and other problems plaguing their communities.

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Ms. Amanda Boalt shares a warm embrace with First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger after presenting her with a token of appreciation on behalf of the graduates.

Ms. Mootoo said her group plans to meet next week to find solutions to curb the school dropout rate. Ms. Paula Bastiani of Juice Plus and her group, Saving the Future Generation, aim to find solutions to stamp out human trafficking in the region, while Ms. Julie Singh and her group, the Texas Rangers, will meet next week.

In her closing remarks the First Lady invited other businesspersons or organisations, who may have an interest in supporting programmes aimed at empowering women to emulate this exercise. She also expressed gratitude to Ms. Bancroft, Minister Volda Lawrence and the Ministry of Social Protection, Interweave Solutions and regional officials for supporting the event and for making their offices available for the training.

The women presented several tokens of appreciation to the First Lady and facilitators for giving them the opportunity to participate in the workshop.

This latest workshop included women who hailed from five Region Eight communities: Tumatumari, Micobie, Campbelltown, Princeville and Mahdia Central. Over the last few months, workshops have been held in Lusignan, Demerara-Mahaica Region; Linden, Upper Demerara-Berbice Region; the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo; Mahaica – Berbice, Barima-Waini regions in Bartica, Cuyuni-Mazaruni.

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