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Georgetown, Guyana – (December 5, 2016) First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, today, took her Self Reliance and Success in Business Workshop to a group of 24 women assembled at the Blairmont Hindu Temple, West Coast Berbice, where she expressed the hope that it would spark an entrepreneurial spirit that will lead them to venture into business. While there, some of the women expressed an interest in establishing catering services and Region Five Councillor, Ms. Carol Smith-Joseph, who chaired the proceedings, immediately arranged for an officer from the Guyana National Bureau of Standards to attend tomorrow’s session to start the process for them to obtain food handlers certificates.

While several of the younger women said that they sometimes dabbled in cosmetology and catering to earn a small income, many of the older women said that they had devoted their lives to serving in the temple in various capacities and did not perceive themselves as particularly talented. The First Lady said that she expects that at the close of the workshop, the participants would have recognised the value of their labour and would have gained confidence.

“It not only teaches you, the participant, to run your business and run it successfully, it does it in a way that you can understand and… [provide you with the opportunity to] share in your communities…. So whether you are already running your business or you’re thinking of setting up a business it’s going to guide you because it gives you all the basic things you need to know to run your business,” Mrs. Granger said.

First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger (seated third from left) is flanked by, facilitators from Interweave Solutions Incorporated Ms. Marcia Meredith and Mr. Yohann Sanjay Pooran, Pandit Ravi, Lt. Col. (ret’d) Ms. Yvonne Smith of the Office of the First Lady and Region Five Councillor, Ms. Carol Smith-Joseph. The 24 participants are pictured standing

The First Lady also said that she expects that the ambivalence that some of the women expressed today will be replaced by enthusiasm as they participate in the usually lively sessions. “I know you will have a very exciting five days and when we come back, I hope you all would have completed it, and you will step forward with confidence… This is the workshop where they teach you not only about your product, but how you can package it and market it,” she said.

The First Lady also noted that the certificate the participants receive at the close of the programme is recognised by several institutions, including the Small Business Bureau. Further, she said, the community component of the programme has allowed other graduates to put to good use their organising skills for the betterment of their communities.

“[The workshop] recognises that while you might be a business person, you still have to operate in a community and when a community does well, your business proposers so that is smart thinking… We hope you will go back to your communities and …teach other women and other men as well, if they are interested in learning from you, how to conduct a business and make the whole community a thriving…place. I hope at the end of it you come out satisfied that you have spent your days fruitfully,” the First Lady said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Yohann Sanjay Pooran, Facilitator at Interweave Solutions Incorporated, said that under the leadership of the First Lady these workshops have brought about “phenomenal” change to the lives of the women. “We’ve gone across this country and I cannot tell you the impact… that these workshops have been having on the lives of women,” he said.

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Ms. Haemwanti Seeprashad, a vendor of 27 years, said that she is interested in pursuing a catering business and enrolled in the Self Reliance and Success in Business Workshop to augment her business skills.

In an invited comment, Ms. Rushela Mahdoo of Blairmont Number Two Settlement said that while she is not currently a business owner she enrolled in the workshop to learn the steps needed to operate a successful business. “I want to be a cosmetologist… I would like to learn more about business so that I could have my own business someday,” she said.

Ms. Vadresha Shah, a single mother of two children, said that she operates several businesses in order to provide for her family. “I am attending this class to grasp whatever business [skills] I can to further my business,” she said.

Ms. Marcia Meredith, facilitator at Interweave Solutions Incorporated, Pandit Ravi of the Blairmont Temple and several members of staff from the Hugo Chavez Centre for Rehabilitation and Reintegration, also attended the opening. To date, over 300 women have benefited from the workshops, which are funded by the Ministry of Social Protection and hosted under the auspices of the Office of the First Lady in collaboration with Interweave Solutions Incorporated.

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