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Georgetown, Guyana – (May 15, 2017) Thirty-three young people, who hail from ‘A’ to ‘E’ Field, Sophia, Georgetown and further afield, this morning, assembled in the Cummings Park Multi-Purpose Centre to participate in the 16th Self Reliance and Success in Business Workshop. The participants, many of whom are young and unemployed, were selected to participate in the training programme in order to empower them to create employment for themselves and enhance their community.

Delivering opening remarks, Regional Chairman, Demerara-Mahaica (Region Four) Ms. Genevieve Allen, praised the participants for capitalising on the opportunity to augment their education. She also commended First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, for taking a special interest in the youth of Sophia and for providing an opportunity for them to access training.

“I’d like to express appreciation to our First Lady for first of all showing the interest in the development of [the] men and women in our country and for giving you the opportunity so that you can acquire the necessary skills and information so that you can become independent… so that you can become empowered, that you do not become dependent on somebody but after you would have acquired these skills that you can become an independent individual earning your own dollars, sharing the knowledge that you would have gained, only with your household, but with your [community] and helping to bring about a change in our society,” she said.

Ms. Allen also expressed the hope that by the close of the workshop, the participants would have become more self-aware and would better be able to identify their strengths, spark their creativity and make sound decisions about their futures. “I [would] like to see, coming out from this group of trainees, new skills, new businesses and those businesses being successful… that we are going to be proud that because of this [workshop] you have developed your self-awareness, you have developed you self-esteem and that you are successful in your business ventures,” she said.

Meanwhile, Facilitator of Interweave Solutions Incorporated, Mr. Yohann Sanjay Pooran, providing an overview of the workshop said 493 women and men have been trained across all Ten Administrative Regions since the workshops were introduced in 2015. “I can safely say that the Self Reliance and Success in Business [workshop], an initiative of the Office of the First Lady, changes the lives of people for the better in a powerful and impacting way…,” she said.

Several participants expressed the hope that the workshop will improve their ability to grow or start their own businesses. Ms. Nicola Gonsalves, a business owner of ‘E’ Field, Sophia said that she was pleased that the First Lady has brought the workshop to her. “A lot of women around the communities they need something like this because they are trying to [start] their own businesses, but they don’t have… the facility, they don’t have the finances so this will be a great opportunity for [them,] to come and learn more about [how to] run their business.”

Ms. Lorraine Pearson, also of ‘E’ Field, Sophia, expressed similar sentiments. “I have plans [to start] my own business… but with this programme I feel that I can go ahead about [my business]. I am grateful and thanks to the First Lady and the organisers,” she said.

Mr. Abram Stokes of Buxton said that while he does not have immediate plans to become an entrepreneur, he is currently unemployed and decided to participate in the workshop to augment his skills. “I am home doing nothing and my step mother encouraged me to try it to see if it could better me… Now that I am getting the opportunity, it’s best I think about [starting my own business]. I feel very pleased and happy to know that there are people looking out for me and other people like me and giving us the opportunity to better our lives and our families as well,” he said.

The five-day workshop, which is held in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Protection, will close on Friday after which each participant who has completed the syllabus will be given a recognised certificate.

Lieutenant Colonel (ret’d) Yvonne Smith, Confidential Secretary to the First Lady, local community coordinator, Ms. Andrea Marks also attended the workshop.

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