Rural businesses shine at expo, struggle against international competition


International Competiton Dampens Business Visibility – Spencer Says

In early March, the Sonia Noel Foundation for Creative Arts collaborated with the Women’s Association for Sustainable Development. Together, they hosted the third Annual Women in Business Expo at the Pegasus Hotel poolside.

The event lasted for two days and showcased 59 female-owned businesses. The owners were taught capitalise on opportunities and platforms available to them.

Most of these women used their basic home-grown skills and ingenuity to create traditional or innovative products or services.

However, one problem that hinders their continued progress is the international competition.

“What that would actually do to the Guyanese cottage industries is cause it to take a longer time to advance in terms of recognition, and in terms its quality and its benefits,” said Jennifer Spencer, the administrator of The Women’s Agro-Processors Development Network (WADN).


Waini Women's Group
Jennifer Spencer – Women’s Agro-Processor’s Development Network


Spencer notes that much of what these women produce is sustainably developed. However, they are outcompeted by larger local companies and foreign industries with superior advertisement strategies.

“We need to concentrate on our local markets and less on the imports. If we do that … it contributes to our economy,” Dr Sonia Noel said, “We need to look and see the products that we have because there is no doubt that we have the talent and skillsets … some of them [just] need fine-tuning.”

When asked about the WADN’s advertisement budget, Spencer noted that they do not have one because of the high marketing costs. Instead, they use each expo along with social media to garner the attention they need.

“We advertise ourselves [with a] ‘each one tell one’ kinda thing,” Spencer said.

She does not feel that the poor advertisement is a hindrance, but she hopes that one day, their media attention will improve their prospects.

Guyana’s gender equality better than most – World Bank Reports

Women, Business and the Law Infographic

For an interactive graphic, click here.

Today, there are over 3.7 billion women on the planet. They work in all forms of industries, from the most horrific bowels of the pervasive, global slave trade to the upper echelons of Fortune 500 companies.

However, there is a disparity between males and females relating to jobs and economic security.

According to a recent report by the World Bank, 73% of women – 2.7 billion of them – are legally restricted from having the same economic choices and opportunities as men. For every 10 women in the world, 7 of them have the odds systematically staked against them.

The heaviest of these restrictions are often found in impoverished or war-torn countries, mostly those in Northern Africa and the Middle East. The laxest restrictions are in the wealthiest places in the world like Europe and America.

Guyana is an exception. Currently, it has the most female government ministers in the Caribbean as ten of the 27 cabinet positions are occupied by women.

Furthermore, Guyana’s public and private sectors are promoting female opportunities in STEM, business, and leadership. Companies like GT&T provide platforms for girls and women to educate themselves and participate in some of the fastest growing global industries.

The World Bank also reports that Guyana has improved women’s access credit packages, which encourages more female participation in the economy. This reform is just one of 69 new policies implemented to unshackle women and allow them to be independent in their economic ventures.