Women's Issues In Guyana

‘We women do not always have it easy…’

Posted in Gender Equality by wiig on October 7, 2005
Tags: , , ,

-Forum focuses on women’s business association

Stabroek News – October 7, 2005
By Nicosia Smith

A women’s business association, increased managerial training and a business directory were among the many suggestions that came out of the forum ‘Unleashing Entrepreneurship: Focus on Women.’

The forum held on September 30 at the Hotel Tower was organised by Empretec Guyana and the Linden Economic Advancement Programme (LEAP) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme, the European Union and the government. It was touted as being the first women’s forum related to business.

Some 130 women were divided into seven groups and out of these discussions several suggestions were made.

The themes resounding throughout the presenting groups included the need for better networking among businesswomen, the need for access to financing and to have a business organisation to represent women.

Cathy Hughes, president of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana(THAG), adding to her groups presentation stated that there should be a survey of the number of women who own and manage businesses and their contribution to the gross domestic pro-duct(GDP). Hughes said that the number of women in business may surprise many and this can lead to a difference in the way businesswomen are treated.

The need for marketing information in both the local and export market and to have a quarterly feedback on what is happening in the various sectors, as regards businesses operated by women, was stated as essential as well as having knowledge of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) in light of its implementation come January 2006.

Training in accountancy, management of financial records to gain a loan/grant, internet training, concessionary rates on loans for women and the preparation of business proposals were listed as areas that women need assistance in. It was noted that women should be encouraged to enter into non-traditional sectors such as manufacturing, to earn more. Jocelyn Dow, of Liana Cane in a wrap up of what the women proposed noted that it was a priority to advance the association of women in business. “I think the moment is right now.”

Guest speaker Ritva Sallmen, of the European Union told the gathering that, “we women do not always have it easy to raise our voices and to demand our rights”, “and yet, studies show that the enterprises run by women are more labour intensive than the enterprises of the same category run by the men. It is women entrepreneurs who create jobs, more jobs than their male colleagues and what’s more, the women create jobs for women!”

Kathleen Whalen, the international project manager at LEAP said the forum “was extremely good from the participants.” Whalen was pleased that 37 of the participants were business women from Linden. “I think there is work to be done,” she said, in terms of networking and sharing information among women entrepreneurs.

She also committed to supporting the creation of a women’s association and a directory of women’s businesses.

Judy Semple-Joseph, executive director of Empretec, also said that Empretec will support the formation of a women’s association and will also be launching the Empretec Women Entrepreneurs Programme in October. And both women promise to follow up on the forum with reports on the event.

In support of many of the areas that the participants stated that they need help in, surveys conducted by both LEAP and Empretec showed that women businesses had less turnover than men and women had less knowledge of the financial aspects of their business.

At the forum, Empretec released the findings of a survey that they conducted with 118 of their clients, 50 male and 68 female, from a total of 202 clients. The most significant of the findings, said Semple-Joseph, was that only 35% of all the businesses that showed an increase in turnover were operated by women. The survey stated that before their clients received business training from Empretec they recorded a Total Annual Sales Turnover of $52.9M as compared to $150.7M after their workshops. It represented an overall improvement of 184% or $97.7M. But the women-owned businesses showed an increase in turnover of only $18.3M.

In another survey conducted in Region 10 it was found that many women-operated businesses could not state their turnover amount nor their profit margin even though a majority had knowledge of accounting and created more permanent employment than men.

The total survey sample consisted of 51 LEAP/LEAF female clients with existing and start-up businesses; 30 clients completed the questionnaires, three – were no longer in the area and 18 were not available. It was found that the average age of the women was 42 and had an average number of 2.9 dependants with the location of their business being evenly distributed at their homes or other locations. Seventy per cent, or 21, of the women surveyed did not know their sales turnover in the last full year and 73% or 22 did not know what profit they made. However, 53% were computer literate; 53% had a business plan; 50% a marketing plan; 67% use manual accounting system and 10% computerized accounting while 23% had no accounting system.

Many of the respondents in their explanation of what they needed to improve their business made the same points that came out of the forum.

Also discovered was that when the women were compared to the men the women created more permanent jobs in the community. The findings were presented by Tina Horslen, a LEAP consultant.


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