Monday, September 26, 2022

Over 200 percent increase in local businesses accessing capacity building programmes – Dr. Gaskin-Peters

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Since the Centre for Local Business Development opened its doors in 2017 in Guyana to help local businesses build capacity and prepare for opportunities in the oil and gas sector, there has been a more than 200 percent increase in the number of firms participating in these programmes.

So says Director of the Centre, Dr. Natasha Gaskin-Peters, who pointed out that since that time more local businesses have been investing in expanding their operations and developing systems that are on par with international standards. The Centre’s HSSE and ISO programmes have played an integral role in this regard.

“Back then in 2017 we had probably less than 1000 business, and to date we have over 3000 businesses; and these are local Guyanese businesses that registered with us,” she told OilNOW. “Back then the oil and gas industry was new. They came to the Centre, they did not understand the role that ExxonMobil was playing in the supply chain, they didn’t understand the tier 1 contractors and how to procure goods and services. So, the basic courses help them with those things, and we began to see businesses investing and forming partnerships.”

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Dr. Gaskin-Peters pointed out that partnerships are not just about entering agreements with other companies but ensuring that there is transfer of knowledge and technology.

“As a Centre, we would have had the NOIA [Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association] missions come on board preparing those businesses with our pitch course, helping them think through partnerships,” she stated.

From as early as 2017, before oil production began, representatives from Canadian organisations began carrying out trade missions to Guyana.  The organisations shared lessons learnt during the development of the oil and gas industry in Newfoundland and Labrador and highlighted the importance of government playing an active role in the development of the local supply and service industry.

Dr. Gaskin-Peters said the Centre has been growing with local businesses and ensuring that the programmes being offered are being tailored to cater to their needs.

Every year as a Centre we’ve been adding new programs. This year we added a costing program also because we found that there’s a challenge as it relates to pricing their products. So, they are tendering, and some are going very low, and some are going very high. Getting them to think through their costs; what are your direct cost and your indirect costs as it relates to this particular product? What should be your markup?” she said.  “It’s all about ensuring that we fill those gaps and continue to grow with those businesses and ensure they can continue to win work in the oil and gas industry as well as other sectors.”

The Centre has been focusing on the improvement of the technical capacity of local businesses, and these programmes are being expanded though the support of ExxonMobil’s Greater Guyana Initiative—a US$100 million commitment to capacity building by the Stabroek Block operator and co-venturers Hess and CNOOC.

Earlier this year the Centre signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the American Petroleum Institute, paving the way for ISO 9001 certified companies in Guyana to expand their training and acquire certification for the manufacturing of components and provision of services in the oil and gas sector.

“In 2022 we will introduce a Project Management mentorship program,” Dr. Gaskin-Peters said.

The objective of the course is to ensure that Guyanese businesses are able to transition from being awarded contracts, to delivering a final product to the client that is of a high-standard and in keeping with requirements. “We are also going to continue the access to finance programme because we have recognised that there is need for financing,” she stated.

The Centre has a number of other initiatives that are geared to benefit local companies. Back in March, it was announced that the Centre has been engaging local financial institutions on access to finance for businesses operating in the oil and gas sector. They have made proposals to local banks on ‘purchase order financing’ as well as ‘receivables financing’.

“We will continue to bring more new programs, we plan every year to have a new program on board to ensure that these businesses continue to grow and continue to really have an impact in the oil and gas industry, but as well as the broader economy of Guyana,” Dr. Gaskin-Peters added.

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