The free Accelerate-Her mentorship programme for women entrepreneurs, introduced last year through the Centre for Local Business Development (CLBD), has been extended for a second year thanks to the patronage of the Stabroek Block co-venturers through the Greater Guyana Initiative (GGI).
The Centre held a virtual launch on Tuesday morning.
Director of the Centre for Local Business Development, Dr. Natasha Gaskin-Peters, said the Centre had found that women owned businesses were mostly operating in businesses not central to the oil and gas sector, in sectors such as agriculture and tourism. So, it started the program to build the leadership and business skills of women entrepreneurs for this purpose, to promote gender equality.
In a release, it said “Accelerate-Her targets local women owners, operators, and managers to build the leadership and business skills of women entrepreneurs to grow their companies across a wide variety of industries and sectors. The Centre programme accelerates local small business through tailored workshops, access to one-on-one mentoring, and creating a supportive peer-learning environment for women.”
Attendees of Tuesday’s virtual launch were given a walkthrough of the application process. The Centre said it is accepting applications for its second cohort up to April 8.
“I am delighted to open the call for applications to the second group of talented Guyanese women entrepreneurs. Accelerate-Her 2021 was a very successful programme,” said Dr. Gaskin-Peters.
“The 16 women who completed the programme continue to develop their businesses through the skills and connections gained last year. The Centre (team) is excited to work with the new group and to help them grow and succeed,” she added.
More than 90 women had applied to the debut program last year across seven regions, with 35 shortlisted for Phase One.
They went to a weekend bootcamp, during which they fostered peer and mentor connections, brainstormed ways to facilitate growth and practiced building business model canvases.
Only 16 participants were selected to progress to the second phase, a thirteen-week mentorship and entrepreneurship experience.
Finally, the participants presented their refined business pitches and/or showcases to potential buyers and investors. Dr. Gaskin-Peters explained that the experience helped the women leaders to strengthen their skills, in this regard.
The 2022 programme, which will run from May to August, will follow the same structure, with just 15 persons expected to be selected for progression to Phase 2.
The Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry Guyana (WCCIG), like last year, will serve as lead mentors in the programme.
The Stabroek block co-venturers – ExxonMobil, Hess and CNOOC – launched GGI in February 2021, a US$100 million commitment for capacity-building projects in-keeping with Guyana’s sustainable development objectives, over the next 10 years.