Afro-Guyanese Entrepreneurs operating in Guyana will soon get an opportunity to compete for $2 Million as part of the Black Entrepreneurs Association’s Emancipation Pitch Business Competition.
During a launch of the pitch competition at Herdmanston Lodge today, Vice Chairman of the Black Entrepreneurs Association (BEA), Melissa Varswyk said the Emancipation Pitch Competition was birthed out of the need to assist black businesses to overcome a number of challenges including access to finance.
Varswyk explained that a needs survey conducted among members in 2022 revealed that 40% of them had experienced challenges accessing financing to advance their businesses.
“So, 40% of our members have noted that they are seeking finance between $500,000 to $5M to help with scaling their businesses, and also introducing new products and services, and to find such financing was quite a challenge. So, within BEA, we are trying our best to see how we can help our members to find financing for their businesses. So, when the idea for the business pitch came up, we thought that this would be one of the most welcoming areas that we could start in terms of helping businesses,” the BEA Vice Chairman explained.
Other challenges include marketing and availability of affordable space to scale up their operations. But Varswyk is convinced that many of the challenges could be overcome if Black Entrepreneurs pool their resources.
She said with support from successful entrepreneurs, the BEA has already raised approximately $2.7M to facilitate the pitch competition.
City Businessman Clinton Urling, who sits on the Business Pitch Committee, said ahead of the Emancipation Pitch Business Competition which will be hosted on the 5th August, black entrepreneurs will be required to submit their applications no later than July 10.
The winner will walk away with the $2 million prize.
“We want to really attract some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs we have in Guyana, who will come with innovative ideas and initiatives. This is not just for a community, when you talk about hurdles, and constraints facing entrepreneurs generally in any country and Guyana is no different, access to financing and the difficulties in getting finances,” Urling said.
The competition is open to all black entrepreneurs regardless of their membership status, and contestants will be required to detail their business plan on a single page, while providing other important details.
Chairman of the Black Entrepreneurs Association, Rowen Willabus said the association has been able to lend support to its more than 300 members across Guyana over the past three years.
It was explained that a number of internal capacity building training sessions were held as the association remained laser focused on entrepreneurship.
“We have seen a lot of joint ventures happening quietly. Some members were not able to have the resources to go after certain projects themselves. We saw a lot persons teaming up to get things done. Now, for the organisation too, we were able to lobby in block; being able to assist members with any issues that they may have, and I must say that we had overwhelming support,” Willabus explained.
He said the Black Entrepreneurs Association continues to receive the support of the Government through the Public Procurement Commission (PPC), the Small Business Bureau and the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, among other state organs.
It was also explained that the BEA has also created an important link between Black Entrepreneurs in Guyana and those in the diaspora, including investors.