‘We are here’ – Head of Women’s Chamber says women crucial to developing Guyana

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Rowena Elliot was recently elected President of the nascent Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Guyana (WCCIG) and as she gets down to business, she says that the chamber aims to guarantee that the interests of women in business are represented adequately.

Elliot served as treasurer on the previous Board of Directors of the Chamber. Though she serves in a leadership capacity in a private sector company, it was when she served on the Board that she recognised that many women in the local business sector may feel either “underestimated” or “undervalued.”

Changing that means adequate representation is crucial. And that, Elliot explained, is where the Chamber comes in.

“We see a lot of things out there where private sectors are meeting or organisations are meeting but you don’t see the Women’s Chamber.

“I think that’s one of the main goals. We want to say, ‘Hey, you know, we’re here’,” Elliot highlighted during an interview with the News Room on Tuesday.

Local women in business at a recent business development forum facilitated by the Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Guyana (WCCIG) and the Centre for Local Business Development- Guyana (Photo: WCCIG Facebook page)

This is particularly important because there is no lack of skills, talents or business ideas among women in Guyana. And, with more women establishing or expanding their businesses, the economy develops.

Yet, Elliot said that there are instances where women are “left behind” or do not have access to equitable financing, for example, to help kick start and sustain their businesses.

With this Chamber present at business engagements and part of delegations, the President also explained that information on potential funding and/or developmental programmes would be garnered. That information would then be shared with local women in business.

“… If we’re not aware of it, our members are definitely missing out and that is going to be a disadvantage for persons,” she said.

Currently, the Chamber has just less than 40 members- some men included. That is not an overwhelming figure, certainly, but Elliot pointed out that the Chamber was only established in 2019 and was almost immediately thrust into the COVID-19 pandemic. The disruption caused by the pandemic- particularly in the business sector- is well-known.

As the Chamber sets out its work plan for 2022, increasing its membership – ideally to about 100 strong – is a key focus. Beyond increasing membership, though, the Chamber also plans to serve its members by assuming a more capacity building and networking function.

This includes helping women create business plans, develop feasibility studies for their businesses or provide business mentorship. It would also encompass increased collaboration among women in business, with other local business chambers, international agencies and with governmental agencies.

“With the Women’s Chamber, it will take a lot of collaboration.

“It’s not a case where you are fighting, it is a case where you want to be working together,” Elliot emphasised.

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