Meet the man behind the 'Google of Guyana'

16th July, 2017 0 comments

When Triston Thompson and his cousin decided to launch information technology company IntellectStorm in 2014, they knew they would have an uphill battle.

“IT is not something that is adopted that much in Guyana,” the 20-year-old explained. “Businesses are still stuck in their old way of doing things.”

Thompson wanted to help bring his country into the 21st century. He had studied computer science and graduated cum laude from the University of Guyana. Through IntellectStorm, he wants to show people how the internet can be used as a tool to engage customers and build relationships.

Thompson calls one of his company’s products the “Google of Guyana.” This mobile app, called Directory.gy, is a resource on “everything Guyana,” from current news and upcoming events to businesses, restaurants and public services. Directory.gy was recognized by the Guyanan government as the official application of the 50th anniversary of Guyana’s independence and took first place at the PitchIT Caribbean Challenge in Jamaica.

 

Connecting with others

A challenge for Thompson was figuring out how to get the word out about his company.

“It’s difficult in Guyana to come into the entrepreneurial ecosystem and just sell yourself alone,” said Thompson, who grew up in a village called Melanie Damishana, about 17 kilometers from Guyana’s capital of Georgetown. You have to expand your network and get people to “know you and what you can do.”

Participating in a Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative pilot program helped him do just that. Thompson received valuable feedback on his ideas, and encouragement — “one of the most helpful things” about his YLAI experience. Since then, he has expanded his professional network and collaborated with another YLAI fellow on an IT application.

Thompson is optimistic that more IT solutions will catch on in Guyana and that IntellectStorm will become one of the top Guyanan tech companies. What’s next? More connections and stronger relationships with other entrepreneurs and businesspeople. “Even people in government can be good connections to build,” he adds. “You never know who could be the key to your progress.”

Connecting with other entrepreneurs has helped Thompson stay positive and focused on his venture, especially during the first year when funds were tight. “Being part of a community of entrepreneurs helps you to realize that you’re not alone, that your problems are not unique,” he said.

His advice to other entrepreneurs? “Surround yourself with positive people who will build you up and not tear you down.”

Article adapted from: https://ylai.state.gov/meet-man-behind-google-guyana-20170713/


UG launches innovative business school

10th July, 2017 0 comments

IN keeping with the constantly changing economic environment, the University of Guyana (UG) on Friday launched its School of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation (SEBI) with the aim of moving away from conventional teaching.
Members of the private sector, the education sector and other stakeholders gathered at the Roraima Duke Lodge in Kingston to witness the unveiling of the banner bearing the insignia of the new faculty.

The new school, which is set to open at the start of the new semester in September, will offer new undergraduate and graduate degrees, executive degrees and short-term programmes.
Students who were engaged in management studies through the university’s Social Sciences Faculty will be able to continue their studies under the new school, and even be able to pursue areas such as accounting, finance, and supply chain management among other things.

“Some of what is happening is, we will be shifting the management department and offering new degree programmes such as entrepreneurship,” Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw Griffith said at the opening.
“Also, we will not be waiting to offer degrees, because we will have a number of courses and specifically tailored programmes that can be done in days, weeks and even months,” he added.
As opposed to the Faculty of Social Sciences, the school will be moving away from just creating opportunities for entrepreneurship in thinking and dreaming, and looking towards entrepreneurship in doing.

In order to ensure the desired outcomes, a thorough feasibility study into the project was done after the idea was first mooted in 2016.
The process included local, regional and international stakeholders, who explored several ideas that were later conceptualised into the school’s curriculum.
Professor Griffith alluded to the inclusivity of the project, pointing out that stakeholders visited areas in Regions Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) and 10 (Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice) in order to hear the views of persons who will potentially benefit from the SEBI.

DELIVERING THE PRODUCT

“We have come a long way, and we intend to start delivering the product this coming semester,” Professor Griffith said, adding:
“We have already sent out the implementation team, members of the technical unit and other persons in all the elements of the university who are working towards the actualisation.”

The team, he said, is now in the process of building the capacity of staff by hiring lecturers and administrative professionals.
The Dean Designate of SEBI, Professor Leyland Lucas, followed up on what the Vice-Chancellor said, adding that they have recognised the changes in the needs of the nation; therefore an institution that is responsive to its needs is necessary to ensure that the nation has the right skills, competence and capabilities.

“Everything we have set up here is geared towards providing the nation with what it needs to move forward in both the public and private sectors,” Professor Lucas said.
Their mandate is expected to be carried out through a system called “ESCAPE” (Ethics, Superiority, Academics, Professionalism and Engagement).
ESCAPE, he said, will be complemented by CEED-Centre for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, which will let persons who are majoring in other fields join forces with those in the management fraternity and create a money-making initiative.

Mexico’s Ambassador to Guyana, Mr Ivan Sierra Medel, was also in support of the intervention, noting that SEBI can become the strategic asset to take advantage of international best practices and successful experiences in specific fields of doing business.
He, however, suggested that in order to have dialogue with the world, UG needs to introduce aspects such as foreign languages, internships, mentoring and confidence-building at the school.
Members of the private sector echoed similar sentiments, but pointed out that tertiary education has remained stagnant for a while, so in order to tap into new opportunities, the work of SEBI will be necessary in developing the countries’ human capital.

Article adapted from: http://guyanachronicle.com/2017/07/09/ug-launches-innovative-business-school


UG launches business school

9th July, 2017 0 comments

The University of Guyana (UG) on Friday evening launched its School of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation (SEBI), with the goal of educating and developing leaders and managers to contribute to the advancement of the nation.

Speaking at the launch at Duke Lodge, UG Vice-Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Griffith thanked those who helped make the vision of the business school a reality, while saying that it represented a partnership to creating opportunities for not only entrepreneurship in thinking and dreaming, but entrepreneurship in doing.

Griffith said the SEBI would begin tuition from the next semester as a team, led by UG’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Planning and International Engagement Dr Barbara Reynolds, has already been created to start working towards delivery.

SEBI programmes, Griffith said, will facilitate significant cross-discipline collaboration, allowing students in other areas to participate. He also said its programmes and courses would be internationally-accredited.

Professor Leyland Lucas, Visiting Professor in Business Strategy and Dean Designate of SEBI, told the launch that while the nation needs change, it also needs an institution responsive to its needs and one that ensures that it provides the skills, competencies and capabilities needed to move forward.

He noted that SEBI’s programmes, which will include undergraduate degree programmes in Accounting, Entrepreneur-ship, Finance, General Management, Supply Chain Management and Tourism, and graduate-level programmes in Entrepreneurship, Management, General Management and Sustainable Develop-ment, can all move the country forward.

Lucas, who also addressed concerns about accreditation of the programmes offered by the school, said that it will be accredited by one of the premier accrediting institutions in the world. He assured those in attendance that the degrees earned from SEBI will be recognised globally as the institution is establishing relationships with other entities to ensure professional certification.

Giving his congratulatory remarks at the launch, Ambassador of Mexico to Guyana Ivan Roberto Sierra Medel was optimistic that SEBI will jumpstart Guyana’s economic development. He anticipated too that the school will bring together academia and the private sector, Georgetown and the hinterland, and Guyanese around the world. “Somebody has to provide the specific training not only in strategy to tap into markets but in harvesting the tremendous friendship that can be part in successful economic engagements with the world,” the Ambassador said. “SEBI can become the strategic asset to take advantage of international business practices and successful experiences in the specific field of doing business,” he added.

SEBI has emerged from exhaustive engagements between the university and both the public and private sectors, as well as the intellectual effort of a feasibility study team that included highly qualified Guyanese in the diaspora, many of whom hold key administrative and academic positions at highly reputable universities in the United States.

Article adapted from: https://www.stabroeknews.com/2017/news/stories/07/09/ug-launches-business-school/


The University of Guyana and the business community

18th April, 2017 0 comments

Based on what he had to say on the issue during a recent lengthy interview for a forthcoming issue of the Guyana Review, it is clear that University of Guyana (UG) Vice Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Griffith believes that the future of the university will be heavily dependent on the quality of the relationship that it can cultivate with the private sector.

This is not surprising given his international background in key university positions in the United States and elsewhere. Professor Griffith understands only too well the symbiotic relationship the informs interaction between universities and the business community in First World countries and his focus on building such a partnership here in Guyana would be driven pretty much by his knowledge of successful outcomes elsewhere.

It has to be said that the desirability of strong ties between UG and the local business community did not begin with Professor Griffith’s advocacy. The idea has evolved in fits and starts and one can think of instances of grand plans and grandiose gatherings, which, once they would have gotten past the stage of rhetoric, have simply fizzed out. This is not to say that some have not met with a measure of success. There are examples in the telecommunications, technology and other sectors, of protracted and useful, indeed successful relationship between UG and the private sector though the overall UG/business community relationship has come nowhere near to that level of success.

One of the views that appear to inform Professor Griffith’s perspective on the fortunes of UG has to do with the fact that it has, for years, had to endure the dead hand of politics and there is no reason to believe that this does not extend to the lack of any comprehensive success in the realm of UG/private sector relations. Here, in probing the likely reasons for the underdevelopment of the relationship, Professor Griffith makes a number of interesting points, not all of which can be ventilated here; one, however, which has to do with the quality of the relationship, is eminently deserving of mention.

On the whole, the various UG/private sector relationships that exist are mostly informed by the phenomenon of giving on the part of the private sector and receiving on the part of the university. If it may be unkind to describe this type of relationship as parasitic, Professor Griffith makes no secret of his belief that UG has to prove itself deserving of what is, in effect, the private sector’s investment in its growth and development. Here, he makes the point, and candidly, that whereas the private sector has been crying out for skilled UG graduates in a number of disciplines, UG has been ‘coming up short’ for some years now in terms of some of the skills that it has been sending to the private sector.  “We have to give them reason to be confident that when they give they will see a changed output,” is what Professor Griffith said during the interview. In other words, the support of the business community for the University of Guyana cannot be a matter of authenticity.

More than that, and since there is an expectation that UG will help provide the skills to make the business community what we commonly describe as ‘the engine of growth,’ Professor Griffith wants the private sector to be involved in curriculum building; hence private sector support for the Turkeyen/Tain talks and the various other initiatives that seek the participation of the business community in helping to fashion aspects of curriculum specialization linked to their own interests.

Perhaps the advantage that the Griffith initiative has over its predecessors is that it presses into service external skills and experiences that can mobilize the resources necessary to undertake the journey towards a raising of its standards though the point that he leaves with us is that nothing is promised to UG and that if it is to secure the invaluable support which the business community can clearly give, it must earn that support.

Article adapted from: http://www.stabroeknews.com/2017/business/business-editorials/04/14/university-guyana-business-community/


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