Youths taking lead

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…as Linden sees boom in small business

By Vanessa Braithwaite

The strength of the economy of the mining town of Linden, no longer lies in bauxite mining. Economic experts and regional officials have been pushing two sectors – business and agriculture, as the gateway to a diversified economy. During the early stages of the COVID-19 Pandemic, as was the case of other towns and even countries, Linden’s economy took a downward spiral.

Kristy Dazzel

This however may have served as a blessing more than a curse as it gave persons the time to internalise and analyze other ways they can make money and how they can utilise or enhance their skills to do so.

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In the most recent months of the pandemic, Linden has seen a significant increase in the establishment of  micro-businesses. Persons have taken advantage of filling the many niche markets and are making money in the confines of their homes, with the use of their hands. Fast food, art, agro-processing, skin and hair products and many more are just some of the niche markets that Lindeners have taken up.

Social media is flooded daily with advertisements of cupcakes, lunch boxes, locally made and packaged hair and body products and unique jewellery such as waist beads and so much more.

Linden Chamber of Commerce (LCC) President Victor Fernandes, has confirmed that there has been a significant increase in youths using the LCC office to register their micro-businesses.

“Almost every day we see quite a number of persons doing new registration, there is an indication of persons doing micro businesses on a large scale in Linden presently, despite we are in a pandemic,” Fernandes said.

Business logo designer Dexter Copeland related that while he did business logo designing prior to the pandemic, the demand for business logos has significantly increased over the last few months. For a month, he averaged completing between six to ten logos for small business owners in Linden, which they use to advertise, using social media platforms. “There has been a real significant increase since the COVID started. I would do about six to 10 logos a month and it keeps increasing because people are opening more businesses every day,” Copeland told the Village Voice.

Helping with branding 

One Lindener who started her graphics designing business in 2019, found a niche during the pandemic to expand her services. Kristy Dazzel, owner of Kristy Dazzeling Graphics said she noticed a lot of small businesses emerging, particularly agro-processing businesses and saw an opportunity to provide them with quality labeling design for their packaging. “During the pandemic I noticed a lot of small businesses emerging and I was more than happy to be chosen to help with their branding and making sure when their customers see their products it would catch their eyes,” she said. Realising too that persons utilised their extra time during the lock down to discover their skill or improve on their skills, Kristy realised that each business needs the help of another to be successful, hence the establishment of one business, creates a chain reaction in the local economy.

She decided to provide the link of labeling on that chain. “So far there hasn’t been a day where I haven’t gotten orders, so from time to time I would have to take a week’s rest from it for my well being, because if I’m not good, my business won’t be good.”

Visual aids

Nikisha Elexey

Filling the niche of visual aids for home and virtual schooling during the pandemic is Nikisha Elexey Being uncertain as to what would happen with her job during the early stages of the lock down, Elexey decided to relaunch her designing business -Team Ari Designs. Realising there needed to be a solution for home and virtual schooling, she decided to fill that niche by providing learning aids to make parents’ jobs easier at home. “People became interested in my learning aids and activity charts since children were being home schooled.” Nikisha is one to always have a knack for bringing plain things to life and with the ever popular wooden letters that are seen at weddings and ceremonial events, she decided to fill the niche of making these boring plain letters into creative,colourful and uniquely themed ones for particularly birthday occasions. “My second born birthday was right around the corner and I wanted to do something special for him, hence ,I created a special SpongeBob themed wooden letter design for him. I received a lot of compliments and persons became interested in that too. That’s when I decided that I need a page specially for my designing and persons even from the diaspora reached out and supported me.” Not a week passes without Nikisha receiving orders for her designs.

Fernandes told Village Voice Guyana that he is happy with the approach many Lindeners, particularly youths, are taking in controlling their own paycheck. “It  indicates that persons are not simply laying back and waiting for hands outs but they have the spirit of being able to fulfil the needs of the community. It is encouraging to see that persons have that kind of spirit,” he said.

Representation

Fenandes who is also the Vice Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) said that he is taking the change of business climate in Linden seriously and is making the needed representation for Lindeners and the development of the business sector as well as the general development of the town which will further push the town’s economic growth. “What is needed is more training programmes to help them to formulate their businesses, in their accounting, packaging and general operations in their businesses, which will help them to be more effective and more results oriented, so from the level of the Private Sector, we have been engaging various entities and various ministries. We have engaged even the President and the Prime Minister.” We are actively engaged and involved in learning the objectives of the Government which can translate to active involvement for our businesses,” Fernandes said.

The new Government has promised an open approach to the PSC and Fernandes said he will continue to use this open approach to make adequate representation on behalf of the Linden business community. With the necessary support, it is guaranteed that the business community in Linden can flourish. Every day a different niche is created and needs to be filled. Kristy’s advice to Lindeners, “If you want to start a business in an oversaturated market, be original, even if someone else is doing the same thing, offer something that would be different from what they do or how they do it. There’s room for everyone so don’t be afraid to start.”



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