Second annual Diaspora conference set for June 2019

The second annual Diaspora and Entrepreneurial Conference is set for June 16-20, 2019 at the Ramada Hotel, Providence, East Bank Demerara, and is back with a focus on enhancing understanding of the ways in which skills within the Diaspora can contribute towards the development of Guyana and the wider Caribbean. Under the theme, ‘Building a New Business Paradigm: Engaging the Diaspora for an Enhanced Caribbean Competitive Landscape Consider Papers/Panels/Participation, the conference seeks to address the issue of ‘brain drain’ and how it has over the past decades continue to constrain economic and social development. The event, which is an undertaking by the University of Guyana (UG), will feature academic scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers who will join in examining how entrepreneurship has supported and can continue to support economic transformation in a developing economy. It is expected to be co-chaired by Director of Strategic Initiatives, Vice Chancellery, UG, Dr. Fitzgerald Yaw and Dean, School of Entrepreneurship and Business (SEBI), UG Professor Leyland Lucas. Topics to be covered at the conference include, but are not limited to: Entrepreneurship: Opportunity recognition, exploration and exploitation; Diaspora entrepreneurship and local business development: Motivation, Governance and Trust; Youth Entrepreneurship: Keys/Challenges to success; Indigenous entrepreneurship and community development; Women Entrepreneurship: Social challenges, barriers and keys to success. It will also cover Refugee Entrepreneur: Chances and challenges to success; Gender and ethnicity in entrepreneurship; Credit Unions: Investment resource, mechanisms to enhance competitiveness; Competitiveness of Caribbean entrepreneurs compared to foreign direct investors: Business model/structure/mechanism of Diaspora entrepreneurs; Open ICT ecosystems as catalysts for collaboration, growth and innovation and The Diaspora as “Local Content”. According to reports out of UG, “As we observe the economic challenges in the regions and prepare, for example, for the emergence of the Oil and Gas Sector in Guyana, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the traditional way of doing business cannot yield success. The gaps in skills and competencies are necessary to spur local involvement are clear.” It was pointed out that this is not only reflected in the opportunities from which local companies and individuals can benefit, but also the need for rapid efforts at training within multiple technical and management sectors of the economy. This occurs at a time when the strategic implementations of the shift away from the sugar industry are becoming more evident, and the movement towards greater entrepreneurial activity is being advocated. UG noted that the focus on entrepreneurial activity is of particular significance to the youth, women, indigenous and Diaspora population, whose ideas and initiatives will serve as the foundation for new ventures and innovations. “Yet, as we have seen, current initiatives to support these groups are often stymied by the absence of funding, lack of adequate training and non access to critical social, human and other networks. These facts suggest that there is not only a need for the Diaspora to ‘return home’, but also bring their global business principles, connections, access to critical resources and ideas to support business and social development,” said the tertiary educational institution. It continued, “As has been seen through the Singaporean, Chinese, Kenyan, and other countries lens, migration paths become increasingly important for traditional economies to be transformed to rapidly improve the quality of life of their citizens and residents and become dominant in regional global powers. As members of the Diaspora bring their human and financial capital to the Caribbean region, they assume levels of risks as entrepreneurs, and they bring their knowledge and networks to the entrepreneurial environment resulting in innovations, expansion of existing businesses, and the creation of new ones.” Last year’s inaugural conference was held under the theme “Dreaming Diaspora Engagement, Doing Diaspora Engagement.” It was held at the aforementioned venue and attracted scores of participants.

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