RESIDENTS of Region 10 (Upper Demerara/Upper Berbice) are to once again benefit from financing for business and entrepreneurial activities through a new Linden Enterprise Network (LEN) programme.
This most welcome news comes to the Region 10 community compliments of provisions made in the 2015 budget, and after the region had suffered five years of lack of access to business advisory and business incubation services and financing for small and medium enterprises (SME).
Government has allocated $155 million to re-launch the LEN programme, and Finance Minister Winston Jordan disclosed that the fund will be used to provide institutional and capacity building support to SMEs within Region 10.
The LEN programme was successor to the Linden Economic Advancement Programme (LEAP) which was launched in 2002. It was reinforced by the Linden Economic Advancement Fund (LEAF), which was designed to finance projects geared towards economic development.
The LEN had been dormant since 2010, but a new Board of Directors was inaugurated in 2014 by the former administration, although that development had some amount of controversy attending it, since the then representatives of the Regional Democratic Council of Region 10 did not hesitate to express their disappointment, during the inaugural ceremony, that members of the board had been handpicked without the RDC representatives having an input in their selection.
The then Regional Councillor, Mr. Renis Morian, had given his take on the event: “I am happy that a board is in, but my disappointment is rooted in the fact that the people of Linden, through their elected members, were not allowed to make a contribution to say who should be a part of the board; and it is disturbing that the Chairman for most projects in Linden is always (someone) from out (side) of the Region. We need someone who knows the plight of the people; someone who has felt the pains of the ordinary man in this town.
“The Board should be a representative of the people who would have been appointed by their respective groups…for instance, a representative from the RDC appointed by the councillors.
Morian had said then: “It is wrong to foist a Board on the community who, by its very composition, do not feel duty bound to answer to the community for the management of this Fund, because they were not appointed by the people.”
The status of the Board appointed by the former Administration in 2014 is currently unknown.