THE Linden Enterprise Network (LEN) has shifted its focus to agricultural empowerment in Region 10, cognisant of the region’s high level of dependability on agricultural production.
LEN is a financial government institution indigenous to the mining town of Linden, which provides needed financial support for business ventures.
Chief Executive Officer (ag) of LEN, Tanniza Gasper, said aside from providing financial loans, greater technical and tangible assistance will be given to persons in the agricultural sector. These include farmers, seedling and poultry producers and apiculturists.
The hallmark of the agricultural project was the distribution of 800 seedlings to farmers. Most of the seedlings were hot and sweet peppers, given the upsurge in pepper processing in Linden. In a bid to meet the demands for these agro processors, farmers were encouraged to plant pepper.
LEN would have also assisted two youths with establishing bee hives, given the demand for honey locally.
“That is one of the areas we want to promote because there is a demand for honey and most times we have to import honey in the country… we are hoping to create an awareness and a likeness, spinning off from that we want to be able to train youths, from now to about September; our goal is to have about 40 bee hives,” Gasper said.
A partner of LEN would have given the institution access to over 20 acres of land to pursue apiculture, an area that is expected to bring favourable returns. Youths who will be involved in the apiculture training project will also be recommended for grants from the Small Business Bureau to set up their businesses.
The Guyana School of Agriculture was also engaged to provide training and support in the area of fruit-agro processing.
“In the season when different fruits are in, there is a lot of wastage. We want to have the youths understand that they could create employment for themselves in that area,” Gasper explained.
LEN will be using the Linden Trade Fair and Exposition which is slated for this weekend, to create awareness in these areas and also to have first-hand demonstration on how these various forms of agro processing as well as apiculture is done.
“What we want to do is create awareness and by creating awareness, we want to show models, so persons can see the prototype,” the CEO (ag) said.
In addition to agriculture, LEN is also embarking on a local interlocking block making project with the use of bauxite laterite and overburden.
Support to boost the local bread production industry in Linden is also a project on the 2018-2019 agenda. It is not only about lending money but about giving whatever support is needed to see entrepreneurs flourish and the Linden economy ripen.
Gasper said, “We see LEN as an area where you can have all your business taken care of under one umbrella. If you need financial assistance, LEN would give it to you; if you need technical assistance, LEN would be the place; if you have a business idea and you just want to develop, LEN is the place.”
One of the institution’s major challenge was providing funding to clients and the funds were not used to establish or expand businesses. LEN has now implemented stringent measures to ensure that funds are not misappropriated. In addition to a client having to submit more documentation, the client is also required to provide valid quotations for their business ventures and the purchase is made directly to the supplier by LEN. While cash is still needed in a lot of cases, the client is expected to provide a proposal showing how the cash will be spent.
In 2017, two of LEN’s senior officials were relieved of their duties by Minister of Finance, Winston Jordon. CEO Gasper as well as chairman of the board, Orin Gordon are putting stringent measures in place to ensure that LEN’s funds are used for its purpose and that is to finance small businesses in Linden. To date, some 412 clients have accessed funding from LEN.