IPED opens new West Berbice branch
- US$340,000 boost expected shortly

By Daniel DaCosta
Stabroek News
January 29, 2000

The Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED) will, within a few days, sign an agreement for a US$340,000 grant with the United States government for the micro-sector in Guyana.

Chairman of IPED, Yesu Persaud, made this disclosure yesterday while addressing a small gathering at the official opening of the D'Edward branch office of the Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED) on the West Coast Berbice.

Persaud noted that the institute had come a long way since its establishment and had carved a niche in helping ordinary people to develop themselves. He disclosed that since the branch was established, it has approved 311 loans, 197 of which were for women.

Giving the feature address at the event, President Bharrat Jagdeo noted that as a result of the evolution of concepts of development, credit today had become a basic need. "If people do not have access to credit... we cannot develop an entrepreneurial class," he added. Describing IPED as "a dynamic institute" despite criticisms, President Jagdeo noted that through hard work and commitment the institute had grown and was providing valuable service to Guyanese particularly in the rural communities. "There is always a role for small enterprises in Guyana's development and this is why IPED is so important particularly in providing credit for rural residents." And noting the ratio of women to men in IPED's loan statistics, the President referred to them as "untapped resources".

He noted that in the past women had been left out and disadvantaged, but today were playing important roles in nation building in developing countries. He said that they would have an even greater role to play in the future.

The President disclosed that a draft Small Business Bill has been formulated which will be circulated for perusal. The Bill, he said, seeks to provide easier loan conditions and special incentives for small enterprises. He called on West Berbicians to make full use of the facility before presenting cheques to six clients.

Touching briefly on his meeting later in the afternoon with regional and neighbourhood democratic councillors, the head of state said, "I will be emphasising the need for proper conduct in government matters, transparency in financial matters and the fact that they are there to serve the interest of the community."

United States Ambassador James Mack said that over the years the US government had given over US$8 million to IPED. "The United States government through the United States Agency for International Development [USAID] is committed to an economic growth strategy that emphasises poor people's economic empowerment and recognises micro-enterprise development as an important means to this end," he said.

Noting that the institute was beginning to move forward in achieving the principle of institutional and financial self-sufficiency, the ambassador reassured, "we will continue to support IPED's efforts in improving its micro-lending window."

The institute's office in the area began on a part-time basis in the third quarter of 1998. In an effort to satisfy the increasing demand for its services, a full-time office was established in the Hand-in-Hand insurance company building in February 1999. The branch started with a loan portfolio of 105, at a value of $21 million. As of December 31, 1999 the branch had a portfolio of 311 loans with a value of approximately $75 million with 107 new loans being fully repaid.