UG Business Professor wants more commercial bank backing for business startups

3rd March, 2018 0 comments

Visiting Professor at the School of Enterprise and Business Innovation (SEBI) at the University of Guyana Dr. Leyland Lucas is advocating more robust support from the commercial banking sector for startup business ventures “in their greatest time of need” as one of the building blocks for the creation of an “entrepreneurial ecosystem” in Guyana.

In an article written for publication in the forthcoming issue of The Guyana Review, Professor Lucas argues that while “regulatory demands” place constraints on banks’ lending practices, this does not remove them from “the realm of responsibility” for promoting entrepreneurship and supporting the ecosystem. Commercial banks, Lucas contends, must “find ways to embrace entrepreneurship and the creation of new entities.” He says that “special programmes must be designed by banks to meet the needs of entrepreneurs, such that the ecosystem can thrive and become self-sustaining,” adding that “banks cannot survive by simply lending to established businesses…if banks are not there for entrepreneurs in the embryonic stage and their greatest time of need, then how can they expect to be embraced later? Such behaviour is tantamount to the absentee parent who, upon a child’s rise to a position of prominence, suddenly emerges and seeks to benefit.”

Lucas, meanwhile, is also calling for credit unions, which, he says, “are the guardians of significant financial assets” to play their role in the entrepreneurship system “as enablers of economic activity rather than guardians of savings,” a position which he says can be realized with “enlightened management and not much risk” and which can contribute to the creation of a new group of “wealth generators.” Such a move, Lucas says, requires personnel with the necessary knowledge to effectively perform the duties associated with the “new duties” of the credit union in terms of providing support for programmes designed to aid entrepreneurship.

According to Lucas, if an enabling entrepreneurship is to be created state policies must be designed to make it easy for entrepreneurs to access public sector systems and laws enacted to help promote entrepreneurship. Additionally, he writes that “regulatory frameworks must be developed to facilitate access to critical information, incentives created to support entrepreneurial ventures and effective enforcement mechanisms must be established.”

And while government has tagged the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest) and the Small Business Bureau (SBB) as critical players in attracting both local and overseas private sector investment   and supporting local small and medium-scale entrepreneurial ventures, respectively, Lucas opines that these alone are “not sufficient for entrepreneurship to grow.” The Ministries of Business, Trade, Communications, and our foreign missions, he says, “have particularly important roles to play in the development and sustenance of an entrepreneurship ecosystem.” And Lucas says that while the one-stop shop system which facilitates access to all government services has been the focus of government’s promotion of the country’s openness to foreign investment, what is seldom emphasized is “the importance of trust” to the smooth operations of this system. “Unfortunately, within our own society, this is a scarce commodity, Lucas adds.

In adding his voice to those that have already bemoaned the absence of supporting physical infrastructure for the creation of a convivial entrepreneurial ecosystem Professor Lucas alludes to the need for products created and ready for market to be supported by “effective logistics systems, reliable power supplies, and communications networks”. He says, “National resources must be devoted to creating an exceptional road and air transportation system, a reliable power grid, and a telecommunication system that is dependable. Products must be delivered on time to customers; delays in production due to power outages must be minimized; contacts between producers and customers must be reliable.” These support mechanisms, he says, are particularly important “within the context of business opportunities associated with the discovery and production of oil and gas. Entrepreneurship cannot thrive if these essential support systems are not dependable.”

Part of an enabling support infrastructure for an entrepreneurial ecosystem, Lucas says is a stable environment in which prospective entrepreneurs can work in which context he is advocating the creation of “regionally clustered entrepreneurship parks” within which various services should be provided to enhance the prospective entrepreneur’s experience, with the nature of these parks varying from one region to another.

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Lucas sees 2018 as breakout year for UG's School of Business

9th December, 2017 0 comments

Five months after the University of Guyana’s School of Entrepreneurship and Business, (SEBI) was launched, Dean of the new institution, Guyanese-born Professor Leyland Lucas has told the Stabroek Business that some of the challenges that repose in ensuring that the institution delivers on its mandate repose in the fact that “it is different. It is not an orthodox Business School”.

From the outset SEBI had committed to what it had determined from careful research was the need to respond to a counterproductive deficit in disciplines related to operating in both the public and private sectors in areas related to the effective delivery of goods and services. Not surprisingly, therefore, SEBI has found itself challenged by a student body that is anything but conventional, comprising as it does classes ranging from students with orthodox academic ambitions to those whose livelihoods depend on grasping the essentials necessary to run a business of their own.

“Some of our students have come to us with challenges that have nothing to do with academia. They are simply preoccupied with finding answers to those questions that have to do with running their own businesses,” Lucas told Stabroek Business. “Frankly, we recognize that some of our courses are still not fully developed to meet those needs. We hope that this will happen in the second term.”

But there is, he says, an upside to the complex mix of interests that comprise SEBI’s classes. Lucas embraces the outcomes of interaction on business issues that bring together the orthodox students and the ‘hard-nosed’ hustlers in exchanges that pit the orthodoxy of business theory against how it works in practice. Lucas believes that the outcomes of these exchanges   are almost always more rewarding. What has transpired since July has reinforced his view that SEBI itself remains a work in progress and that the tweaking to ensure that it becomes the ‘correct fit’ to meet the needs of the students will have to persist for some time.

For the lecturers the ‘journey’ has been an interesting one. Lucas says that they have learnt to deal with the dichotomy between and amongst the interests that obtain inside the classroom. “What this means is that we tend to have conversations rather than lecturers. They are structured in a manner that allows for conversations rather than lectures. We want the business people to be part of the conversations.

Long before SEBI had launched its classes it had been engaging both public and private sector institutions. Those discourses, Lucas says, persists, with agencies like the state-run Small Business Bureau which has already collaborated with SEBI to stage a business symposium.

Professor Lucas sees 2018 as a breakout year during which SEBI will intensify its engagements with both the public and private sectors with a views to determining how its offerings can improve the effectiveness of their operations. Outside of the state agencies that include entities like the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest) SEBI’S 2018 ‘to do’ list also includes meetings with the Private Sector Commission, the Guyana Manufacturing & Services Association, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and the Guyana Association of Bankers.

In 2018 SEBI seeks to further promote what it has to offer. Professor Lucas told Stabroek Business that ongoing discussions with the banking community could lead to the rolling out of a Diploma in Banking and Finance. Next year will also see SEBI offering a Customer Service Certificate Programme for the medical sector.

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Local Content policy must embrace strong regulatory practices to protect against 'fronting' - UG Business Professor

30th October, 2017 0 comments

Dr Leyland Lucas,  Visiting Professor at the School of Entrepreneur-ship and Business Innovation (SEBI) at the University of Guyana has said that the pursuit of an effective local content policy for the oil and gas industry must seek, among other things, to create a local content policy that seeks to bring an equity of benefits.

“Whenever new opportunities arise, there will always be efforts to accrue benefits by some who are not entitled to do so. Particularly in a country such as ours where control systems are stretched and dishonesty is pervasive, regulations must be enacted against such things as ‘fronting.’ Strong regulatory controls must be established to guard against firms using nefarious means to indicate their eligibility. While no fool-proof system can be designed, there must be enough sizeable penalties to serve as disincentives to those who seek to violate the rules,” the UG Professor writes in an article published in this issue of the Stabroek Business.

Professor Lucas says, meanwhile, that the building of a strong educational system is essential if Guyana is to benefit from an oil and gas-driven local content policy. “For me, a strong educational system is essential to benefitting from any local content policy. The educational system must provide the skills needed by local firms that are either positioned or are seeking to position themselves to benefit from any local content policy,” Professor Lucas says in a paper titled ‘Challenges to Local Content Policy’ prepared for publication in the Stabroek Business.

And according to Dr. Lucas, Guyana may, as yet, still not have such an education system. “Over the years, we have seen tertiary institutions receiving limited resources. One does not produce engineers, supply chain management experts, logistics personnel, managers and forensic accountants overnight, Lucas says, adding that “doing so requires years of investment in academic offerings.” The university academic says in his article that such investments “require the recruitment of highly qualified and committed faculty, capable and innovative academic administrators, provision of equipment on which state-of-the-art training can occur, construction of modern training facilities and a shift in the approach to learning,” which shift, her said, should emphasize both risk-taking and innovativeness “as against the current focus on rote learning and regurgitative practices.”

And Lucas says in his article that the requirement that a specific percentage of inputs be produced by local manufacturers represents one of the simplest ways in which local firms can benefit through backward linkages. However, he contends that in order to exploit these opportunities there is need for a vibrant manufacturing base, one that can deliver inputs in a timely manner. “To do so the manufacturing base must exist and delivery systems must be reliable. These are inseparable as products that cannot be delivered are valueless. Hence there must be some commitment, (locally) to building a manufacturing base supported by a reliable logistics system to ensure timely delivery.”

The strengths of a robust local content policy, however, do not gainsay the threatened downside of what he describes as a “Johnny come lately” effect on material supplies. He explained that firms capable of supplying items to the oil and gas sector, upon discovering that the prices being offered “are significantly higher than what is paid elsewhere may withdraw from the traditional market thereby creating an artificial shortage. “With that shortage comes rising prices and possible health consequences for the remaining populace. Thus, as part of local content policy one must attempt to ascertain the possible effects of supply diversion.”

Lucas says that similar instances of artificial shortages can also emerge for human capital in already undersupplied areas. He contends that “if nurses, doctors and other critical human resources determine that through local content policy they can benefit from increased earnings, then they will opt to pursue this option. By doing so it again creates artificial shortages in other already stretched areas.”

The UG Business Professor says, however, that amid concerns about artificial shortages, one possible unintended but highly beneficial consequence of any local content policy “could be a significant shift of population away from the coastline towards regions close to the oil and gas sector. He said that while it is possible that a significant number of supplies which can yield returns from local content policy are likely to come from the coastline and traditional regions of production, “incentives could be provided to encourage firms to relocate to areas currently underpopulated,” Lucas added.

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School of Business seeks to consolidate UG's role in responding to local skills scarcity headaches

7th August, 2017 0 comments

When the University of Guyana’s (UG) School of Entrepreneurship, Business and Innovation throw open its doors at Turkeyen and Tain to students for the first time later this month, the institution will be beginning its ascent to new heights in pursuit of the relevance of the offering of the institution to the development of Guyana.

SEBI’s Visiting Professor Leyland Lucas is unmistakably upbeat about the transformative effect that SEBI can have, as much on the informal sector as on the traditional public and private sectors. He points out that the significance of SEBI reposes in the fact that it is not an abstract academic contrivance but a response to what is felt to be a critical developmental need that has been overlooked for far too long.

SEBI, Professor Lucas says, emerged from three sets of considerations: the pronouncement made by President David Granger regarding the need to look beyond the traditional public service for viable employment options, the “vision” on the part of UG’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Griffith in seeking to take the institution in a direction that renders it more relevant and the feedback gleaned particularly from private sector institutions and entrepreneurs regarding the paucity of skills available to fuel the movement of the private sector.

What makes SEBI both unique and critically relevant to the country’s developmental needs is its distinctive flexibility, its ability to respond to both the training needs of students seeking a formal academic qualification as well as private and public sector entities hoping for the targeted upgrading of specialized disciplines and skills of their employees to render them more relevant to the entrepreneurial requirements of the enterprises that they serve. There is too, Professor Lucas says, a third rung on the ladder of education and training that allows for individuals (or groups) wrestling with the myriad challenges of managing modest entrepreneurial endeavours to benefit from SEBI’s practical guidance provided through structured programmes.

At the level of its academic programme SEBI will offer conventional degree programmes in disciplines that include Accounting, Finance, General Management, Tourism Studies and Supply Chain Management, among others. Beyond these there are more targeted programmes, fashioned out of the particular requirements of the participants and targeting the needs of individuals and public and private sector institutions. The latter focus of SEBI, Professor Lucas says, embraces a target group that ranges from those public and private sector institutions that have been forever clamouring over the lack of skills, to the host of individuals and groups in the informal sector including small vendors whose absence of entrepreneurial know-how have been largely responsible for the challenges they have faced in seeking growth for their businesses.

Long before the exhaustive consultations between UG and its various audiences that spawned the creation of SEBI had been concluded, representatives of deficient local public and private sector organizations had already found their way to Turkeyen to plead their various skills-scarcity cases and to seek the university’s help.

All of this is taking place against the backdrop of the reality of a university which is not only seriously cash-strapped, but still lacking in some of the requisites necessary for the effective delivery of its existing curriculum. Lucas himself admits that when consideration is given to offering the SEBI programme on both of the university’s campuses it becomes an undertaking that is beyond the capability of UG alone. He says that the recruitment of individual faculty, over time, is clearly necessary, but the many and varied national needs to which SEBI seeks to respond do not allow for any further prevarication in the launch of the initiative. To meet SEBI’s immediate needs, the existing corps of lecturers in the various disciplines, volunteer diaspora academics, and experienced and successful local entrepreneurs, managers and business support organizations will be pressed into service, as much for their formal qualifications as for their experience to help deliver a curriculum comprising both formal classroom instruction and field exercises as well as informal coaching designed to respond to the many and varied needs of the SEBI curriculum.

At the levels of both faculty support and student intake Lucas anticipates a measure of broader Caricom involvement. He anticipates what he says is likely to be “a measure of UWI support in the provision of teaching resources,” whilst two countries in the region, Antigua and St Lucia have already signalled to the university their interest in benefiting from the training that SEBI seeks to offer.

At intervals during his interview with the Stabroek Business Professor Lucas returned pointedly to the significance of the evolution of SEBI, not least, the fact that UG’ newest education and training compartment derives from what has been widely determined to be some of the critical human resource deficiencies in the society. The dialogue with the broader society – the public and private sectors and the modest entrepreneurial aspirants – he says, will persist through the creation of an Advisory Board that will seek to reflect the many and varied interests that spawned SEBI in the first place and which will play a central role in charting SEBI’s course, going forward.

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UG launches innovative business school

10th July, 2017 0 comments

IN keeping with the constantly changing economic environment, the University of Guyana (UG) on Friday launched its School of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation (SEBI) with the aim of moving away from conventional teaching.
Members of the private sector, the education sector and other stakeholders gathered at the Roraima Duke Lodge in Kingston to witness the unveiling of the banner bearing the insignia of the new faculty.

The new school, which is set to open at the start of the new semester in September, will offer new undergraduate and graduate degrees, executive degrees and short-term programmes.
Students who were engaged in management studies through the university’s Social Sciences Faculty will be able to continue their studies under the new school, and even be able to pursue areas such as accounting, finance, and supply chain management among other things.

“Some of what is happening is, we will be shifting the management department and offering new degree programmes such as entrepreneurship,” Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw Griffith said at the opening.
“Also, we will not be waiting to offer degrees, because we will have a number of courses and specifically tailored programmes that can be done in days, weeks and even months,” he added.
As opposed to the Faculty of Social Sciences, the school will be moving away from just creating opportunities for entrepreneurship in thinking and dreaming, and looking towards entrepreneurship in doing.

In order to ensure the desired outcomes, a thorough feasibility study into the project was done after the idea was first mooted in 2016.
The process included local, regional and international stakeholders, who explored several ideas that were later conceptualised into the school’s curriculum.
Professor Griffith alluded to the inclusivity of the project, pointing out that stakeholders visited areas in Regions Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) and 10 (Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice) in order to hear the views of persons who will potentially benefit from the SEBI.


“We have come a long way, and we intend to start delivering the product this coming semester,” Professor Griffith said, adding:
“We have already sent out the implementation team, members of the technical unit and other persons in all the elements of the university who are working towards the actualisation.”

The team, he said, is now in the process of building the capacity of staff by hiring lecturers and administrative professionals.
The Dean Designate of SEBI, Professor Leyland Lucas, followed up on what the Vice-Chancellor said, adding that they have recognised the changes in the needs of the nation; therefore an institution that is responsive to its needs is necessary to ensure that the nation has the right skills, competence and capabilities.

“Everything we have set up here is geared towards providing the nation with what it needs to move forward in both the public and private sectors,” Professor Lucas said.
Their mandate is expected to be carried out through a system called “ESCAPE” (Ethics, Superiority, Academics, Professionalism and Engagement).
ESCAPE, he said, will be complemented by CEED-Centre for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, which will let persons who are majoring in other fields join forces with those in the management fraternity and create a money-making initiative.

Mexico’s Ambassador to Guyana, Mr Ivan Sierra Medel, was also in support of the intervention, noting that SEBI can become the strategic asset to take advantage of international best practices and successful experiences in specific fields of doing business.
He, however, suggested that in order to have dialogue with the world, UG needs to introduce aspects such as foreign languages, internships, mentoring and confidence-building at the school.
Members of the private sector echoed similar sentiments, but pointed out that tertiary education has remained stagnant for a while, so in order to tap into new opportunities, the work of SEBI will be necessary in developing the countries’ human capital.

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UG launches business school

9th July, 2017 0 comments

The University of Guyana (UG) on Friday evening launched its School of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation (SEBI), with the goal of educating and developing leaders and managers to contribute to the advancement of the nation.

Speaking at the launch at Duke Lodge, UG Vice-Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Griffith thanked those who helped make the vision of the business school a reality, while saying that it represented a partnership to creating opportunities for not only entrepreneurship in thinking and dreaming, but entrepreneurship in doing.

Griffith said the SEBI would begin tuition from the next semester as a team, led by UG’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Planning and International Engagement Dr Barbara Reynolds, has already been created to start working towards delivery.

SEBI programmes, Griffith said, will facilitate significant cross-discipline collaboration, allowing students in other areas to participate. He also said its programmes and courses would be internationally-accredited.

Professor Leyland Lucas, Visiting Professor in Business Strategy and Dean Designate of SEBI, told the launch that while the nation needs change, it also needs an institution responsive to its needs and one that ensures that it provides the skills, competencies and capabilities needed to move forward.

He noted that SEBI’s programmes, which will include undergraduate degree programmes in Accounting, Entrepreneur-ship, Finance, General Management, Supply Chain Management and Tourism, and graduate-level programmes in Entrepreneurship, Management, General Management and Sustainable Develop-ment, can all move the country forward.

Lucas, who also addressed concerns about accreditation of the programmes offered by the school, said that it will be accredited by one of the premier accrediting institutions in the world. He assured those in attendance that the degrees earned from SEBI will be recognised globally as the institution is establishing relationships with other entities to ensure professional certification.

Giving his congratulatory remarks at the launch, Ambassador of Mexico to Guyana Ivan Roberto Sierra Medel was optimistic that SEBI will jumpstart Guyana’s economic development. He anticipated too that the school will bring together academia and the private sector, Georgetown and the hinterland, and Guyanese around the world. “Somebody has to provide the specific training not only in strategy to tap into markets but in harvesting the tremendous friendship that can be part in successful economic engagements with the world,” the Ambassador said. “SEBI can become the strategic asset to take advantage of international business practices and successful experiences in the specific field of doing business,” he added.

SEBI has emerged from exhaustive engagements between the university and both the public and private sectors, as well as the intellectual effort of a feasibility study team that included highly qualified Guyanese in the diaspora, many of whom hold key administrative and academic positions at highly reputable universities in the United States.

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UG partners with Mexico for School of Entrepreneurship & Business Innovation

26th June, 2017 0 comments

The University of Guyana(UG) is partnering with Mexico to deliver its School of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation programme.

Vice Chancellor of UG, Professor Dr. Ivelaw Griffith at a recent press conference said that Mexico, through the local embassy, has committed to providing an instructor in the Spanish language for the new programme.

“We’re asking every student that graduates from that School of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation has one language other than English. Spanish will be one of those languages; Mandarin will be one of those languages and Portuguese,” Professor Griffith explained.

“Mexico through its embassy and the UG have been developing over the last year several different strands of partnership,” the Vice Chancellor said. In May, the Mexican Embassy sponsored a presenter to participate in the Turkeyen and Taine Talks on the oil and gas sector.

The UG has been restructuring its curriculum to meet the practical capacities of the local business community.

UG has been developing partnerships and “friendships” with local and international partners as part of its renaissance movement. The Vice Chancellor noted the renaissance project seeks to take different non-traditional paths and build friendships and partnerships in a variety of ways to improve the functioning of the University.

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School of Entrepreneurship looks to be a game-changer for UG

5th May, 2017 0 comments

Come next semester, the University of Guyana (UG) will be opening the doors of its new School of Entrepreneur-ship and Business Innovation (SEBI), an initiative which Vice Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Griffith says is reflective of a re-examination of the relevance and delivery of the institution’s programmes “in keeping with national development, industry needs, student-centred learning and faculty development.”

In a nutshell, all of this means that the University of Guyana, having undergone a re-examination of the relevance of its curriculum to the .... read more here

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Discussion on School of Entrepreneurship & Business Innovation

1st May, 2017 0 comments

Press Secretary and Television Anchor Malika N. Ramsey discusses the School of Entrepreneurship and Business Innovations. The team included members from the University of Guyana.

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