Meet the man behind the 'Google of Guyana'
When Triston Thompson and his cousin decided to launch information technology company IntellectStorm in 2014, they knew they would have an uphill battle.
“IT is not something that is adopted that much in Guyana,” the 20-year-old explained. “Businesses are still stuck in their old way of doing things.”
Thompson wanted to help bring his country into the 21st century. He had studied computer science and graduated cum laude from the University of Guyana. Through IntellectStorm, he wants to show people how the internet can be used as a tool to engage customers and build relationships.
Thompson calls one of his company’s products the “Google of Guyana.” This mobile app, called Directory.gy, is a resource on “everything Guyana,” from current news and upcoming events to businesses, restaurants and public services. Directory.gy was recognized by the Guyanan government as the official application of the 50th anniversary of Guyana’s independence and took first place at the PitchIT Caribbean Challenge in Jamaica.
Connecting with others
A challenge for Thompson was figuring out how to get the word out about his company.
“It’s difficult in Guyana to come into the entrepreneurial ecosystem and just sell yourself alone,” said Thompson, who grew up in a village called Melanie Damishana, about 17 kilometers from Guyana’s capital of Georgetown. You have to expand your network and get people to “know you and what you can do.”
Participating in a Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative pilot program helped him do just that. Thompson received valuable feedback on his ideas, and encouragement — “one of the most helpful things” about his YLAI experience. Since then, he has expanded his professional network and collaborated with another YLAI fellow on an IT application.
Thompson is optimistic that more IT solutions will catch on in Guyana and that IntellectStorm will become one of the top Guyanan tech companies. What’s next? More connections and stronger relationships with other entrepreneurs and businesspeople. “Even people in government can be good connections to build,” he adds. “You never know who could be the key to your progress.”
Connecting with other entrepreneurs has helped Thompson stay positive and focused on his venture, especially during the first year when funds were tight. “Being part of a community of entrepreneurs helps you to realize that you’re not alone, that your problems are not unique,” he said.
His advice to other entrepreneurs? “Surround yourself with positive people who will build you up and not tear you down.”
Article adapted from: https://ylai.state.gov/meet-man-behind-google-guyana-20170713/
UG launches innovative business school
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.
DELIVERING THE PRODUCT
“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.
Article adapted from: http://guyanachronicle.com/2017/07/09/ug-launches-innovative-business-school
Discussion on School of Entrepreneurship & Business Innovation
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.
Click here to download the PDF file.
- The University of Guyana