By Linda Nwoke, CAW Exclusive
Described as a mysterious land, Guyana has a rich culture with a varied and luscious landscape. It is home to the world’s largest and most powerful single-drop waterfall, the Kaieteur Falls, one of the most powerful waterfalls globally, with an average water flow rate of over 660 cubic meters per second.
The country has a unique composition of people with descendants from East India and Africa. It remains as a country with a massive number of untapped resources in natural material and potentials. Given its dense rainforest, it is a scientific haven for scientists worldwide, not to mention the largely untapped gold mines.
Guyana remains a fascinating destination to visit and see structures like the floating bridges. It enjoys its hospitality by tasting its famous ‘El Dorado’ rum for spirit lovers.
Besides travels, as the world gradually unfolds and businesses open post-COVID-19 pandemic, Guyana presents itself as an excellent location for investors from its citizens – Guyanese in the Diaspora, and the rest of the world, who wants to expand their investment portfolio.
In an exclusive interview with Caribbean American Weekly, the Advisor for the Investment and Diaspora Affairs Initiatives for the Guyana Consulate in New York, Mr. Joe Youssef, we explored the industry, his mandate, and the benefits of doing business in Guyana.
Yussuff’s role in the initiative is to provide advisory services to investors who want to invest in Guyana, ensure proper guidance and information. He also seeks to enable them to succeed and limit the level of frustration that can arise from exploring this new frontier.
The Investment and Diaspora Affairs Initiatives serve primarily as a resource for information, networking, and smooth transition into Guyana. Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali endorsed the role within the Consulate. “So, in my position, my responsibility is to make myself readily available to meet with the Guyanese Diaspora, whether it’s on a one-on-one basis, whether it’s a meeting or a large forum. That is what my role is. And I do that every day, going to churches, mosques, and otherwise, to meet with our folks.”
Besides providing advisory services on the ideas and investment opportunities -agriculture, oil, and gas; he can give feedback on viable innovative business opportunities in Guyana. “Come up with something creative or innovative, that you feel this is something that you wanted to do lifelong, then come and talk to us about it. It doesn’t have to be one of those things that are on the list on our website.”
No idea is off-limits, and investors are encouraged to be creative in considering some of the needs in the country besides apparent sectors. “I had someone who I met with recently, and he is not from Guyana. He is from Bangladesh. Because he heard so much about Guyana, he wants to go back and produce frozen roti in Guyana and export to New York. So, in my meeting with him, I gave him all of the guidelines to be followed regarding going to Guyana, getting to know Guyana a little bit – getting to know the people, before he even jumps into it. But that’s just one example. Healthcare is a huge thing that we need in Guyana. Also, as foreigners go to Guyana, healthcare is essential to them”.
Listen to an interview with Mr. Joe Youssef on “Investing in Guyana” below:
Incentives for Investors
There are numerous incentives for investors in Guyana, ranging from tax exemption to migration incentives and beyond, which are decided based on the nature of the investment. However, investors must follow formal procedures such as preparing and submitting an investment package to “Go Invest’ in Guyana. After a review, they will invite the investor to discuss the proposal and possible incentives. “That is where the ‘Go Invest’ will meet with you and tell you what you are entitled to receive. So, it’s not just carte blanche. It’s not a one-size-fits-all. No, it depends on the business you’re opening in Guyana, depending on what you’re going to do. And that’s where they will tell you what the incentives that you will be entitled to receive.”
Top Reasons to Invest in Guyana
For those searching for reasons to invest in Guyana besides a conducive, friendly, and welcoming environment supported by the government, various factors like the awakening oil sector, attractive tourism, and hospitality economy, not to mention the untapped manufacturing goldmine.
In particular, Guyana is on the trajectory of becoming a prosperous nation with the discovery and move towards becoming one of the top oil-producing nations, which opens the country up to new opportunities.
The awakening hospitality sector follows this. Investors consider expanding into Guyana by building hotels given the brimming possibilities. Tourism remains a significant area for investment and huge returns. With many untapped and yet to be discovered resources, it remains a haven for the curious-minded serial entrepreneur cum investor. “As I said, tourism before is going to be a huge thing. There’s a lot of unknown about Guyana, in the natural aspect like birdwatching, etc. So, tourism is going to be a huge part.”
Likewise, Guyana’s agricultural sector, which has remained a significant part of its economy, creates an untapped opportunity for anyone interested in manufacturing. According to Mr. Youssef, “The climate is right, the government is willing to work with you, we’ve actually set up a lot of streamlining, and it is a user-friendly environment right now for business people to go back and do that.”
Accessing the Resource
The Consulate’s website remains an excellent resource for more information on doing business in Guyana: www.guyanaconsulatenewyork.org. So is a personalized, face-to-face meeting with any interested investor, which is a call away. “Do not hesitate. Call me. I will answer you. Because when you call my office number, it comes directly to my cell phone. So, there will never be an excuse that you call me, and you don’t get an answer. Call me anytime, and I will come to your office. I will meet you wherever is convenient for you to meet,” says Mr. Youssef.
With the assurance of a speedy and personable response, investing in Guyana is worth investigating. There is no time like the moment to explore the possibilities based on promises of sound advice. “I will give you the information that is necessary that you need to have to go and invest. And no investment is too small for us. I want to make that explicitly clear. People think that you have to have lots and lots of money to go back and invest in Guyana. But it’s not that. Even the tiny investors are welcome.”