–through WIIN programme, Minister Persaud says expansion in the pipeline
GIVE a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Synonymous with this common saying is the result of the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security’s Women’s Innovation and Investment Network (WIIN), which has changed the lives of over 3,000 women, who are now equipped with a skill which could help them earn a daily income.
Offering training and opportunities for networking to females 14 years and older, WIIN could be considered as a catalytic programme which has helped persons “break the glass ceiling.”
Launched in May, 2021, the WIIN programme was established as a direct response to the need for more women to enhance their capacity in order to be gainfully employed.
WIIN was birthed out of the “WE LIFT” initiative, an empowerment exercise that was held recently at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.
Though open to women across the country, the programme specifically targets women who are facing socio-economic issues.
And having enhanced the lives of over 3,000 women, in just six months, the WIIN programme has already reached its goal, according to Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, during a recent interview with the Guyana Chronicle.
“Now, it can only get bigger and better with more participants and more courses,” Dr. Persaud said.
She related that WIIN is here to stay and will become a permanent fixture in the ministry’s agenda, as it continues to find ways to tackle social issues affecting women in Guyana.
“We’ve had over 4,000 applicants so far, and, by the end of the year, we are hoping to complete training with more than 3,000 persons,” Dr. Persaud said.
She added: “Persons would have benefited from our on-site training or in-person training in the regions… we are offering online training as well. Heavy emphasis is on literacy and business proposal writing.”
Even as the first batch of participants complete their training, the ministry is looking to add more persons to the system and expand the number of courses offered under the programme.
“The WIIN programme will be a sustained programme where people apply and will benefit from free training in a variety of areas,” Dr. Persaud said.
An important component of training is certification, so the minister said they have been working with institutions like the University of Guyana and Nations University to accredit the programmes.
“I am extremely, extremely passionate about the programmes being certificate programmes, accredited programmes. So, we have worked with institutions like Nations University, and University of Guyana to name two.
“When people gain our certificates, they can look for employment, but where I would like them to go is into the entrepreneurial field where they can start their own businesses,” Minister Persaud related.
In addition to training, the possibility of providing funding for women to start a business is also being explored by the ministry.
“We have partnered with a number of other entities to look at funding for women coming out of WIIN and how they can increase their education when it comes to business literacy, so that their business can be more viable and sustainable going forward,” Dr. Persaud said.
Further, the WIIN programme is supplemented by a number of additional supportive facilities, including the revived and expanded Guyana Women’s Leadership Institute (GWLI), where a new women-centred business incubator was launched in August.
The incubator was another component conceptualised and created to give women a boost in their career paths as entrepreneurs, after they would have received training from the respective programmes provided by the ministry. Dr. Persaud said that, like WIIN, that facility is also on the cards for massive upgrading.
“Come next year no one will recognise the GWLI because it will be the hub of all of our women-centric activities, including leadership,” the minister affirmed.