Ambassador Lynch delivers remarks at WeLead Caribbean’s 5th Annual Women’s Empowerment Conference

Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
WeLead Caribbean 5th Annual Women’s Empowerment Conference
November 27, 2021

Her Excellency Arya Ali,
Ms. Kim Roxie, CEO of Lamik Beauty,
Distinguished members of the private sector,
Distinguished members of the diplomatic corps,
Members of the media,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening! It’s wonderful to be with you at the 5th annual WeLead Caribbean women’s empowerment conference.  Where has the time gone? It seemed like just yesterday we were celebrating the third conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Center. I remember our discussions about the need for mentoring and for helping each other as women role models and leaders. And look what this year has brought. Over 200 signed up for this virtual event, and we’ve seen may organizations including the Women’s Chamber, the Black Entrepreneurs Association and the Oil and Gas Chamber established in Guyana, with women in leadership positions. Bravo!

The theme this year is especially close to my heart. “Herstory: Inspiring the Next Generation of Leaders” could not be closer to the U.S. priority for Guyana and the region. Building a future for our young people and a common vision of prosperity for all is something the United States fully supports. It’s the rich diversity that all ages bring to the table, on an equal playing field, that will make the best ideas a reality, with a healthy mix of innovation leading the way.

No matter what your background, your gender, age, ethnicity, family reputation, sexual identity, religion, political viewpoints, or disability, everyone deserves equal opportunities. One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is meeting energetic young Guyanese entrepreneurs. U.S. Embassies around the world spend time and resources highlighting the essential contributions that entrepreneurs make because we know they are the key to inclusive economic development. But they can’t succeed alone, as any successful entrepreneur will tell you.

Each successful company or chamber of commerce that wants to grow and strengthen its membership should have a strong mentoring program. Mentoring can take many forms, either a formal part of the organization, or a part of the membership protocol, with each company committed to having its own mentoring program. The American Chamber of Commerce in Guyana started a successful mentoring program last year, and the Women’s Chamber also focuses on mentoring. I know other organizations do, too. But without a method to build sustainability in the business sector, companies and chambers become clubs that have little chance for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the economy, and that will inevitably leave people behind.

If Guyana is going to avoid the resource curse around oil and gas, mentoring MUST become a part of the norm.  Inclusive development is not easily legislated, but it can be practiced, and we are proud to see many American companies contributing so meaningfully to the development of their personnel working in Guyana.  Personal and professional development is more than just an individual responsibility, it has to come from a supportive environment that motivates people to perform to their highest level. Mentoring is not just good for the mentee, it’s good for the mentor. What better way to master the material than to teach it to someone else? You build your own leadership and communication skills. Mentoring is also good for companies. Research shows that organizations that have mentoring programs have better performing employees, lower rates of absence, and a better bottom line. There is so much wisdom and knowledge in this conference; let’s share our experience and help the next generation grow!

Through the U.S. Embassy, we have programs to help entrepreneurs realize their potential. The Academy for Women Entrepreneurs is one, whose local implementer is none other than the President of today’s proceedings, Ms. Abbigale Loncke, a successful entrepreneur herself. I understand the plans for this year’s Academy are just terrific. The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative is another – both the fellowship and the online network.  And, last month we opened an American Corner, in partnership with the National Library.  We expect great things to emerge from that program, too. I encourage you to check the U.S. Embassy Facebook page to learn more about all these initiatives.

Lastly, I want to congratulate all the participants in today’s event for an important recognition of the power you have, both as an individual, but as a community, to help foster prosperity for all. It is my hope that by next year’s conference we will celebrate some dynamic and productive mentoring programs that are raising the standard of living for all sectors in society. Thank you very much, and I wish you a successful rest of the conference. Thank you.