…empowerment high on agendaBy Lakhram BhagiratFor over 60 women with small businesses, the slogan “Girl Power” turned into action when they were afforded the opportunity to display their products and services on Saturday, as the third annual Women in Business (WIB) Expo opened at the Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown.The event is a collaborative effort between the Sonia Noel Foundation for Creative Arts (SNFCA) and the Women’s Association for Sustainable Development. The exhibition concludes today at 20:00h.WIB6- Bow Jay representatives with some of their productsIn addition to the expo, there will be a health, business and technology forum, a charting your course and ‘Inspire You’ events, an evening with Sherry Dixon, a tea party and fashion show, book signing, and a leadership conference.For the more than 60 women exhibiting their products and services, the WIB has served as a launching pad for them as they are building new bridges and collaborating with each other to further expand their reach. One of the women, Christine Profit from the Scrub Hub explained that there have already beenThe ladies of the Scrub Hubcollaborations between the women prior to the opening of the expo. The women have been preparing for the event over the past two months with intense training and development sessions hosted by local designer and the Expo’s founder, Sonia Noel.According to Noel, the expo focuses on small businesses with the aim of allowing persons to gradually increase their operations into medium, large then eventually conglomerates. She encouraged the businesswomen to be conscious of their social human responsibility.Women empowermentThe women of the Mahaica Women’s GroupThe entire idea of the two-day exhibition is to empower women to further develop themselves and not depend on a male counterpart for sustenance.Simona Peters, who owns the Country Style Coconut Biscuit, said that the expo is timely as it culminates with the International Women’s Day month of activities and it showcases the strength of a woman.The Mahaica Women’s Group was out in their numbers to showcase their decorative bottles and locally made scented candles. Representative Debbie Argyle said that the women work in collaboration with each other making candles and other crafts two days per week and that she sees as them empowering each other rather than just talking.New productsProfessional waiters Mariah Barker and Donella Long used the event to launch their brand-new business – The Balance – providing waiter services in Guyana. Long noted that they aim to provide professional waiting services for any event despite the magnitude.Meanwhile, Barker said the WIB Expo was chosen as the launching ground because of the marketing opportunities.A few years ago, Guyana’s first custom-made Bowtie business was founded by then 17-year-old Jenell Pierre and the company, Bow Jay, has been expanding its reach ever since. Like, The Balance, Bow Jay also used the WIB Expo to launch their new line of locally made lip-glosses.First time exhibitor, Autimae Le-Black said she created Delight Treats out of her kitchen after she saw the first Women in Business Expo (WIB). She explained that a few years ago, she graduated the Carnegie School of Home Economics as a certified baker and just left it as that while she took care of her family.She offers a wide variety of cakes, cookies and pastries that can be customised to suit any event.Get more involvedAt the opening ceremony, Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes urged women to stand up, speak out, and get more involved in the workings of society. She used the opportunity to urge women to take up more positions in society since they offer a different perspective on every situation. “Let your voices be heard. We must let our voices be heard. Do not leave the dialogue to a few usual suspects who want to drown out the opportunities we have been given and who don’t want to focus on and take those opportunities on how we prepare to get there. It is against that background that I ask each one of you to use your voices to speak up, speak out and be an agent of change,” she added.The idea of the expo is to coincide with the month of activities to commemorate International Women’s Day observed on March 8. This year it is observed under the theme “Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women’s Lives” with the slogan #pressforprogress.