In 1992, Rowen Willabus had his first exposure to tech through an IBM computer. “I knew since then that technology and computers would be a part of my life,” he told Loop Caribbean News as he recounted his journey into the tech world.
That early knowledge as to what he wanted to do resulted in Rowen establishing IntellectStorm, an information technology solutions company.
Rowen returned to Guyana in 2013 with the hope of implementing tech systems he would have come across while living in the US where he studied Computer Information Systems.
“I saw the gaps in my country and thought that the gaps could be quickly closed with technology. I felt like I needed to contribute towards my homeland instead of foreign.”
There were several challenges within his plan however, chief amongst them being access to finance and the tech culture locally.
“In Guyana we don’t have venture capital and seed funding, so we had to utilise our own savings to start-up. We are a completely bootstrapped company,” shared Rowen.
After they would have gained regional and international recognition as one of five winners at PitchIt Caribbean in 2016 for their project, directory.gy ,however, they were recognised locally as having the skills necessary for the completion of quality work.
The results of the pandemic causing many industries to go fully digital also significantly helped in solidifying their presence.
Asked about his teams major successes, Rowen shared that he is mostly proud of their adherence to corporate social responsibility.
“We are extremely vibrant and became one of the voices in the community on promoting and providing opportunities in tech.” They have supported projects such as the annual Hackaton, and regularly go into schools to teach about the benefits of ICT.
“We are open to working with persons who have little experience in the field, taking persons at the university or the Guyana Training Institute or persons who did not even go to schools for technology and being able to impart skills to them and grow their talents. We are also very conscious of the gaps between men and women in the field and make concerted efforts to hire female engineers,” said Rowen.
Rowen see’s a lot of potential within the technological landscape but stresses that there needs to be more institutional support for the sector, from government investing more in tech to large businesses utilising it to streamline their delivery of services.
“I think once people see that investment, it’s easier to make that transition into tech. There is a lot of interest but we need to make more programmes available throughout villages, and different communities to get people involved,” he stated.
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