A young University of Guyana graduate, is confronting the tough times facing his depressed community by exploiting an unlikely service niche in his local market. James Cuperteno is providing laundry services to households in the mining community of Linden and from all accounts the business is holding its own.

The idea of doing the laundry for Linden occurred to James during a visit to the United States; there he observed that the laundry industry was primarily service- oriented and that large numbers of people relied on the Laundromat to have their clothing done.

Three years ago, in 2006, following his retrenchment from the then Linmine, and left with no employment  opportunities he invested part of his redundancy package in  Mesino’s Laundromat, situated in Greenheart Street, Mackenzie.

The International Relations graduate conceded that he never had seriously considered self-employment as an option. It was, he says, a matter of being left with little choice.

Mr. Cuperteno has invested almost $500,000 in infrastructure, that is, physical rehabilitation of the premises and the installation of electrical fittings.

His own funds exhausted he approached the Guyana Youth Business Trust to secure a loan of one million four hundred dollars. His management skills along with the assistance of the Linden Economic Advancement Program (LEAP) incubator proved helpful in the preparation of the detailed business plan necessary to enable his lenders to determine the viability of the project. James secured the loan and used the funds to purchase the equipment necessary to operate the Laundromat. With no credit history with which to approach a commercial bank, Guyana Youth Business Trust was his only option.

Situated in front the Mackenzie Swimming Pool, Mesino’s Laundromat has more than proven its worth to households in Linden. His machine-based operation is ahead of the game, the only competition being a handful of bottom house press and starch micro businesses.

The venture is by no means without its challenges. James says that that while he has not so far been confronted with any insurmountable problems but there are concerns over the likelihood of an increase in electricity rates. He is also concerned about the quality of the water being provided to the community. He says that this, coupled with unreliable supply has forced him to resort to private water suppliers, and to filtration system. However, James remains optimistic. He says that as his client base increases he plans both further modernization and expansion.

Since the launch of the service James has already increased the number of dryers from two to five and the washers from three to six. He is also contemplating from the addition of ‘press and starch,’ dry cleaning and self-service facilities.

James says that he would wish to see more Lindeners who are University graduates seeking to create employment for themselves instead of ‘sitting back and waiting for something to happen’.


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