Micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) have been generally stated as vital in the creation of employment, income generation, and other outcomes. In Belize, the high number of MSMEs is indisputable; yet, little empirical exploration has not been formulated to “quantify the number, sizes, employment figures, ownership, gender distribution, geographical locations etc.” of MSMEs. It is crucial; therefore, to obtain such information to develop any policy or strategy for this sector.
The CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) is providing technical assistance to BELTRAIDE by funding a Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Policy and Strategy for Belize. The ultimate objectives of this project are to:
- Agree on a definition of MSME
- Identify issues & constraints of MSME development
- Define specific activities and programs that will address prioritized issues/constraints
- Plot the way forward for sustainable MSME sector
A survey of seven firms who attended a recent CARICOM consultation on December 8th identified significant issues. Accounting for 71% of this priority issues is access to credit, energy cost, and business support services. BELTRAIDE is coordinating a series of national MSME Consultations from January 23th to February 3rd to refine policy initiatives to match the issues facing the MSME sector. These consultations will be participative and activity oriented in order to solicit the views and opinions of the participating MSMEs.
Consultations were held in San Ignacio, Belize City, Orange Walk, Corozal, Dangriga and Punta Gorda. Participants engaged in the group activities, with a common focus to identify issues and find solutions. Each group was assigned a specific task, which incorporated, deciding the number of employees, sales (turnover), investment (assets), work space (manufacturing space) for a micro, small, and medium enterprise.
Discussions among MSMES, BELTRAIDE, and Sub-Consultant (facilitator) of the consultations resulted in a unanimous judgment that sales (turnover) is one of the most important factors when defining MSME’s, followed by investment, number of employees, and workspace, consecutively.
Increases interest was expressed in the forming of a Small Business Association.
Another group activity was for each group to identify issues being faced by the MSMEs. From the 16 issues, 8 were selected as primary, all of which were prioritized, in order of importance.
1. Labourers (Quality)
3. Cost of Materials
5. Taxes (GST)
6. Unfair Competition
8. GOB Departments
10. Technical Assistance/Capacity Building Training
12. Utility bills
From the list of prioritized issues, each group was assigned 2-3 Issues for which they had to decide on programs, activities, organization/person responsible, and timeline. Several initiatives were brought up, in which the government and business support organizations were depicted to be responsible for implementation.
- Technical Assistance/Capacity Building Training
- Taxes (GST)
- Cost of Materials
- Quality of Labourers
A National Symposium will be held on March 27th, 2012 with the purpose of presenting the draft strategy and policy to most of the participants who attended the National Consultations.