Belize is one step closer to realizing the establishment of Small Business Development Centers across the country! The Organization of American States (OAS) has advised that Belize will be part of the five-country pilot project, funded by the United States government through the United States Mission to the OAS, to expand the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) model to the CARICOM region. This selection was based on the assessment submitted by Belize identifying its institutional framework for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), and how the SBDC model could be adapted to suit its own unique realities.

Since last year, the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (Beltraide) has done significant ground work in researching the success of the SBDC model in the US, Mexico and Central America and more importantly, its applicability to Belize. MSMEs represent a significant share of economic activity in Belize, a key instrument in poverty alleviation, and are considered a principal employer of the labour force. Given the importance of this sector, BELTRAIDE has given priority to its growth and development and has adopted a holistic approach that will facilitate targeted interventions to address the challenges faced. The work ahead requires partnerships with key stakeholders and BELTRAIDE has been reaching out to private sector, public sector and academia.

Beltraide is partnering with the Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to ensure that MSMEs are adequately prepared to access financing and manage their business in a sustainable manner. DFC, since the restart of lending in June 2009, has provided a total of $4.27 million for financing projects in the micro business sector to almost 500 small enterprises. Micro loans are clasified by DFC as loans not exceeding $40,000. There has been high demand in the services sectors for garages, internet cafes, distribution of goods, retail services, transportation (taxis), small restaurants and food stalls (DFC, MSE report, Oct, 2011).The support of the Small Business Development Center will improve the chances of loan approvals to the MSMEs, and will offer the necessary business support to facilitate their competitiveness, export readiness; thereby assisting them to develop their competences and significantly increase their chances of accessing both domestic and international funding.

A one-day consultation will be held, at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza, on Friday, March 2nd, 2012 to initiate the process towards “Adapting the SBDC Model.” This consultation will be organized with the objective of presenting the model and obtaining stakeholder’s feedback on the feasibility of successfully implementing it within the context of Belize and determining their interest in being part of the process.

For more information, please contact:

Belize Trade and Investment Service (BELTRAIDE)

14 Orchid Garden St., City of Belmopan, Cayo District, Belize

Tel: 501-822-3607

Fax: 501-822-0595

Email: beltraide@belizeinvest.org.bz

nilda@belizeinvest.org.bz

Web Address: www.belizeinvest.org.bz

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