On Thursday, March 29, 2012, BELTRAIDE along with Consultant, Michael Seepersaud hosted a national symposium to present the draft Micro, Small, Medium Enterprise (MSME) Policy and Strategy for Belize. BELTRAIDE received technical assistance from the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) to develop a more effective MSME strategy and policy. Its fundamental objective is to develop a conducive business environment that leads to a competitive MSME sector contributing to the creation of quality employment and improve the range of goods and services available to Belizeans.
During the month of January 2012, a series of consultations were held at strategic locations in Belize to acquire information from MSMEs. The objectives of the consultation were to a) Agree on a definition of MSME, b) Identify issues and constraints to MSME development, c.) Define specific activities and programs that will address prioritized issues/constraints and d.) Plot the way forward for sustainable MSME sector. Approximately one hundred and thirty (130) participants attended the consultation workshops. Dr. Michael Seepersaud, the lead Consultant, facilitated the consultations in San Ignacio, Belize City and Orange Walk. The other consultation workshops that were held in Corozal, Punta Gorda and Dangriga were facilitated by Mr. Carlos Santos, a local consultant.
Based on information derived from the Consultations, the Consultants designed a draft MSME policy and strategy. The draft document included several findings which included that they are approximately 10,641 active businesses in Belize. Ninety-nine (99) percent of these companies employ less than 199 persons. The Ministry of Agriculture also indicates that there are 19,500 farmers in Belize. Of this amount, we found that 11,000 were small farmers. The findings of the survey carried out in the consultation were that 43% of the respondents were women, 26% were youth and 45% were Mestizo. Additionally, the respondents indicated that 61% operated from their home district and 72% of the businesses were registered. The study also identified twelve major priorities issues which affect MSMEs in Belize. These priorities include access and cost of financing, markets and marketing and the high cost of doing business in Belize. The consultant identified four policy objectives and four policy strategies which need to be implemented.
The four policy objectives are to:
- Increase flow of capital to MSMEs.
- Enhance the skills of MSMEs owners and managers
- Promote market access and competitiveness
- Codify fiscal, monetary, organization and other incentives to the sector
The four policy strategies are to:
- Develop an agency such as the Belize Agency for the Development of Enterprise
- Enact MSME Development Act
- Introduce MSMEs to the national accounts
- Reduce the bureaucracy and paperwork used to access credit
Dr. Seepersaud presented the draft document to sixty (60) participants which they showed much interest in this initiative.