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March 2014


Statistical Institute of Belize Release its Consumer Price Index, February 2014

In addition, SIB also released its February 2014 External Trade Indicators.

We invite you read up on the External Trade Indicator by clicking below link to access the slideshares:

http://www.slideshare.net/adeleramosbz/external-trade-bulletin-february-2014

FINPYME ExportPlus Trains Belize Companies For Export


IIC holds training workshops to help SMEs in Belize to create export business plans

City of Belmopan, Belize March 26, 2014 — The Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC) held the first of its five-part series of training workshops aimed at increasing the strategic planning capacity of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Belize. The program is designed to boost SME exports by helping companies draw up business plans to enter new markets.

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According to Mr. Bove,  the training will help the companies identify their strengths and weaknesses in order to become more competitive in the international market. We are pleased to be a part of this effort.” The participants of the two and half day included Belizean companies such as Marie Sharp’s Fine Food and Product, The Orange Gallery, Traveller’s Liquor Limited, BASGroup, Hot Mama’s Belize, Quality Poultry Product , Chemical Specialties of Belize and the Bureau of Standards who participated in the first day of training tailored to meet internationalization standards the BELTRAIDE team was influential in stirring discussion whilst the knowledgeable guest speakers Ms. Julie Colinet and Mr. Antonello Bove respectively carried out their presentation.

The first sessions focused on business planning and project management methodology, helping participating companies create an export strategy with a view to accessing new markets. In Belize, the Trade and Investment Promotion Agency BELTRAIDE, Scotiabank, and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Belize provided support in the implementation of the program.

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Selected companies will improve their planning processes in training modules following later this year, helping them identify strategic goals and new business opportunities abroad. The workshops are part of the IIC’s FINPYME ExportPlus program, which provides training and technical support to SMEs in Latin America and the Caribbean, improving their export profile and increasing their competitiveness. Implemented in seventeen countries across the region, the program has trained almost 2,500 SMEs to date.

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FINPYME ExportPlus complements Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) activities in support of the Aid-for-Trade initiative of the World Trade Organization. The program is supported by a trust fund established by the Wallonia-Belgium initiative.

About the IIC

The IIC, a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group, promotes private-sector development in Latin America and the Caribbean with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). We help companies streamline management processes and provide them with financing in the form of equity investments, loans, and guarantees, as well as innovative technical assistance, advisory services, and knowledge products. In 2012, the IIC approved more than 70 operations totaling some US$400 million. Since its inception in 1989, the IIC has approved approximately 800 direct loans to SMEs and financial intermediaries, for a total of US$4.8 billion. An additional US$2.8 billion has been mobilized through cofinancing and syndication agreements. For more information on IIC activities, visit www.iic.org.

Contact: Jorge Roldán

Telephone: +1 (202) 623-3948

Email: jorgero@iadb.org

Further information can be obtained by reaching BELTRAIDE at 822-3737 or via email beltraide@belizeinvest.org.bz


Da Dun Fine Art

19th Da Dun Exhibition

Caribbean Women in Business: A Trend or Paradigm Shift?


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Across the globe and through the ages, women have experienced the disadvantages of existing in a patriarchal framework, which has designated them to a homemaker role, and continues to define the sex as a whole. Women in business are breaking that mould across the world and writing new stories for themselves, and in the Caribbean, the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) is assisting them through a variety of programme-based interventions. In commemoration of International Women’s Day 2014, Caribbean Export wishes to highlight and applaud the tremendous progress of Caribbean women in the business arena. We believe that, in keeping with this year’s theme of “Inspiring Change”, that these women are not only inspiring, but also effecting change in meaningful and lasting ways.

In the professional world women often face many obstacles to advancement in the work place and in entrepreneurship, often referred to as the infamous glass ceiling. Many of these constraints are actually social constructs  “…the propensity of women to start a business may differ from that of men for cultural reasons” states Maria Minniti, a researcher for the UN. Socially the expectation is still for women to have children and to raise them at some point in their careers, whereas the expectation for men is to be successful and to provide for his family.

In a recent study by the World Bank, “female entrepreneurs are more likely to operate in the informal sector or in traditional female sectors. This limitation is likely due to “…a number of reasons… a lack of business connections and networks, few entrepreneurial female role models. Accessing finance is also a challenge, with women often lacking the required collateral to obtain successful financing above the microfinance level from banks”.

These World Bank findings presents a global phenomenon, but the Caribbean has arguably always been a region where, females rarely face disproportionate opportunities or even oppression and discrimination, as is often the case in other parts of the developing world. In fact, across the region women have taken full advantage of the educational avenues that have been made available to them and many have succeeded in rising to positions of influence. However, the proverbial glass ceiling and other social limitations still remain a reality for many of those who wish to venture into the business sector.

Despite these challenges the number of women involved in the business sector has dramatically increased globally.  It is thought that due to the current global economic climate, which has left scores of men and women unemployed, there has arisen a greater impetus for women to enter into entrepreneurial roles in order to survive. According to studies conducted by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, particularly in lesser-developed countries “when it comes to entrepreneurship, males tend to cite ‘opportunity’ as their main motivator, while women more often start or maintain businesses out of ‘necessity’”.  The study cited that there are 187 million registered women-owned and operated businesses worldwide and in some countries; nearly half of all adult women are business-owners. In, for example in Ghana female entrepreneurs actually outnumber their male counterparts.

Caribbean Export has witnessed this rise through the number of female participants across several of its programme-based activities delivered under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF), and is particularly interested in the development of the regional private sector, from the perspective of the women involved in, and driving this area.  Women have not only become progressively more involved in such activities, but account for a significant fraction of overall participation.  To illustrate, seven hundred and seventy-six (776) females were involved in Agency initiatives in 2012, however this increased by 5% to eight hundred and seventeen (817) in 2013.

Fig 1_ Female vs Male

Regional female entrepreneurs are increasingly capitalizing on the opportunities, including training, technical assistance, and support in export promotion (Figure 2), which have been put in place to help them develop their businesses and products for the global market. In fact, between 2012 and 2013, one thousand six hundred and fifty-nine (1659) women participated in Caribbean Export interventions compared to one thousand three hundred and sixty-six (1366) men.

 

Fig 2_Participation in Programmes

 

This demonstrates that not only are women serious about business, but they are also serious about the growth and competitiveness of the Caribbean private sector. Their participation is an effort to grow their small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) into globally competitive brands, and is also indicative of the region’s growth in particular sectors.

There is a new generation of women who have ventured outside of the often thought of as “safe” or “female” designated businesses such as salons and boutiques, into professions that are pushing the envelope and changing the landscape of the Caribbean, thereby contributing to the global economy. These women are involved in a wide range of sectors from agro-processing to specialized tourism. Collectively and individually, these women encapsulate the qualities of creativity, intelligence, tenacity, dynamism and the courage that it takes to enter and survive in the business world, particularly a world that is ordinarily dominated by men.

“Caribbean women, have something very unique to contribute to the regional and global markets,” Pamela Coke-Hamilton, the Executive Director of Caribbean Export remarked, “They have been afforded quality educational opportunities which, coupled with the well-rounded perspective that comes from living in a regional village, have made them naturally inclined to think outside of conventional parameters.” Mrs. Coke-Hamilton added that, “At Caribbean Export, we have seen remarkable advancement in the status of women within the private sector which makes me proud as a woman. Women are not just running businesses: they are pioneering ecologically-conscious, sustainable industries in a host of sectors that are constantly looking forward; constantly innovating. The Caribbean businesswoman is no longer trying to survive, she is trying to fashion a stronger future for the region.”

But with all that is being said, does this represent a paradigm shift in the professional focus of females in the region? Some argue that women have not transitioned away from traditional service sectors such as cosmetology, especially given the recent rise in these types of micro-businesses,, particularly in islands such as Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad as a result of the “naturalista” movement. This occurrence evolved out of an interest in wearing ones hair in its unaltered state and in using cosmetic products that are branded as “all-natural” or contain ingredients, which are derived from natural sources.

However, Caribbean Export has seen an increased involvement of women in increasingly expanding industries, such as specialized tourism and renewable energy. Like the cosmetology industry, specialized tourism responds to the demands of consumers with very specific interests. Women have been chiefly involved in responding to these demands in innovative and competitive ways. Another burgeoning sector is renewable energy, which has become a priority in many Caribbean territories, following initiatives taken by developed nations. As a result, the sector attracts a great deal of investment and support from foreign and regional entities alike, and has been pegged as a major growth industry by organizations such as the European Union (EU), Inter-American Development Bank, (IADB) and the Organisation of American States (OAS).

In 2013, Caribbean Export’s, awarded funding to fifty-four (54) women through the Direct Assistance Grant Scheme (DAGS), facilitated under the EU-funded 10th EDF. These beneficiaries represented a range of sectors (Figure 3), however, most notable were the recipients from the agro-processing and manufacturing sectors, which accounted collectively for 51% of the female beneficiaries. This substantial fraction alludes to a much greater female involvement in these traditionally male-dominated areas than might have previously been perceived. These women are not only driving this industry into a new age with pioneering products and methodologies, but, they are also harvesting the resources to position themselves as viable global competitors, with support from Caribbean Export.

Fig 3_Females Awarded Grants

Of these fifty-four awardees, three of the female-owned firms actively take an eco-friendly approach to their businesses. Their stories have been captured and produced into a short documentary entitled The Green Initiative. These women, Barbara Walker and Shireen Aga of Jamaica, Ruth Spencer of Antigua and Barbuda, and Joanna Edgehill of Barbados can be considered trailblazers in regional renewable energy agenda.

Walker and Aga’s Hotel Mockingbird Hill is run on solar energy harnessed by solar panels. These panels were replaced with the funds received in the Grant Scheme. Their establishment is one of the only hotels in the region, which, according to Aga “operates on a completely holistic principle” and has been recognised as such. Ruth’s Place, owned by Spencer also operates exclusively on solar power. As a result of their efforts, these women have established the model for an economically viable and sustainable ecological business system. Undoubtedly, with these initiatives, the regional tourism industry has undergone a rebirth.

Edgehill of MegaPower has jump-started the use of solar-powered electric cars in her home Island, and refers to herself as an “ambassador for the Nissan Leaf and for electric cars”. Her business is the sole dealership of the Nissan Leaf, the first electric motor, and lithium-ion battery-powered car on the island. This is certainly considered a catalyst in the regional automotive industry.

These illustrations validate that this generation of Caribbean businesswomen have demonstrated a dedication to the growth and development of not only their enterprises, but also the sector as a whole. The female entrepreneurs of the region are an essential component of the future of the private sector, a future that is symbolized by growth, innovation and competitiveness. Caribbean Export anticipates that women will continue to be at the forefront of emerging sectors, regionally and globally, and capitalize on the opportunities for capacity-building interventions, which the Agency provides. Caribbean Export is optimistic that there will be an exponential increase in the number of female participating in initiatives as the Agency endeavors to create more effective and tangible support mechanisms for the advancement of the regional private sector.

Continue reading “Caribbean Women in Business: A Trend or Paradigm Shift?”


Second Call to make your business grow!

Crowdfunding: a valuable financing opportunity for service enterprises


Crowdfunding: a valuable financing opportunity for service enterprises

Linda Schmid, Trade in Services International[i]

 

Q1: How can small enterprises, from least developed, developing, and transition economies, access crowdfunding?

A1: Service enterprises can use the online clearinghouse Crowdsunite[1] to find crowdfunding sites that serve a particular country, interest, and financing preference such as debt, equity, or donation. For example, Crowdsunite identified Indiegogo[2] as the number one site for Belize.   Indiegogo provides services in 193 countries in 26 currencies. Musicians are using the platform to finance recordings and tours. For technologically astute enterprises, the WPMU DEV Fundraising[3] plug-in can expand the fundraising functionality of an entrepreneur’s website.  With adequate bandwidth, service providers can reach financial supporters.

Q2: What are the challenges of creating a successful crowdfunding campaign?

A2: There is a learning curve in establishing a successful campaign. Each crowdfunding website has a unique approach and requirements for starting a campaign. However, most have training videos to explain how to use their website. From an empirical standpoint, recent analysis[4] of crowdfunding data indicates that donors prefer minimal funding requests, female borrowers, and short-term projects.  A survey of crowdfunding campaigns, suggests that a concise narrative, exceptional photos, and high quality videos contribute to a successful campaign for supporters.  Service entrepreneurs should plan to invest time in developing a concise and visually attractive campaign that appeals to potential donors.

Q3: Has crowdfunding replaced traditional micro-finance institutions?

A3: Not at all, in fact some crowdfunding sites work through local micro-finance institutions to reach clients. Service entrepreneurs can use the Micro-Finance Information Exchange (MIX) Market website[5] to identify micro-finance institutions in their home country. As an example, the MIX Market website identifies 3 micro-finance institutions operating in Belize including the Belize Rural Finance Program,[6] La Immaculada Credit Union Limited,[7] and the Development Finance Corporation (DFC).[8]  The DFC extends loans to the services sector including creative industries according to its website.  Service entrepreneurs can tap into online crowdfunding opportunities as well as traditional sources of micro-finance to raise capital.


[4] Source: Raj M. Desai, Homi Kharas, The Wisdom of Crowd-Funders: What Motivates Cross-Border Private Development Aid?, Global Economy & Development Brookings Institution, Working Paper 64, December 2013.


[i] Linda Schmid is an Independent Trade and Development Consultant (Email: lschmiddc@gmail.com, Skype: ls_trade1).  She previously served as the World Trade Organization (WTO) Component Leader of the USAID Investment Climate Improvement Project in the West Bank.  She acted as the Trade in Services Officer, International Trade Centre in Geneva.  She is a contributing author to International Trade in Services: New Trends and Opportunities for Developing Countries, World Bank 2010 as well as Managing the Challenges of WTO Participation, Cambridge University Press 2005.

Placencia Small Business Development


SBDCBelize and Compete Caribbean

In light of upcoming investment developments to the south of Belize, a one week capacity building workshop, executed by SBDCBelize Beltraide with approved funds from Compete Caribbean, took place in the Placencia Village in collaboration with the Placencia Village Council. This workshop was geared towards targeting new and existing entrepreneurs in order to enhance their business skills, professional services and standards.

Twenty participants, who comprised of entrepreneurs and business-people from Placencia and the surrounding area, spent one week learning various business centered topics. These participants came from various backgrounds and professions. They included: These topics included: Entrepreneurial Development; Basic Business Plan Development; Costing and Pricing; Record Keeping; Developing Customer Service; Logistics; and Marketing and Sales. They were all challenged to be creative, innovative, original, self-confident, and responsible throughout the entire program. Keeping those main points in mind allowed them to constantly think of ways to create value and build new business ideas, or seek ways to improve and enhance their existing businesses.

Everyone participating fully engaged with the trainers, brought creative ideas and comments to the workshop, and made wonderful contributions towards the development of their existing and potential business ideas. At the end of the week, their creativity and willingness to grow as entrepreneurs allowed them to remain on course and graduate. All participants stated that it was a wonderful experience meeting different people within the community and surrounding areas, and being able to share and interact during the one week period.

 

CCIC Grant Funding Opportunity


 

 

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Making Small Business Happen


The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) is working along with the Small Business Development Centre (SBDCBelize), a unit of BELTRAIDE, to create economic opportunities, promote social progress, and strengthen communities and civil society.

The program has three main objectives:
• Develop employability and entrepreneurial skills among youths by completing a 12-week training program on small business development as well as through work readiness and life skills methodologies
• Create opportunities for self-employment through modest seed funding in the form of matching grants for entrepreneurship initiatives
• Increase youth employability through hiring events and other services to match trained youth with employers in sector such as business outsourcing processes and tourism and hospitality

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