Small Business Owners Receive Financial Aid for Startups

A series of checks in various denominations were distributed this afternoon to small business owners who will use the financial assistance as venture capital and for the expansion of their businesses.  They gathered at the Radisson where Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Trade and Economic Development Mike Singh was on hand, along with a representative of the Taiwanese Embassy, to present the disbursals.  The assistance is part of a collaborative effort between Beltraide, the Center for the Promotion of Micro and Small Enterprises and the Embassy of Taiwan.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano has the following story.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The emergence of small businesses across the country, from mom-and-pop stores in rural communities to medium enterprises with a complement of employees carrying out the day-to-day operations of the concern, aids in bolstering the Belizean economy.  To get any venture off the ground successfully however, a formal business plan has to be outlined and seed capital needs to be infused into the initiative.  It’s all part of a blueprint for entrepreneurship.


Maria Villanueva, founder of Marvelleous Sauces, explains how she got into the business of condiments.


Maria Villanueva, Marvelleous Sauces

“I was a caterer and I wanted a dipping sauce for my chicken fingers, right, and so I started experimenting and playing in my kitchen with this sauce that I called Marvelleous Original Sauce and I had my family and my friends taste it and they loved the sauce after many trials of doing it, right.”


The idea to produce the sauce in commercial quantity was soon born.  Villanueva, nonetheless, would need assistance with training, in order to equip herself with knowledge, skills, and the capabilities to realize her potential as an entrepreneur.  Enter SBDCBelize.


Maria Villanueva

“I walked into SBDC office and I entered this Emprende Seed Capital program and through this program I am about to launch my sauces.”


There to lend a hand was Omar Castillo, a senior business advisor at SBDC Belize.  Through a series of workshops organized by Beltraide, the Center for the Promotion of Micro and Small Enterprises and the Embassy of Taiwan, Villanueva and several others were able to receive the necessary guidance to develop and see their ideas take shape.


Omar Castillo, Senior Business Advisor, SBDC Belize

“SBDC Belize, on a whole, plays a role in assisting entrepreneurs and micro, small and medium enterprises in Belize.  So this program that we had, it falls right into what we do.  So what we had was entrepreneurs applying some three months ago for the possibility to receive seed capital to either push start their business or expand in some way.”


Karryn Dawson, one of a handful of recipients to have been awarded seed capital today, explains how she got involved with the program.


Karryn Dawson, Shap Da Belize

“I was involved in a workshop a year and change ago and I actually met some of the consultants there and they actually took that opportunity to share with us what SBDC is all about, what they offer.  From that point I then visited the office, upon visiting the office we learnt about the seed capital opportunity and so once you visit the office, you provide them with your contact information, they will notify you when opportunities like these become available.  It’s now on you as an entrepreneur to take advantage of these opportunities and enroll yourself in these programs.”


This afternoon at the Radisson, checks underwritten by Emprende were being issued to proprietors of various small businesses.  On hand for the presentation was CEO in the Ministry of Trade and Economic Development Mike Singh.


Mike Singh, CEO, Ministry of Trade and Economic Development

“There were two denominations of checks.  There were fourteen thousand dollars for some and there were seven thousand dollars for some, depending on the size of the enterprise.  So today was a little bit different, today we actually were able to reward excellence and these are people that I know will grow, that we know are going to become tomorrow’s bigger business.”


Among them is Michael Buylding.  His is operation inCrookedTreeVillagedeals with the preparation of cashew nuts.


Michael Buylding, M&F Cashew Nuts

“Cashew has a lot of potential.  At the moment, M&F has two prototypes that are marketable and we are going to develop and experiment on three more prototypes.  The possibilities, to use the word, are endless with cashew nuts.  What we plan to do is improve our processing facilities, you know, so that we can process all year round.  One of the other important things that we plan to do is to make a long term plan, start a long term plan with the seed capital so that we can plant enough cashew trees so that we can supply not only Belize all year round with cashew products, but we want to supply the Caribbean market and after that the world.”


Isani Cayetano reporting for News Five.