Belizean women are known for their at times stupendous ability to stretch a dollar further than it has any right to go. But sometimes that is not enough to save or start a business, leaving them dependent on their male counterparts.
As part of the “20,000 Strong” initiative of the Office of Special Envoy for Women and Children, Kim Simplis-Barrow, there was an all-day conference in Belize City on Friday seeking a call to action on financial health of women and girls.
We asked the Special Envoy to tell us whether greater access to finance or clearing of opportunities for small business development would make more of a difference; she says it’s different for each business plan and idea.
“There are different things. I think each person or each business will be affected in a different way, but I think that for the most part small companies, small entrepreneurs, are just looking for that opportunity. That opportunity meaning a small grant or a small loan to really get them into the market, or to propel them forward, or for them to start up.”
In conjunction with the event, a marketplace featuring small businesses, started and maintained by women, was opened in the Radisson Hotel’s Cahal Pech Room. While there, we spoke with creator of a line of educational materials and mobile applications for children, Tiffany Simpson, on her advice to female entrepreneurs.
“Start small and then scale up. ‘Cause a lot of times people start with their ideas, [but] not every idea is a profitable one. So you start small, and build up fast and cheap than to get into debt. It doesn’t work, and then you’re left stuck with that debt.”
Discussions continued through the course of the day, and recommendations will be collated by the Special Envoy’s Office, and forwarded to that of Prime Minister Dean Barrow.