Last year, the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE) organized with multiple partners the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Conceived as a one-stop shop for how to start, organize and manage a business, one year later the SBDCBelize can celebrate some modest successes. Deputy Director of BELTRAIDE Melanie Leija Gideon tells us more.
Ms. Melanie Gideon- Deputy Director
“Total access to capital has jumped to over $200,000. So that we have assisted our clients to access monies. Actively, we have around 170 clients with the center and with have to full time advisers…finally. We’ve helped about 20 businesses to register formally. We’ve had about just over 300 participants in all our training programs. This is just the SBDC. This does not include all our partnerships with the YWCA, the Belize City Council (because we work with them to work with the entrepreneurs for the Lindsberg BTL Park that’s going to be doing the training for that. We’ve worked with la Inmaculada Credit Union. So, the list of our partners have gone up great. DFC is referring more and more of their clients to us, which is good. Those are some of the metrics that we have.
Ms. Gideon says that, having worked out a few kinks with partners large and small including the Belize City Council and local banks, the initiative is doing what it intended to.
Ms. Melanie Gideon: “The initiative is…a year later, more and more entrepreneurs are people who think they are entrepreneurs, or even business people, have somewhere to go. That has always been fundamental…helping them organize the ideas; some of them have brilliant ideas, their multiples, which one are we going to talk about first. They have a business and they are struggling; they don’t know how to take off. It’s a place where they can come and find not only refuge but know how. So, if you ask me if you ask me if it’s robust as a consequence? Yeah! Am proud to say that I think today you would showcase some entrepreneurs that without the center, I am confident wouldn’t have been able to pull of what they’ve pulled off and…the glory is theirs; we just hold their hand and tell them how to do it better”.
And while there are no shortage of wild, wacky and out-there business proposals, there is also a long list of success stories. A proud Gideon gives us the highlights.
Ms. Melanie Gideon: “I can have multiple from anywhere from the Mennonite Little Belize that’s doing their ketchup and condiments to the well established person in the banking industry that decides, my heart is in making seasoning; I want to do that to the gentleman that has knocked five different doors trying to get his business off in PG and it has to do with media services and tracking inventory or database access- to an add pie that’s made out of some ingredient that o won’t even thought of making pie out of, to different types of things. So, I think different niches we have listed. So, because each of them have multiple advisers, each of them will have their babies. So, put all the babies in…beautiful babies!