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Prisoners Graduate from Entrepreneurial Program

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Beltraide’s Belize Training & Employment Center (BTEC) and the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) has been leading initiatives to help develop and grow businesses. While the services are usually offered at the BTEC offices, this time BTEC took its trainers to the Belize Central Prison. After several weeks of training, a graduation ceremony was held for inmates who participated in Beltraide’s business program. Love News attended the ceremony and spoke to some of the graduates.  

Jose Sanchez: “There was a graduation ceremony today behind the Belize Central Prison wall. It was funded by Beltraide, BTEC, and SPDC. It is the third training of its kind in conjunction with the Kolbe Foundation.”

Christine Smith – Manager Belize Training and Employment Center: “It expands a six-week time frame, meeting twice a week for three hours. The purpose of the program was to introduce business skills as well as some soft skills to the inmates so that upon their reentry into society they are equipped with tools that will make them more employable, whether that be to be employed for someone or start their own business. The training lasted for six weeks, they got skills on a positive attitude, communication, developing your business, moving from idea to reality, mapping out your business in terms of identifying what is the business model that you are going to be using? Identifying what are the tenants of a business in terms of what will be your revenue stream? How do you market your business? How do you determine your sales? How do you price your products?”

Jose Sanchez: “For six weeks inmates who participated in the program learned various skills including the melodious Macory Neal who credits his family as his main support.”

Macory Neal – Graduate: “I am a giver to the SPDC, turn my ideas into reality, now my future is full of possibilities, maybe I have a bright future for my prodigy. From day one my whole overview was just okay learning how to hold a job, learning how to be employable, stuff like that but on day three and day four we reached to the point where we did a business model. In doing that business model she gave us like homework to do. I had to pretty much think of a business that I would like to go into and that was a paintball auditorium so Ms. Monique and they already told me that when I come out to come and see them, that they have the whole stuff down and we can do what we can do.”

Jose Sanchez: “How significant is family support for you in regards to the program and when you come out?”

Macory Neal – Graduate: “It is very significant because being in the situation that I am in, if my family wasn’t there I probably would have been going back to the same situation again. That would make this a revolving door for me so having my dad on my side, my sister, my mom in Virginia being on my side and supporting me, it gives me the strength to maneuver it for a change and for the difference.”

Jose Sanchez: “Ismael Burgos spent that past eight years behind bars, not only did he participate in the program, he passed the Primary School Examination.”

Ismael Burgos – Graduate: “You have to open your mind to be more knowledgeable because in Belize we only know about buy and sell, we don’t know about marketing, leveling and none of that stuff especially when it comes to your tech inventory, then onto the majority of the parts that they taught us is to be an entrepreneur, be your own boss then and that is the good part of BTEC and BELTRAIDE.”

Jose Sanchez: “You also took the PSE, can you tell me about that?”

Ismael Burgos – Graduate: “Yes, thanks to Mr. Norman Willacy, Pastor Usher who are my mentors and thanks to Mr. Moore who gave me the opportunity to do PSE.  I scored 80.5 that came up to 322 pts.”

Jose Sanchez: “Norma Pena the only woman that participated in the program was proud of the accomplishment.”

Norma Pena – Graduate: “I liked the training, it was a nice program that they gave us. We picked up a lot about what they taught us, we just wish that we could have some more programs like that.”

Jose Sanchez: “I notice your family is here as well, is this an extra joy to see them? To have them here with you?”

Norma Pena – Graduate: “Yes, I am so happy that I have goosebumps because I haven’t seen them for a little while but they made it today for me.”

Bruce Harvey – Graduate: “I am to go home at any minute because I am remanded and hopefully I get my bail and I go home. The training gave me a foresight of my business in what I want to do. I want to deal with carpentry, but not only build cabinets. I want to deal with home interiors, tiles, ceilings, even if they want their fence to be done you can call on us. The name of my business is the Harvey Brothers Construction Ltd. because it is my three brothers and I that are in this, it is not the only me one. With the training, it gave me a foresight  and made me see how to run a business.”

C.E.O. Virgilio Murillo – Kolbe Foundation: “When they return to society there is always that stigma that oh because they have been in prison, they need a second chance. When BTEC, the Ministry of Trade offers these types of programs for them, this is big stuff for the prison because it assists us in the rehabilitation process. “

Jose Sanchez: “ Time can be used as a punishment but in the case of these graduates, time is well spent. Jose Sanchez for Love News.”

 

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