Scores of entrepreneurs, business folks and government reps engage in Belize EntreCon
The 2022 instalment of Belize EntreCon got underway this morning at the Belize City Civic Centre. The event featured 500 entrepreneurs, technocrats and other professionals in business, marketing and commerce participating in the program of events. The idea is to bring all these people together to share and develop ideas and to create partnership strategies to further develop opportunities in expanding the economy. Monique Usher, the manager of BELTRAIDE’s Small Business Development Centre (SBDC Belize) explained how entrepreneurs are living this year’s theme true to life.
Monique Usher, Manager, SBDC Belize: “The sixth national entrepreneurship convention is an event that BELTRAIDE sees as a signature event that we look at creating an opportunity for the business community to be able to connect with other like-minded businesspersons. We are also looking at having different panel discussions basically looking at providing information with some of the opportunities that are available for the business community.”
Reporter: Why do you think that a convergence of these various perspectives are important and essential to events like this?
Monique Usher, Manager, SBDC Belize: “When we’re looking at our entrepreneurial ecosystem it’s important to have the different players that have an active role in the ecosystem a part of the conversation. So you’re looking at representatives from business support organization being able to share the different services that they offer to the business community. Also looking at connecting with financial institutions to be able to present some of the financial opportunities available and I’d like to make mention that for this ENTRECON this year the theme is “Empowering MSME’s in a disruptive era”. And so it’s important for us to have that conversation to look at ways of how we can strengthen the different programs and initiatives offered by the government to support the business community.”
Reporter: How do we strengthen our entrepreneurs in this disruptive era?
Monique Usher, Manager, SBDC Belize: “That’s a really good question. When it comes to strengthening entrepreneurs a key focus for BELTRAIDE recently has been a national entrepreneurship roadshow and through that roadshow we’ve been able to build the capacities of different businesspersons and also looking at providing them an opportunity to showcase their different products and services and of course make mention of some of the opportunities in terms of incentives that the government has available for businesses.”
BELTRAIDE’S Executive Director, Doctor Leroy Almendarez added that this year’s focus for Belize EntreCon includes networking entrepreneurs with business leaders for mentorship and understanding some of the often-difficult bureaucracies that exist. More than that, this year’s event is paying attention to the critical and developing blue, green and orange economies.
Leroy Almendarez, Executive Director, BELTRAIDE: “One of the first things I can say is this year it’s much bigger than the previous years. As a matter of fact and previous years we held it it was catered to about 200 individuals this year it’s about 500. Now after the two-year hiatus that we took because of COVID we wanted to do something greater because there were many challenges that especially the MSME sector face. There are some that closed doors but using the theme of this year looking at disruptive just that word because too often we see that word as a negative word no it’s a positive word. COVID caused us to pivot. Our MSME’s to pivot to even change what they were doing as a matter of fact many of them used some of the very resources that they have in order to survive because the pandemic created its own opportunities and so this year what we’re looking at we’re looking we’re talking about not only digitization you would hear things about blockchain but what is the government doing? What is in terms of the enabling environment? The government is putting in legislation, looking at procedures, looking at policy changes that will make things much easier. We just had the launch of an MSME policy and strategy and that came out of challenges that we found when we did a socioeconomic impact assessment and a lot of the things that we heard, access to finance, that women were the ones that were more disadvantaged when it comes to banking and things like that and so this entrepreneurship convention because basically what it does is bring individuals with certain not only best practices but specialties that they can share. The other thing is we are focusing on the orange, blue and the green Economies. Too often we used to say just the economy but it’s almost not only a segregation but looking at opportunities within the blue economy. There is a ministry of blue economy they have fishers and so many opportunities for what exists below the sea surface. We talk about seaweed and seaweed for example and what we like about that is that you have a number of women that are engaged. We talk about the green economy the government converted its super bond to the blue bond and a lot of that has to do with looking at and making our economy as green as possible. You hear about climate change and so those measures that we put in place allow us to take a more positive step toward the green economy and of course the orange economy when you talk about musicians and Artisans and those who don’t see themselves as a business.”
This year’s theme is “Empowering MSMEs in the Disruptive Era.”