Taiwan Fund and National Women’s Commission Empower Women Through Entrepreneurship Training
80 women completed Entrepreneurship Training in Belize. The Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) alongside the National Women’s Commission worked together to educate and certify women in the country. The training sessions were for beauty entrepreneur projects as well as wealth and wellness. Today was the closing program for the two- week training. President of the National Woman’s Commission, Thea Garcia- Ramirez mentioned the importance of empowering women in a “patriarchal” society. The president spoke about the different skills that the ladies were taught.
Thea Garcia Ramirez, President, National Women’s Commission: “Women take a lot of stress at home just with their daily activities and we wanted to incorporate a mental health component to it and how do you balance just different stresses of life and also wealth meaning how to navigate your own personal finances so there as financial literacy as well as a component that says how to manage your business, your small business. There are a lot of different agencies doing financial literacy but we wanted to break it down to be very very basic. A lot of times some of our women didn’t have the opportunity to even finish primary school or did so you know very haphazardly and maybe have an issue with feeling ashamed of accessing and asking people how to set up an account, how to go to the ATM even. I know some women that I’ve had to help at the ATM you know they have a card they don’t really understand how to use it because they don’t have those reading skills. Some people say okay you know you go to the bank you set up your online to make payments on your phone but you didn’t quite get it and you’re afraid or you feel ashamed to keep asking “Oh I didn’t get it show me again.” and you know so we do that sort of thing. We tell you hot to. There are a lot of programs o how to be able to register your little business so we know it’s $25 but you need that help, you need somebody to help you to do that sort of thing and the importance of pricing, how to price your product because you ask somebody ‘Well why you sell this Johnny Cake for fifty cents?’ because everybody is selling it for that but that’s not how you go about proper pricing. You may be underselling yourself and instead of making money actually losing at the end of the day so you need to be careful and we need to teach women how to price accordingly, how to also incorporate their work into that price because a lot of the time you say okay because the sugar, the flour, the this that that but you’re not thinking about te gas that you’re using, you’re not thinking about yes but part of your work that as a value and you’re not putting that into the pricing and so those are things that we taught and of course the skills in the beauty classes basics of nails, makeup and hair and those that we can build upon afterwards.”
In her speech the president quoted “an empowered woman is a happy woman” The training was centered on wellness and success in future endeavors. One of the students mentioned they were motivated, energized and inspired throughout the process. Merikita Melissa Castillo spoke to love news about the importance of women being independent.
Merikita Castillo, Entrepreneur: “I went into the program for Wealth and Wellness and what I want the ladies to know I am a single parent, I don’t have my children with me but I was a single parent, still a single parent and the struggles are hard. I do my own little business because everybody knows me as “Bite me” or Melissa and having to get this program with the Taiwan and the National Women’s Commission program that they brought out they do hair, nails but I chose the business because struggling as a single mother or a woman alone, a black woman in Belize City if you don’t know how to use your hands or your mind you struggle and I had a business and it would always fall. I asked myself sometimes what made my business fall, I couldn’t budget but doing this program and getting my certificate I learned to budget so whenever I start my business again trust and believe me I will not fall. I went through trials and tribulations and I am telling all women out there if you are independent, if you don’t want to be independent you will take licks. If you become independent keep it. Don’t let anybody bring you down. Right now I was struggling, now that I got my certificate I can take and I can go anywhere. I walk around and sell pastries, I rid around and sell pastries now I can show people that I’m certified to make my pastries. Mind, body and soul once you have it you could be like me and achieve it. The program is free. When they come up they will post it up that the program is free so come and do this thing. If you need help you already know you could go to the Women’s Department and they will put you into the program and you will benefit from it because I benefitted for two weeks and it was so wonderful. Monday to Friday for two weeks and trust me you will like it. They feed you too for free if you don’t have that, trust and believe me it’s nice so if I were you look out for the program when it comes up and look out to see me again.”
Merikita plans to name her business “bite it, bake food walk in and out pastries and fast food”. Representatives from the Taiwan (ICDF) emphasized that they look forward to working with the government to promote wellness and empowerment for women in both countries.