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Dec 11, 2014

Belizean Businesses Prepare to Export to Caribbean Market

Five local companies are being given the opportunity to expand their reach to the Caribbean market through an initiative by BELTRAIDE. Included in the group is the popular Hot Mama’s Belize Limited and Caribbean Premier Products Ltd. News Five’s Isani Cayetano was at the Radisson today and has this report.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A carefully chosen group of local businesses today pitched their respective products before a panel of trade and investment experts.  The presentations are the results of several weeks of diligent preparation, attending workshops and participating in a comprehensive program focused on improving the ability of small and medium-sized enterprises to access foreign export markets.

 

Wilana Oldham, Managing Director, Hot Mama’s Belize Ltd.

Wilana Oldham

“It was very exciting to me because I’ve always struggled with putting together a business plan and I saw this as a great opportunity to learn quickly what I needed to, you know, so I can move forward with my strategy.”

 

The plan is to introduce Hot Mama’s line of packaged products to a regional market.  To do so, Wilana Oldham enrolled in a series of seminars organized by Export Belize, a unit of BELTRAIDE.  She also attended a workshop on food safety requirements for export.

 

Wilana Oldham

“Being able to listen to other businesspeople and their challenges, you know, allowed me to understand first of all that I was not the only one out there struggling with the same issues but it also brought new ideas into focus.  And then, of course, having the material, going back and putting the information together, detailing it more for my particular needs, you know, was very good.”

 

It is the necessary kind of technical assistance that’s being provided through FINPYME Export Plus, an initiative through the Inter-American Investment Corporation, to support SME competitiveness in Latin America and the Caribbean.

 

Antonello Bove

Antonello Bove, Inter-American Investment Corporation

“The program with BELTRAIDE that we developed in the last year was focused to help companies to create a business plan.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“In terms of what you’ve seen today as the culmination of a series of workshops that would have effectively prepared them to put together a sound business plan, what would your feedback be, based on some of the things that you saw and heard in the presentations?”

 

Antonello Bove

“Yeah, the scope of the activity was to transfer to them specific methodology in project management, in strategic planning, to combine these two methodologies together in order to create a business plan.”

 

That future strategy, once effectively sold, should see Pure Nature’s Sour Sop Drink on the Caribbean market in the months ahead.  According to General Manager Khalil Salazar of Caribbean Premier Products Limited, the company has jumped at the opportunity to export its product.

 

Khalil Salazar

Khalil Salazar, General Manager, Caribbean Premier Products Ltd.

“We thought this would have been an excellent way to sharpen our pencils on the marketing aspect of this product and so that’s where we went along with BELTRAIDE.  We developed a marketing plan to enter into CARIFORUM or CARICOM for the Pure Nature products. We want to enter the Jamaican market, we’d like to enter Barbados and Guyana.  Now we’ve picked Barbados and Guyana [and] some people might ask why that far?  Why are you guys going that far?  We have established contacts with them already, we have been exporting Cool Delight juices to Barbados and Guyana.  We’ve exported to them before so we have contacts already and it’s just, you know, it would only make sense to continue in those channels with this particular product.”

 

Export Belize has been integral in bringing today’s presentations to fruition.

 

Shahera McKoy

Shahera McKoy, Manager, Export Belize

“The entire process falls directly into the mandate of Export Belize.  We didn’t want the program to be just something that people were building their capacity but we wanted them to get exposure to people that could actually take the projects further and that included financial institutions.  One of our core services is to facilitate access to finances for our clients and so we thought that the export forum needed to have people that understood the requirements of, you know, financial institutions when they are looking at projects and how they evaluate it.  And so, this culminated the entire process.  So for them all the works in terms of developing the export business plan, you know, tweaking the numbers, looking at the project in more detail, they had the opportunity to present it.”

 

Hernan Riverol is among several panelists.  He provides a brief feedback on the presentations.

 

Hernan Riverol

Hernan Riverol, Senior Manager, Business Support, Scotiabank

“I think they have gained a lot of that knowledge and are now well prepared to be able to compete in the region, if not the world as a whole.  Now what happens from here, I think, is more of the execution and being able to carry out those plans that they have set up for themselves.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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