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Nov 11, 2015

8 Years of UB Market Expo

A market expo showcasing the ingenuity and creativity of students from the University of Belize was held today in Belize City. A large array of products made by the students was on display and after eight years of expo, UB plans to step up a notch. There are plans underway to provide start up funds to the students. Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The Kings Room at the Ramada Belize City Princess was transformed today into a market place by the students of the Marketing and Small Business Development Department of the University of Belize. The eighth annual marketing expo is one of the highlights of the Department of Management and Social Sciences held to develop entrepreneurial skills among the students at the national university.

 

Bernard Watler

Dr. Bernard Watler, Dean, Faculty of Management & Social Sciences, UB

“They have worked tirelessly during the semester to come up with these products and to showcase that in there today. As the dean of the faculty, I am extremely proud of them. And the hope now is that we will be able to get them to take this to the next level where it is no longer for just a grade, it is no longer a one day event; but instead now, after today, this idea, this innovative product that they have come up with, can now be materialized into an actual small business.”

 

The students have been tasked with coming up with an innovative and creative product, taking into consideration the promotion, target market and competition. Today, as they made their presentations, they were judged by a set of professionals in the industry.

 

Omar Castillo

Omar Castillo, Judge, UB Marketing Expo

“They are all very creative ideas, but we are looking for their overall marketing strategies, their efforts in their booths; the uniqueness of the products, promotion strategies and so forth. We are looking at how these products can actually make an impact in Belizean society. So we’re looking at all these elements and also the feasibility and the ability to actually execute these ventures. We’ve seen some great ideas…very feasible and unique and we see some of them at different stages. So some of them might need some more work, but some are actually way ahead of the game. For example we see a group that is doing a coloring book which they are seeing to get into the education system. These are kind of ventures that we want to pay special attention to.”

 

If you want to start your morning right with a great cup of coffee, Dixon’s Brew is the place for you. A café very different from the others, it provides customers with the freshly brewed drink featuring coffee beans from Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras.

 

Steven Dixon

Steven Dixon, Dixon’s Brew

“What we have to offer you guys today is high quality coffee that we imported in. The reason for this is that we wanted to give it a different twist from the other coffees that are out there today. We are also in the future planning to work with the Belizean market and come up with the Belizean based drinks. When you have these high grade coffees from the higher mountain areas, the thing is that it gives you a more flavorful coffee that the avid coffee drinkers go for. So we imported the coffee, ground it ourselves and we prepare hot and cold coffee drinks. We also prepare some tea drinks which is the line of tea from the Santiago Castillo Group of Companies, which is the quality tea drink.”

 

But as we took a stroll around the room, we were drawn to the unique smells from one particular booth smacked in the corner of the market place. Scent Sensation Candle is one of the newer, more innovated ventures of a group of students from the small business class at the university. By one this afternoon, all the candles were sold and orders for several cases have been made. Robin Quilter spoke on the eight different scented candles.

 

Robin Quilter, Scent Sensation Candle

“They are all unique scents that you can relate to…for example, mango and oranges. As of right now, we have them at expo prices so they are flying off the shelves. We have small for three and big for five [dollars].”

 

Robin Quilter

Duane Moody

“Talk about the innovation…coming up with the idea.”

 

Robin Quilter

“There’s a lot of trial and error. As you know making the candles we used natural ingredients and that is not easy. And this is a lengthy process, but after all the hard work we have a finished product and everyone seems to love it and I personally love it as well.”

 

Duane Moody

“From what I understand you guys are sold out already. Talk to us about that.”

 

Robin Quilter

“Yes, from afternoon we are sold out. So what we are doing right now is taking orders for Christmas. We know that people love the scents and we want to be able to provide the candles for them nonetheless although we are sold out.”

 

Dr. Bernard Watler

“One of the things that is plaguing us in Belize is the inability of our young people to generate their own employment and it is very sad and you can understand the constraints especially financially why that might be the case. But at the same time, as an institution of higher learning, it is our obligation that we cultivate these young entrepreneurial minds and create that environment for them where they can always take their innovative ideas and products to the next level.”

 

The scores received are part of a final grade for the students based on the quality of their products and businesses. Duane Moody for News Five.

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