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Jun 21, 2016

Fireball Loan Program to Provide Funding to Entrepreneurs and Businesses in the West

Results of a study show that as it relates to west, seventy-one percent of the population is thirty-five years and younger. Of that sector, thirty-five percent is less than fifteen years in age. Unemployment stands at thirty-five percent. So what can be done to empower the youth and change the economic status in the west? Earlier today, an initiative was launched to financially assist small business owners to obtain funding to grow their business. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The economic outlook for Belize in the most recent IMF Report is dismal; the town council in charge of the Twin Towns of San Ignacio/Santa Elena is not taking it lightly. The municipality has partnered with the Caribbean Local Economic Development Project and the Saint Martin’s Credit Union in San Ignacio to create the Fireball Loan Program. As it implies, it is an initiative that will allow for entrepreneurs and small businesses to access funding to create and expand their business respectively.

 

Earl Trapp

Earl Trapp, Mayor, San Ignacio/Santa Elena Towns

“I spoke to almost all residents from Santa Elena and San Ignacio and the general sentiment was that unemployment rate was very high and as well poverty alleviation was something that we had to work towards to see how we can target some of the social issues. So in lieu of this, what we did…I personally began talking to different stakeholders in our communities because when you talk to people you get ideas—two heads are better than one. So we came up with this revolving fund program.”

 

The initiative falls in line with the main objective of CARILED, which is to work along with local authorities by empowering them into stimulating economic development in the respective municipalities. According to National Country Coordinator for the Canadian funded project, Leidy Urbina, the program would allow municipal governments to be stewards of economic development.

 

Leidy Urbina

Leidy Urbina, National Country Coordinator, CARILED Project

“As a theory, as an approach, as a process, local economic development is fueled by MSMEs, by the growth and expansion of micro, small and medium enterprises. So, one of CARILED’s initiatives last year was to connect an ease of doing business analysis. So w met with national stakeholders and we also met with local stakeholders to understand the dynamics of local economy and understand some of the barriers that small businesses have in starting and expanding their business. So, one of the major things that came out of that ease of doing business in most of our municipalities really is access to financing and the lack of financing at that.”

 

The Saint Martin’s Credit Union has been in existence in the west for sixty-seven years as part of the San Ignacio/Santa Elena Planning Team and has experience in managing these types of loan programs. This gave birth to the Fireball Loan Program, which becomes part of the many banking services it has to offer to its eight thousand members. In its piloted stage, the initiative will make available a total of sixty thousand dollars to successful applicants.

 

Ramon Tzul

Ramon Tzul, General Manager, St. Martin’s Credit Union

“The global theme for credit unions this year is, “People Helping People.” And this program actually epitomizes that theme. What it is basically is that we decided to join forces to provide a fund where young entrepreneurs will be able to access funding for whatever projects they want to do. This program allows them the possibility; if they have a concept, they have an idea, they will be able to get financing up to five thousand dollars without not much of a problem as they would by going to the other places.”

 

One entrepreneur, who is excited about the new program, is Marco Coyoc of Marie’s Fast Food and Pastries.

 

Marco Coyoc

Marco Coyoc, Proprietor, Marie’s Fast Food and Pastries

“We’ve had this business for like one year and a half and we have been finding financial problems. But this Fireball Program will be good for us because it will be able to assist us in buying more resources to increase and expand out small business. This will definitely increase my economic activities and in the future, I plan to also hire at least two more persons to work with our small business.”

 

The primary role of this program is economic empowerment. So how does an idea morph into the establishment of a business?

 

Ramon Tzul

“What we have done is we’ve embedded couple mechanisms within the program that would help them to be successful. Amongst one of them is training. We will be working along with the Small Business Development Center out of BELTRAIDE to provide the different types of training to these entrepreneurs. The other part of it is that the municipal government has also committed themselves o helping these entrepreneurs in setting up all of the legal and necessary documentations, which is one of the cumbersome tasks in opening up a business because there’s a whole pile of requirements and you don’t really know what they are. And so they will be setting up a help desk in the town council and that person will guide entrepreneurs through the process.”

 

There is also a component of the program that incentivizes borrowers. Duane Moody for News Five.

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