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Feb 17, 2017

Closing the CARILED Program in Belize

The Caribbean Local Economic Development (CARILED) project closed off its first phase after almost five years in Belize. The project uses Local Economic Development as a participatory process to bring communities and other groups to form partnerships with the leadership of local government. By bringing together these bodies local economic activities are stimulated, leading to job creation, business development and a better quality of life. All of this was funded through the Canadian Government and on Thursday they held a programme to share the successes and lessons learnt during the life of the project.  News Five’s Andrea Polanco shares how this project benefitted municipalities like Belize City and San Ignacio:

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

For four and a half years the Caribbean Local Economic Development (CARILED) project partnered with Belize to implement a number of projects to drive economic activities targeting small, micro and medium enterprises with a direct benefit to Belizean households.  Over hundreds of thousands of dollar were invested in Belize City, Belmopan, San Pedro and San Ignacio & Santa Elena through infrastructural projects and technical expertise.

 

Leidi Urbina

Leidi Urbina, National Country Coordinator, CARILED Belize

“We work directly with local governments; municipal authorities in building their capacity to promote economic development in towns and cities across Belize.  So, what does this mean? First, it has meant that we have worked with them for them to recognize the importance or the role they play in stimulating economic activity in the sense of being facilitators and enablers; creating a space where businesses can thrive – they can grow or they can start. So, the strategic plan not only reflects the vision of the municipal government, but also reflects the vision of the residents and the different stakeholder groups that were consulted. It brings together the energy of the people to promote economic development in these areas. So, from these strategies we identified demonstration projects which CARILED supported financially, but also withtechnical expertise, so in total, across four municipalities, CARILED has invested about eight hundred thousand dollars Belize in different projects.”

 

Some of those projects include enhancement from stalls, to markets to parks.  Different projects in San Ignacio and Santa Elena contributed to skill development for women and even a loan programme for small businesses – and central to these CARILED projects were partnership and sustainability. Mayor Earl Trapp says these projects have changed the lives of the beneficiaries of these projects in his towns.

 

Earl Trapp

Earl Trapp, Mayor, San Ignacio & Santa Elena

“They have helped the crotchet group right on the periphery of san Ignacio as well. That help has gone a long way because these women have been able to go on their own as private businesses and some of them are producing arts, crafts and souvenirs that tourists can come and purchase. That was very much needed – stimulating the local economy. As well, I can tell you another big project that we launched in October of last year was the fireball loan programme and this came about with financing from the council and CARILED and of course St Martin’s Credit Union because at the end of the day they do the final vetting for the loans and these are to help entrepreneurs. This project gives up to a maximum of five thousand Belize dollars loan – it is a soft loan just as startup capital for their businesses.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“So, you have had little or small businesses started because of this?”

 

Earl Trapp

“Yes. And I am very happy about this because many of these businesses that have started – they were like people who used to come to the council for assistance and now these people have gone independent – and gone as far as creating more jobs for the people in San Ignacio and Santa Elena.”

 

Another municipality with big success through the CARILED project is Belize City. CARILED contributed to the economic aspect of the B.T.L. Park – where small businesses have been established and jobs created – all of which have spawned additional social and economic benefits directly and indirectly.

 

Darrell Bradley

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“CARILED because it is geared towards local economic developmentcame in with the fundingsupport to build the booths, training for the vendors etc. and we have been working very well over the last three years. There are twenty-eight businesses that are out there and there is a total of about one hundred and fifty-six people who are employed in the park; you have some of the businesses who employ as many as eight people most of which are family owned and so I really laud the success of that because you are speaking about economic development which transfer into social opportunities for people; social mobility. That is twenty-eight businesses, which is twenty-eight families are impacted. They contributed very significantly to the economic potential and growth of Belize City, likewise. We actually did a study to look at the amount of supplies they buy from the Belize City community and it is a significant amount – so that I think on a whole it has been a huge, huge success.”

 

And to ensure that these successes are not just for the short term – each municipality has committed to the sustainability of the projects.

 

Leidi Urbina

“Each municipality what they have done is to have a person on staff that is dedicated to local economic development; so each of the municipalities that we work with have a L.E.D. officer on staff. We have two of our municipalities which have extended from one officer to having a department. The role of their department is really to implement the strategic plan; forge partners; for identify potential partners to implement some of these initiatives and really to ensure that these things get done.  Another thing is that municipal authorities have now recognized the importance of including a budget for including local economic development. As we heard today, it is more of recognizing and committing to municipality services but adding to that the mandate of creating an enabling environment for business development and economic empowerment.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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