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Aug 5, 2022

Government Launches Development Plan for Micro, Small & Medium Businesses

Micro, Small and Medium-sized businesses will be given a seat at the proverbial table in the coming months and will be allowed to engage with government on a contractual basis. This, according to a new effort by the government, is to give those categories of businesses a chance to further develop. The impetus behind this notion is that M.S.M.E.s, as they are called, make up half of the entire country’s Gross Domestic Product.  Today, News Five’s Marion Ali and Chris Mangar attended the launch of government’s National Policy and Strategy for M.S.M.E.s and a road show for these businesses to display their products or services to the rest of Belize. Here’s their report.


Marion Ali, Reporting
Starting next week and until November, the first-ever national road show for businesses that fall within the micro, small, and medium categories will kick off, extending to the far reaches of the country through every district. It is an initial attempt by the Briceño administration to propel these businesses to sturdier ground and give them a chance to further develop through what is called a National Policy and Strategy for M.S.M.E.s. At the helm of all of this is BELTRAIDE, whose chairperson, C.E.O. Narda Garcia explained what the end goal is.

Narda Garcia

Narda Garcia, Chairperson, BELTRAIDE

“The National M.S.M.E. Strategy and the accompanying Road Show will ensure that key factors affecting MSME operations and competitiveness are addressed and that the adequate support is extended to them to overcome the challenges they face. The National M.S.M.E. Roadshow will run from August to November 2022, culminating with this year’s EntreCon, the National Entrepreneurship Convention, an event that creates a space for over two hundred entrepreneurs and like-minded businesspersons from across the country to dialogue, learn and share innovative ideas.”


Prime Minister John Briceño shared his personal story decades ago, when there was no system in place to help M.S.M.E.s, when he and his brother had to use their mother’s home as their collateral. For them at that time, he said, if the business failed, it meant that they and their mom would have no house. But the new strategy and policy provides a sense of hope for businesses that have nothing and nowhere to start, he explained today.


John Briceño

Prime Minister John Briceño

“Our measurements will be by seeing how many more businesses we can create, how many more jobs are being created, how we can reduce poverty.”


Marion Ali

“How do you open it up to everybody, including those who maybe in the past had bad credit but they want to press the reset button; those persons who might, at first glance, be eliminated by the lending institutions?”


Prime Minister John Briceño

“That’s a good question. They can come now within a formal structure through BELTRAIDE – to go there now and to say this is my new project and this is how I believe I will succeed. And BELTRAIDE can help them to even strengthen whatever project or product they may have in mind. And through the U.S. fifteen-million-loan that we’re getting through the I.D.B., that money will give access to people who have failed before.”


One small entrepreneur who has been successful in her business venture, Sheena Smith, shared what the challenges are leaping into private venture and making it blossom.

Sheena Smith

Sheena Smith, Small Entrepreneur

“One of my biggest takeaways from being an entrepreneur is working with other female entrepreneurs. I came into it with the idea and I think that a lot of people believe that women don’t support women, but I’m here today to say that that’s not true. Being an entrepreneur and meeting other women who are doing the same things, we are able to lean on each other, it makes you realize that you’re not alone. Being a wife, a mother, and also an entrepreneur – you’re also the producer, the designer, social media manager, marketing/sales, customer service and sometimes I also do delivery. So it’s a lot to take on and it’s good to have somebody to talk to.”


Minister of Tourism Anthony Mahler, whose ministry stands to play a big part in this venture, shared his view that the government must create an enabling environment for the private sector to thrive and the start of that effort is through this strategy and road show and all that it will offer people in these sectors.

Anthony Mahler

Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism
“In Belize today, M.S.M.E.s account for up to ninety percent of all businesses and fifty percent of our labour force. In the tourism industry, the average-sized hotel is ten rooms and most of our tour operators, restaurants, bars, gift shops and other businesses that make up the industry are considered to be M.S.M.E.’s.  Even though we’re working tirelessly to provide support for M.S.M.E.’s there are still too many of these business that they lack the fundamentals needed for growth and development. They lack access to affordable financing. Many lack technical expertise; they lack understanding of scale, understanding of making data-driven decisions and the importance of marketing and product development.”


The government has also committed to engage in business with at least twenty percent of micro, small and medium businesses by March of 2025 through tendering contracts.  Marion Ali for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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