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Nov 25, 2022

EntreCon is Back After COVID Break  

This morning at the Belize City Center, entrepreneurs from across the country gathered for the grand return of EntreCon, a business showcase organized by BELTRAIDE. The event had been placed on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, there were pop-up shops outside of the venue and presentations on growing and strengthening small business inside the Civic.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

BELTRAIDE’s Entrepreneurship Convention is back, following a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  EntreCon, as it is otherwise known, focuses on businesses, primarily those that fall within the category of micro, small and medium enterprises.  Eider Romero is the proprietor of ER’s Icy Treats in Orange Walk Town.  During the pandemic, he decided to venture into something different and that gamble is paying off.


Eider Romero

Eider Romero, Owner, ER’s Icy Treats/Vino Romero

“It all started in 2019 to bring in 2020, I decided to make a five gallon of wine, blackberry wine.  Ah neva wahn buy liquor, right, so I said I’ll make my own wine.  And then from there, everyone enjoyed it, everyone liked it and encouraged me, hey, it’s a next business opportunity, do wine because I made a really nice wine and from there I said, okay, will try it next year.  So early 2020, little did we know that the pandemic would come upon us and while at home, locked down, we didn’t have much to do so I said we’ll do wine.  We have enough time to make wine.


Beyond the exhibition of small businesses outside of the Belize Civic Center, is a meeting of commercial minds.  EntreCon 2022 is being held under the theme “Empowering MSMEs in the Disruptive Era.”  Dr. Leroy Almendarez is the executive director of BELTRAIDE.


Leroy Almendarez

Dr. Leroy Almendarez, Executive Director, BELTRAIDE

“We have an expo outside where businesses are out there.  Find out what they are offering good products and services and they are actually available for purchase and they are meeting those standards because it’s through this group, this sector called MSME that this economy will continue on its rebound.  Even though we recently had the challenges of Lisa, but look how quickly when we worked as a community, with those efforts, how much was accomplished in a short period of time.”


What is equally interesting is the imaginative ability of business owners across the country.  In Camalote, Shalwa Leslie has started Farm to Perfection, a small business that specializes in products that are made the beehive.


Shalwa Leslie

Shalwa Leslie, Owner, Farm to Perfection

“We create products by using byproducts from the beehive.  So yes, we sell honey, but we make lip balm, we make painkillers, wax polish, and crayons which is our latest product. Because it’s the first time I made it, it took me all day, but that’s always the first time for every product that I make.  But crayons because crayons are made from wax and wax we get from the beehive and our promise to the customers is that we make products by using the byproducts from the beehive because we are creating a new economy in Belize and we want to show women, we want to show beekeepers and we want to show the country on a whole that we can produce.  There are some things that are underused in Belize and the beehive is one of those things.”


Inside the City Center, there was an ongoing conversation on the modernization of business in Belize.  That dialogue was led by BELTRAIDE and other public and private sector stakeholders.


Dr. Leroy Almendarez

“We’re talking about not only digitization, you’d hear things like block chain.  But what is the government doing?  In terms of the enabling environment, the government is putting in legislation, looking at procedures, looking at policy changes that will make things much easier.  We just had the launch of an MSME policy and strategy and that came out of challenges that we found when we did a socioeconomic impact assessment and a lot of the things that we heard: access to finance, that women were the ones that were more disadvantaged when it came to banking and things like that.  And so, this entrepreneurship convention, because basically what it does is bring individuals with certain, not only best practices, but specialties that they can share.”


Isani Cayetano 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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