Posted: Monday, June 29, 2020. 3:12 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: With some 20 entrepreneurs, new and established, benefiting from the first cohort of the Belize Accelerator Program (BAP), the Belize City Council has a platform from which to jumpstart the Old Capital’s economy once more, says Mayor Bernard Wagner.
With many of the 80 thousand jobs lost due to COVID-19 affecting City residents, especially in the tourism and support industries, the Council brought forward the program originally conceived by the late Hubert Pipersburgh, whose widow, Maria Estella Recinos, appeared at City Hall today on his behalf.
In addition to three days of training and certification in how to “be your own boss,” several of today’s graduates received, at Council expense, items intended to assist with their businesses – refrigerators, stoves and other items. Goods for those who did not get anything are on the way in the next week or so.
“We need to ensure that [the Program] is sustainable, we need to ensure that the individuals are able to carry out some level of training – they went through some level of training in general terms of business models, marketing their products, basic profit and loss statement: it doesn’t have to be anything technical, just a book and a pen. But we wanted to really round them off so that when we put them out there, in the position to really create their own business and move their business forward that they do not fail. We also ensured that we provided the necessary equipment to jumpstart that business…” Mayor Wagner said.
And how will it be kept going? It needs about $100,000 to be sustainable and already has funding from Insurance Corporation of Belize, the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF). The Council also got some technical assistance from the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE), but the Mayor emphasized that the development was done in the Council’s initiative.
Applicants may attend City Hall’s Local Economic Development Unit and will be divided into three tiers based on level of business experience. The Mayor expects that once funding is firmly established, cohorts will be called on a quarterly basis – four times a year.
The Mayor said, “We want to ensure that our City and our Council provide a mechanism and an enabling environment to reduce poverty.”
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