Thirty-six young Belizean entrepreneurs were recognized for their hard work during an award ceremony of the EMPRENDE Belize Fund, which was held on December 12, 2015 at ITVET Dining Room, ITVET Campus on Freetown Road, Belize City.
During the award ceremony, His Excellency Charles Liu, Ambassador of the Republic of China (Taiwan), and Hon. Tracy Taegar-Panton, Minister of State in the Ministry of Economic Development, Petroleum, Investment, Trade & Commerce, presented a check for the total sum of US$200,000 to the recipients as part of the EMPRENDE Belize Fund.
The entrepreneurs will receive grant funding of up to US$5,555 each to establish or expand their businesses and will execute their investment plans as approved by the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE) and the Regional Centre for the Promotion of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (CENPROMYPE).
The funds are being distributed through the EMPRENDE Belize Fund, under the Regional Program of Entrepreneurship and Inclusive Financing, which is being funded by the Government of China (Taiwan) and implemented in Central American territories as well as the Dominican Republic to strengthen the MSME sector in these countries. BELTRAIDE is the executing body in Belize.
The EMPRENDE Belize Fund was launched on October 5, 2016 and is being implemented over an eight-month period in Belize. Belizeans, as individuals or as teams, with a business concept or a business, which has been operating for less than three years, competed for the seed capital to start or expand their business ventures as part of the fund.
Of a total of two hundred and ninety one (291) applications, sixty-three (63) were chosen to participate in this project. During a period of three weeks, the entrepreneurs conducted market research and submitted necessary documents (Power Point Presentation, Business Model/Lean Canvas, Investment Plan, and a two-year Cash Flow Projection). This was followed by presentations of their final pitches to a panel of evaluators for final selection of grant recipients on the 7th & 8th December 2016.
Considering the important role that small and medium size enterprises play in the development of our country, in late 2013, the Government of Belize endorsed the Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Policy and Strategy and in November 2015 the National Entrepreneurship Strategy was launched. BELTRAIDE, through its Small Business Development Centre (SBDCBelize), is the coordinator of entrepreneurship and MSME development in Belize.