A short concise program was presented by Mrs. Lourdes Smith, the Executive Chairman of Beltraide. In attendance was Prime Minister Said Musa, ambassadors from several countries including Mexico, heads of Belizean export businesses and members of Beltraide. Several news agencies were also filming for broadcast later. Prior to the program, visitors were able to view products produced in Belize and sold on a wide variety of venues.

Mrs. Smith opened a PowerPoint presentation by explaining that Beltraide exists to promote economic development through 3 levels: Investment Promotion, Entrepreneurial Development and marketing and Policy Recommendations. They work closely to strengthen relationships with all embassies in Belize. A plan to build a Trade Center office in Belmopan by 2012 is underway with the acquisition of 20 acres. The building will house Beltraide along with conference rooms for shows meetings and training facilities.

Explaining the Operational Functions, she highlighted the following topics: Information, Promotion, SME (Small & Medium Enterprises), One-Stop Shop and Business Facilitation. In 2007 the office provided Information to over 2,500 clients – whether walk-ins, internet, phone calls and seminars including the country tour outreach. Business Facilitation resulted in 26 businesses being matched to further promotion of business. For instance, they interviewed 41 wood industries to further their products of Belize. A 4 month Belize marketing study was done regarding non-traditional products including items from the US, UK, Mexico and Caribbean countries for match-making.

Ongoing projects include a new website being updated. The site should be completed and available by February 15th, 2008. A Made in Belize Product Catalog is available now (see catalog). This features many companies now exporting Belizean products and has the contract information on the page.

2008-09: Public Relations Campaign will build awareness of Beltraide networking, etc, through clustering, networking companies, and economic performance Benchmarking; i.e.: woodworking company for furniture paired with new resort & condo projects instead of licensing those projects to import furniture.

Beltraide’s Belize Marketing Strategy Document is awaiting final draft. It will then be presented to the Prime Minister for approval and distributed to membership ASAP.

Prime Minister Musa concluded with remarks by praising Beltraide’s accomplishments. This included making their office a One-Stop Shop to start and finish putting a new business on the market place. He highlighted that they have been instrumental in assisting with over $1.1 Billion in on-going investments with another $1.3B in the works. These investments have provided over 15,000 jobs in all sectors of business and service. Since Beltraide started, exports have gone from $5 million to $500 million. Beltraide has in the plans for an office of National Export Strategy to provide real time information to businesses. They have also established good relations with all phases of international banking for funding Belize developments

He concluded by saying “Believe in Belize”.

The meeting was followed by meet and greet with refreshments and Beltraide information available to take with us.

Respectfully submitted

Jan Brown, Chamber Director and Representative