I think your question is one of home and village environment.
I have four daughters with families. Three of them are divorced with kids and each has to earn a living in the village of Caye Caulker. They get emotional support and sometimes material support to get along, but there are no jobs in Belize usually. None of the girls has a job, per se. Nor would they accept a job I think, if one was offered, as the pay scales in Belize are too low for the hours required to work. But they are all earning a living entrepreneurial and they have gone through a wide gamut of small one person businesses. Usually, like Emory King's book shows, in Belize you have to have many pies in the oven at the same time, to take care of off-seasons, dead seasons and dry and rush spells. You do have to learn how to live on a fixed budget, so that you put aside money when money is made for those seasons when no money flow is coming in. This is an observed learning practice. A Belizean usually will try any enterprise if they see money is too be made. But the real money if there is such a thing in Belize, is to be made by introducing some new venture. One time I came back from the USA and wondered about all those little packages being sold in K MART. So I went to Augusto Quan's hardware and bought a hundred fish hooks, a roll of line, some lead weights and a box of Ideal plastic bags. I subsequently copied K mart and tied a fish hook to the line with a weight, stuck it in a plastic bag, stapled on a homemade label and sold them by the dozen to the local grocery store for $1.50 each and they re-sold them for $3 each. It worked as a small sideline. I made a few hundred dollars off them. There were no fishhooks, fish lines, or weights for sale in the village and so the tourists complained about the price, but bought them anyway.
My daughters more or less, do the same sort of thing today. Trying to dream up something to feed the tourist industry. Or something, or somebody. You have to sell a service. And provide it. There is always a demand for something, you just have to find it. There are no jobs, so what are you going to do? You have to create work. That is the true nature of Belize.
I guess in the Toledo Hills there is nobody to sell anything to. But I doubt that, I bet I could go to a remote Mayan village and start some kind of business, but I probably will sell to tourists, not fellow villagers and try to attract a tourist flow. I think any of my girls could settle in a Mayan hill village and create a business. It would be tough going for awhile, but after a year or two, there would be a cash flow of some sort.
In Belize, you have to keep hopping as an entrepreneur. You start a business and it works, within 18 months, copycat businesses start up, to divide the small pie of income into smaller pieces.
On Tue, 28 Mar 2000, MEL wrote:
Terry's question about why aren't there more jobs and business activities in the districts and his brilliant example of a seemingly quite simple business idea that would work in Belize, only if someone had the know how to make it work, was quite a hard hitting assessment that begs the following questions. Are Belizeans simply not entrepreneurial enough to solve their own problems? If so, is it something that can be taught?.
Do Belizeans really need others to come show us how to start a business or are there obstacles that prevent many would-be Belizean entrepreneurs from succeeding or even getting started? If so, what are they? Maybe the answers will provide some clues as to why foreigners are able to arrive in Belize and set up shop while many Belizeans hang around and hope for a job.
Another train of thought that comes to mind is this. Hard work, in general, is not scarce out in the districts of Belize. If people leave to find work else where, it is a specific type of work that they seek. How is it that one type of work doesn't alleviate social problems when another one would. Is it because the type of jobs and business opportunities that Terry is referring to quenches the thirst for material things much more quickly than the other type of hard work that is available? So then, it would seem that our social problems come from the unfulfilled desire for material things and not necessarilly the unavailability of work.