REPORT #633 April 2003

Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Well Rick you might be listing foreign retirees as one source of investors? In a country like Belize the resource of entrepreneurs renews itself. Once in a while I wonder how many actually try, in any five year period? There is always a new generation going to try old and sometimes new tricks. I notice that the 20's are the best age, but most successful entrepreneurs in Belize are usually in their 30's and 40's. After that it sort of drops off.

I tried to guess estimate, or quantify with the birth and school graduation rate, but it is difficult to do. But my guess would be around 15% to 20% of all new generation hitting the 30 year old mark in Belize become entrepreneurs. That is a much higher figure than in most industrialized countries, but probably because in the Third World there are few salaried jobs, except those created by the government townies from the salaried treasury and foreign loan borrowing system. How many entrepreneurs that would be in Belize the nation, I'm not sure? But probably not more than a 1000 around the country in any given new five year period? In fact, it might even be a lot lower than that? Say, 300 people reaching their 30's.

Certainly, foreign retirees are a source of entrepreneurs in Belize. I doubt though that the number exceeds more than 60 people every five year period. They usually make a bigger impact, as they can carry on business due to retirement cash flow money and have a cash nest egg; which carries them through lean periods and seasonal business fluctuations and the bureaucratic and political interference they experience.

The third source of entrepreneurs usually start working for someone else locally and usually illegally as tourist/non-immigrants. They come from diverse countries, such as Europe and North America and many from local Central American countries. Eventually they stablilize and start the paper work process of legalizing their status as new immigrants and becoming Belizean citizens. This latter set of people are much greater in number than all the other two. How many exactly I do not know? Most notable on tourist islands like Caye Caulker and San Pedro are the young people in their 20's, who flee from the cold weather of European and North American countries. Those that are misfits and eccentrics and cannot fit into the cookie cutter style society of industrial organization. They usually lap up the country friendly feel of Belize and the people here and settle down, marry and have kids. Legal papers and immigration problems give them trouble for many years unfortunately! Personally, anyone who has struggled to live in Belize for more than 3 years is acclimatized I would say, and should receive automatic Belizean citizenship, notwithstanding any bureaucratic logjam of insufficient funds, or paperwork. Once you pass the 2.5 year mark in Belize, you definitely have become Belizeanized.

Usually, the government are not aware, or choose to ignore it. But the small starting entrepreneur is the bedrock of the tax base of Belize. That is were the building block foundation of the government tax revenues start from. Without which the government would have no revenues to work with. It is not the big company, like FORTIS. But the accumulation of all of these new starting entrepreneurs in the above three main categories that grow Belize and the GDP.

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