[Linked Image] According to the Executive Director of the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE), Mike Singh, eighty percent of jobs in Belize are created by small - and medium-sized enterprises. That is why government has committed to increase the number of small and medium -sized businesses in the country by creating an environment favorable for investment. The first real step towards that goal was taken when the Government of Belize opened Belize's first Small Business Development Center (SMDC) on Wednesday, October 31st.

SMDCs help entrepreneurs by assisting small businesses with financial, marketing, production, organization, engineering and technical assistance as well as providing feasibility studies. Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education, said at the launch, "This initiative addresses a concern that I have long had about our Belizean society. Planning and preparation is something we don't do too well in this country." He gave several examples of how poor planning has stalled the development of our country and population. He said that there are many individuals with excellent business ideas but they need helping in getting their business off the ground running. Faber said, "Most people think all they need is start up money but that is not the case." There needs to be feasibility studies, business plans, financial statements, etc.
Singh said that when he became Executive Director of BELTRAIDE, he found a small business development department however, its focus was to introduce small businesses to export opportunities. Singh said, "I thought we were way ahead of ourselves by not helping them to develop internally first." Singh said his immediate goal was to restructure the department to focus on small business development, registering a business, establishing start up costs, identifying financial sources, etc. Singh said BELTRAIDE was "fortunate to be introduced to a model for exactly that."

The SBDC Model is a proven model for success and it is based primarily on partnerships between Government institutions and universities. The launch of Belize's first SMDC was made possible through collaboration among BELTRAIDE, the University of Belize, the Institute of Technical and Vocational Education and Training, the Development Finance Corporation, the Belize City Council, the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and the Organization of American States. The center is located at the University of Belize's Faculty of Business campus on College Street, West Landivar.

The Guardian