Our Community - Vilma Umaña -"Providing produce a-plenty in paradise"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 13, No. 24            June 26, 2003

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Vilma Umaña

Ambergris Caye is an island where nearly everything seems to be developing at an alarming rate. Along with this growth, comes a rise in the population and a greater demand for goods and services. This week, The San Pedro Sun is pleased to introduce to you a very dedicated and hard working businesswoman who, in ten years as an island resident has established not one, but two successful ways to meet these needs - Vilma Umaña of Big Tree Produce.

    Vilma was born in San Pablo, Tacachico, El Salvador on March 25th, 1974 to parents Vicenta Canales and Daniel Umaña. Raised in a very large family, she is the third oldest sibling of six brothers and five sisters. Seeking a better way of life, Vilma's father learned of several job opportunities being offered in Belize. So, in 1981, the Umaña family pulled up roots and relocated to the settlement of Valle De Paz (Valley Of Peace) in the agricultural Cayo District of western Belize.

     Vilma first attended Valley Of Peace Roman Catholic School, (renamed Monsignor Romero Primary School). After graduating from primary school in 1988, she continued her education at Belmopan Comprehensive School, where she completed her commercial studies. After graduating from high school in 1992, Vilma went to work for the Central Statistical Office located in Belmopan, doing accounting for one year. While there, she met friends who had visited Ambergris Caye, and they told her about the job opportunities that existed in San Pedro. Shortly after hearing this, Vilma quit her job and traveled to the island, eager to experience life in a different place where she could become more prosperous.

     Arriving in San Pedro in 1993, Vilma immediately fell in love with the small community and realized this was where she wanted to spend the rest of her life. Soon after, she was hired by Toucan Too Gift Shop to work as a salesclerk. In 1995, after two years of retail sales, Vilma accepted a better paying job at Ramon's Golf Cart Rentals, and spent the next two years renting golf carts.

     In 1996, Vilma met her true love, Francisco Carmona, who has remained her common-law-husband for seven years. They are the proud parents of two beautiful boys: Francisco Javier (two years old) and Michael Jovan (two months old). 

     In 1997, Vilma decided she needed to spend some time with her family in Valley of Peace. After six months, though, she returned to San Pedro and was rehired as a salesperson at Toucan Too Gift Shop.

    By 1999, Vilma was determined to run her own business and opened "La Esquinita," a deli located on Pescador Drive. There, she sold burgers, sandwiches, salbutes and other types of fast food. One and a half years later, Vilma grew tired of the business and sold the deli to one of her sisters. Once again, she returned home to spend time with her family, but this time, it was because she was pregnant with her first child.

    During a visit to the mainland, Vilma discovered an opportunity to help her home village and also establish another business in San Pedro. So, in 2002 the young businesswoman opened "Big Tree Fruits and Vegetables" located on Pescador Drive, importing fruits and vegetables from the growers in Valley of Peace. Vilma presently manages Big Tree seven-days-a-week where, besides produce, she sells seafood and smoked meat products, groceries and a variety of juices. Ever the entrepreneur, Vilma states she is looking forward to creating yet another enterprise. Even with as much time as this new business will demand, she says she still intends to keep Big Tree as well. 

     When Vilma is not working she likes to spend time with her family, enjoying a day at the beach or playing in the park. Her hobbies include sewing, listening to music and reading.

     Vilma states, "I like San Pedro for the business potential and the sea, but most of all, I like the people of San Pedro." With her friendly personality and business savvy, Vilma has made a living providing for the needs of both tourists and locals alike. In this way, she joins many other innovative business people who "produce" positive results in "Our Community".

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