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
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
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".