Entrepreneurship in Belize
Background & History
Belize is a Caribbean country located in the North Eastern coast of Central America. Bordered by Mexico in the North, the Caribbean sea in the east, Guatemala to its south and west, it has a total area approximately 23000 square kilometres and a population of approximately 400000. Belmopan is its capital city, and Belize city is the largest city.
The Mayan civilisation spread into Belize during the period of 1500 BC to 300 AD. The modern settlements by the European began in 1638 by the English and the Spanish. Britain defeated Spain in 1798 and made Belize a British Colony in 1840. Belize got its independence from Britain on 21 September 1981. Modern day Belize is a diverse and multicultural country.
Belize is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy, were in Queen Elizabeth II is the head of the state and is represented by the governor general. Guatemala has maintained a claim over Belize and its population since Belize became independent of Britain. The border dispute between Guatemala and Belize remains unsolved to date.
Belize is a small private enterprise economy, agriculture is the primary occupation followed by agro-based industries. Tourism and construction is gaining importance slowly. Belize’s rugged geography had made it attractive for drug smugglers to operate via the coastline and the jungles. Banking rules in the country have made it easy for non residents to open and manage bank accounts, thereby enabling drug traffickers and money launderers to use it to their advantage.
Many mineral deposits are found in the country but none are large enough to commence full scale mining industries. Limestone that’s used in building roads, is the only mineral that is being exploited for domestic and export purpose.
The Belize Barrier Reef is the second largest coral reef in the world, and is a popular tourist destination attracting half of its visitors every year.
Belize in ranked 135 out of 190 economies in the ease of doing business as per the World Bank ratings. Micro Small and Medium businesses generate 70% of employment in the private sector.
Entrepreneurship and Startups
The National Entrepreneurship Strategy in Belize aims to formalise and expand the entrepreneurship development plan throughout the country. A study conducted by Global Entrepreneurship monitor in 2016 found that the entrepreneurial activity in Belize had increased from around 7% to approximately 29% between 2014 and 2016.
With easy offshore banking services banks in Belize attract a lot of customers and money who find it easy to open and operate their bank accounts remotely. This has naturally led to the development of fintech startups in Belize. There are approximately 50 fintech startups in Belize. Besides fintech there are other tech startups in the space of business analysis and automation.
Major challenges faced by entrepreneurs and businessmen in Belize is around the lack of finances and the multiple taxation on local businesses, whilst the government incentivises offshore companies with lower taxes.