BELIZE CITY, Wed. Nov. 22, 2017-The University of Belize (UB) held a business expo today at the Princess Hotel, at which students from the university showcased their inventions and a number of established businesses promoted their products and services.
Bernard Watler, UB’s Dean of Faculty of Management and Social Sciences, told Amandala that the University of Belize has been holding the business expo for the past 10 years, but it has grown and the university needed a bigger venue than their campus to hold the event.
“The prestige that comes along with it makes it fitting for us to have a venue like this now to showcase the students’ talents,” Watler said.
Amandala asked Watler what the business expo does for UB and the larger community.
Watler replied, “One of the pillars of national development and one of the policies of the government is to promote entrepreneurship and small business development. Hence, the university is trying to play a critical role in terms of assisting in national development by training potential entrepreneurs and small business owners so that our students, when they graduate, are able to generate their own employment and generate employment for others.”
Justin Espat, adjunct lecturer in the Faculty of Management and Social Sciences, told Amandala that “the business expo has everything, from food-based businesses to service- oriented projects. As it relates to how the different groups came up with their own products, we allowed them to explore different avenues and then do different forms of market testing to see which one would have been more productive in the market setting.”
Dr. Leroy Almendarez, an assistant professor at the Faculty of Management and Social Sciences, said that “in small business they had to conceptualize, and from concept they wrote a concept paper and then a full business plan. From that business plan, we reached here today. Anyone of these can transition to a small business development program. What we don’t want is for students to do it just for a grade. We want them to take these ideas and their business plan and get it financed, and they can create their own employment.”
Dr. Almendarez said that when the students leave they will have all the forecasts and projections, everything that is required for a business to succeed.
Justin Burns, a UB student, was one of the inventors of a product named Crystal Glow, which is a liquid soap for cars and a spray for cars. Burns said that Crystal Glow was manufactured by his group, which consists of five members.
Mark Marin, a second year UB student, was one of the inventors of Cashew Come-up, which is a hot sauce made from the cashew fruit. Marin said they had a sweet and spicy version and they also had a spicy marinade to complement. He said that their booth would also be selling barbequed meals for only $7.
Amandala asked Marin how they came up with the idea, and he said that his group was brainstorming and they came up with it. “We had a huge barrel of cashew vinegar,” he said. “So we implemented this vinegar into each and every one of our sauces. Being that cashew is seasonal we made a vinegar extract first so that it becomes a yearly product. The sauce sells for $5.”
Janelle Alvarez said that she and her group decided to study the market in Belize and they came up with the idea for a furniture polish, since there wasn’t any that was made locally. “We named our product, Wood Brite, which comes in four different scents — namely coconut, lavender, citrus and the wood scent,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez added that they did market research and these scents are the ones that appeal most to customers. Alvarez said that, based on all the feedback they received today, they will continue to develop the product and make it a brand for Belize.