BELIZE CITY, Mon. June 29, 2020– Mayor Bernard Wagner, the Belize City Council and collaborating partners today made history with a one-of-a-kind program to help people become self-reliant entrepreneurs by giving them training and support.
The program, called Belize Acceleration Program, was launched today, and Cohort 1 of the program, comprising of 20 candidates, received their certificates, issued by Mayor Bernard Wagner and Councilor Javier Castellanos during a ceremony at City Hall on Regent Street this morning.
After the candidates received their certificates, they were issued brand new tools for their businesses.
In his address to the gathering, Mayor Wagner explained how the effort came about.
“The fulfillment of this undertaking is such a bitter sweet experience. When I look around this room and see this cadre of budding, determined, and focused entrepreneurs, my mind cannot help, but remember our dear colleague.
“The late Hubert Pipersburgh, City Council executive, was an innovator who saw the importance in self-reliance. Our council’s manifesto spoke about being business-friendly, about creating that enabling business environment, one which promotes the spirit of entrepreneurship.
“Collectively, the vision of Hubert and our council became reality, and that is what we celebrate today.
“Having a vision though, is only 50% of the journey, a reality which Hubert knew well. As human beings we all have goals, dreams and aspirations. New businesses are emerging every day, some will survive, while some will fail. It is the natural order.
“To make matters even starker, COVID-19 is here with us and has displaced over 80,000 Belizeans from employment, a large majority of that in Belize City with no sign of restoration in the near future. We have therefore forcefully been plunged into what is now the “new normal”.
“Citizens are saying in a nutshell that the reality of losing their employment due to COVID-19 has drastically shifted their mindsets, and their way of thinking,” the Mayor said, adding that “Cohort#1 now has new incentives, they are now driven by new motivations. They have undergone behavioral changes that is being driven by the new norm, of being one’s own boss. BAP was designed principally to empower our young Belizean entrepreneurs.”
In his address to the attendees and Cohort 1, Counselor Castellanos, under whose portfolio the program falls, said that Pipersburgh is not here to today to see his vision come true, but he is looking down from Heaven, where he is, and he is smiling, but his wife is present to represent him.
Castellanos said that the theme of the program is, “I am my own boss, the new normal,” and thanked all who collaborated with the City Council for the successful execution of the program designed to better the lives people in these hard times by creating opportunities to succeed. Entrepreneurship is the new norm for success, he said.
The candidates were given a three-day training course, in which they were taught all about business, canvassing, marketing, and they were assisted in obtaining their business licensees, how to make a balance sheet, and how to run a business successfully.
Castellanos said that they have been given the knowledge they need to succeed in whatever business they wish to undertake, and the Council will back them up if they should face any difficulty.
Some of the businesses included food preparation, including stoves and pots, and hotel training. Some participants received weed wackers, with all the other equipment and fuel needed to start their businesses.
The Mayor said that there will be a Cohort every 3 months, and that it will be continuous. They need about $100,000 for the program, but they have partners and collaborators to ensure the success of the programs.