we moved to Belize in the 1980’s writing about business meant telling of
the great entrepreneurs we had come to know, both locals and expats.
The shoe repair shop on wheels …bicycle wheels. The first Belizean yoghurt
company. A couple from Chicago making their product in 5 gallon buckets
in their kitchen at night. 3 single American girls supporting themselves
by delivering freshly baked pizzas on motorscooters. - A retired
music teacher opening a music school for young people at the community
civic center. A mobile meat market in a trailer, driven by the owner to
areas where there are no meat markets. None of these people got rich, but
they all lived where they wanted and worked how and when they
wanted, which in some cases was very little.The couple who started the
yoghurt business worked 1 day and 1 night a week to support themselves
and their 2 young children.
simplicity and ease with which one can start a business in Belize lets
many people do something they have always wanted to try but weren’t able
to back home. I remember a 70 something retiree
who had owned a hearing aid business in Southern California who told me
he had always dreamed of having a donut business.When he went to
Texas in the early 1960’s he noticed there were no California style
donut shops. He felt he could make a killing in donuts, but when his wife
discouraged him and he added up what it would cost him to buy the equipment
he needed and to rent the business space he didn’t even try, something
he always regretted.
in Belize 30 years later he started experimenting with donut recipes, this
time his wife got interested and together they started a business at home
making donuts and specialty breads and rolls to distribute to local grocery
We loved seeing
this older gentleman so alive and enjoying his little business so much,
even when he was on crutches recovering from a motorcycle accident he was
euphorically hobbling around his kitchen overseeing the baking. Eventually
when he decided he had had enough of the donut business he simply hung
up a hand painted sign that said “No more donuts”, no expensive equipment
to sell off, no lease to try and get out of, just “No more donuts.”
Being free from all the bureaucratic red tape, and expensive, complicated
procedures, frees a person to put all their creative energy into their
business. We love seeing owners of even the smallest of businesses empowered
In the developing
world no one expects anything from the government and so they know they
either have to get out there and earn money at something or
live off the food they have growing in their yard and the fish they can
catch. But in the past decade, Belize has become home to a very different
and much more sophisticated type of business and entrepreneur.
Belize is now
the third largest domicile for offshore businesses in the Caribbean-Central
American basin, behind only the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands.
remarkable since offshore legislation just began to be written in Belize
in the early 1990’s.
And in a time
when many traditional offshore jurisdicitons are adding more controls and
restricitions, Belize is doing just the opposite , making the system here
more user- friendly. Belize now has it’s sights set on becoming a leading
offshore e-commerce center. Some think that the Belize web extension “.bz”
, will come to mean business in a domain name.
As the days
of the telecom monopoly of Belize Telecommunications Ltd draw to a close,
it’s 30 year exclusive rights contract expires in January 2003,
the future of e-commerce looks bright for Belize. Already one of
the first jurisdictions in the world to allow online gaming, Belize is
now home to an offshore e-commerce free zone.
In an effort
to attract investors, the government of Belize has established an Export
Processing Free Zone(EPZ).The idea behind it is to combine Belize’s
offshore financial services with state of the art technology.
The zone is
located 13 miles outside Belize City on the Northern Highway in Ladyville,
just a few minutes away from the Philip Goldson international airport.
in the EPZ enjoy the following benefits:
can operate totally tax free: No income tax, no capital gains tax, no sales
brought into Belize for a business in the EPZ, including vehicles and office
furniture would be free of all customs duties and any other taxes.
Goods and services
can be exchanged between EPZ companies tax free.
There are no
exchange restrictions and funds are transferrable freely in and out of
Belize. No conversion to Belize currency necessary.
The zone is
technically offshore, legally not even considered to be in Belize, so the
telecom monoply does not apply here.
It is thought
that since Belize has many of the elements sought by international investors
the EPZ could have wide appeal:
Belize is in
a good geographical location. By air, it is less then 2 hours from Miami,
connecting it with flights to the rest of the world.It is also accessible
by road, 1,350 miles south of Brownsville Texas, making shipping by ground
possible. Belize also has 2 deep water ports and is regularly serviced
by several shipping lines.
Belize is a
stable democracy with no history of political unrest.The exchange
rate has been fixed for the past 25 years and there has never been a currency
an English speaking workforce which will work for wages well below countries
like the US or Canada. Expect to pay a skilled full time worker $75-100
US for a 6 day work week.
Ltd. a Belize City based company has created an e-business park in the
EPZ. Set on 90 acres of manicured grounds the park offers executive office
space ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 square feet. So far there are 6 two-story
buildings, each having 6,000 sq.ft of available office space on the bottom
and 4,000 on top.The office space comes with electricity ,water, air-conditioning
and fiber optic cable pre-installed. Office space rents for $3.50US
per sq.ft with a 1,000 sq ft minimum.
is available at the following monthly fees:
e-business park is designed to cater to technology companies.The park has
been open since 2000 and currently has 10 companies operating out of it.For
more info see www.datapro.bz
Claire Gray are the authors of Belize Reitrement Guide as well
as numerous special reports on Belize. Visit their website at www.belizeretire.com