MSME Enhancement program workshop held in San Pedro Town
Friday, July 12th, 2019
The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Enhancement (MSME) program was launched on May 29th in Belize City to reduce the cost of doing business and strengthening the competitiveness of the MSME participants. The program aims to also create greater operational efficiency by improving customs and trade facilitation measures on selected packaging and labeling materials for importation. The team promoting the project is attached to the Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Commerce, and are touring the country to sensitize entrepreneurs and small businesses how to become part of the program and share its benefits. On Wednesday, July 10th, the first presentation took place in San Pedro Town, where an informative session brought interested stakeholders to the San Pedro Town Council Conference Room.
The government team visiting San Pedro added that the program also has the support of BELTRAIDE, the Economic Development Council, Customs and Excise Department. At 9AM, Monique Usher, General Manager at the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) at BELTRAIDE, started the informative session. She explained that once a business signs up to be part of the program, they will see immediate benefits through the waiver of fees from imported products. According to her, there is a short list of items that are eligible for the waiver. “These items are but not limited to, adhesives, sheets, film, foil, tape, boxes, cases, crates, bags, jars, labels, wrapping machine, pallets, bottles, plates among others,” said Usher. “The process is easy, once an establishment signs up with us and wants to import a shipment of products within the shortlist, they need first to obtain an invoice for the goods they want to import and engage a registered customs broker in Belize. The custom broker then contacts us so that we can facilitate the waiving of the customs import duty.” Usher added that the program would not only benefit MSMEs but ultimately, consumers. “If entrepreneurs can do business for less, then their services would come at lower costs for customers,” she said.
The MSME program is available for micro-businesses with less than five employees and generates annual sales of less than $100,000 with less than $50,000 of investment. Others who can also apply are establishments with five up to 19 employees, generate less than $500,000 in annual sales, and invest less than $150,000. Businesses with 20 or 51 employees and generate less than $1.5 million and invest less than $500,000.00 can also sign up to be part of the MSME program.
Interested entrepreneurs or small businesses in this program need a couple of official documents before they can sign up. An original copy of the Certificate of Registration from the Belize Companies and Corporate Affairs Registry is imperative. A valid Belize Social Security Card or Passport, along with proof of registration as an employer or self-employed person with the Social Security Board. Also, an official letter from the General Sales Tax Department indicating registered Importer’s Tax Identification Number. The last thing needed will be a shortlist of intended packaging or labeling materials, with average quantity estimates by month, for the business establishment.
After the presentation, Usher and her team mingled with the attendees and answered further questions. The SBDC team indicated that with the aid of The San Pedro Town Council, they would return to the island and visit those small businesses that did not make it to the presentation.
For further information on the MSME program or to sing up, interested parties can call 223-3195 or email [email protected]
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