Pushing the innovation movement in Belize by supporting locals has never been more pertinent. There have been many discussions on why Belize should fuel local businesses. However, recent global changes have rejuvenated this dialogue. Buying local runs deeper than economic preservation and survival. It extends its reach to bridging the generational gap and preserving family practices. There are some who challenge an over-dependence on local businesses. Many argue that buying local can prove to be too expensive, and countries still need to establish a global presence by opening their economies. However, there are many reasons why developing local businesses is necessary especially in light of recent economic shifts and stagnation.
Belizean supporting Belize. Buying local products encourages a feeling of ownership in the country. There is the acknowledgment by the people that they have agency. They can affect a change in their community with their individual skills. This ownership has already gained momentum. Belizean businesses have been emerging especially among Belizean youths. Products are popping up in markets carrying the promising labels of “made in Belize”. There is a challenge here however, it lies in their cognition that local is of quality even more so than its imported parallel. One of the possible means of answering this question emerged as trends and social media became the new tool for marketing. As stores closed across the country marketing campaigns on social media took the lead to sell local produce, deliver goods and services and launch new items. All of these were crafted and imagined in Belize. Agency has never been so powerful. Unlike the early 20th Century, 21st Century communication methods are more efficient. Questions on product quality, location, and movement can be readily answered. As customers become comfortable with products its popularity increases. We have become accustomed to physically being in stores, but Covid-19 altered this perception. Local businesses have imagined and executed methods of adhering to physical distancing while at the same time selling their goods.
Money earned is circulated with the community
The recent standstill has offered the possibility of local businesses sustaining communities in need. As entrepreneurs evolve and establish a range of services, money earned is circulated with the community. The trick to this is community buy-in and ushering in a new tradition that locals can meet their needs. Local businesses take pride in their service. In Belize, artists and artisans alike are exhibiting the creation process for their clientele. Sustainability and environmentally conscious products proudly showcase their ingredients, method of execution, or creation. Fewer chemicals, more care, and natural ingredients have allowed customers to feel a connection to the process. A conscious creator attracts an appreciative and loyal customer.
The power of the community
In the past, the concept of a community may have been isolated to a more geographic definition. However, the community has taken on a new virtual form which includes the creation of small virtual support groups. What does this have to do with local businesses? Everything!. Social Media forums are building a zone of trade for local business owners. Handmade in Belize is one such community advertising small entities who may not be able to afford printed advertising. They buy each other’s products and encourage others to do the same. Capital circulates and jobs are not lost. Perhaps the most important part of this movement is the feeling of appreciation. Venturing out on your own is a daunting experience, mixed feelings, and fear of failure are constant. However, as a community whether virtual or in a more traditional sense, it allows for shared experiences and encouragement. This effort in truth has a long way to go but, it promises a future for our children to grow with a greater appreciation for their country. Look at what Belize can do: A new generation of entrepreneurs who are free to express and share the fruits of this expression has developed.
The Belizean product should not be looked at as overpriced when compared to others, it should be looked at as tangible evidence of national pride. Belizeans hold the key to greater national development and it lies in the support of all of the small businesses. From taco stands to furniture, art, beauty products to name a few. To be a Belizean is to hold the potential to be a great creator and nurturer.
Article submitted by Saidy Godette, Owner of The Art Shack