Loan to support MSMEs and women-owned businesses
BELMOPAN, BELIZE — Jobs in Belize’s digital economy are about to get a significant boost in training and resources thanks to a USD$10 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
That amounts to more than $20 million in Belize dollars, making it a major investment in the nation’s digital services sector.
This as Caribbean Employment Services Inc. CEO Joseph Boll, regional economists and other experts have forecasted that digital services will be a major driver of employment in a post-COVID Caribbean.
While sectors like tourism, hospitality and agriculture have historically provided most employment in Caribbean nations, the pandemic and its resulting push to technology have both encouraged economic diversification as well as highlighted how digital services can be a gamechanger for even “developing” Caribbean countries.
Now, this new loan from the IDB will take Belize’s digital services sector further in that direction.
Digital jobs in Belize promoted
According to a statement from the global organization, Belize will use the loan to “promote the digitalization of companies and government services, and boost local economic growth”.
“The initiative,” read the statement, “which is aimed at benefitting micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and has a focus on women-owned or led companies, will foster the adoption of digital technological solutions and train entrepreneurs to hone their digital skills.”
Further, it will train some 300 Belizean businesses, as well as “hundreds of citizens” to be digitally literate.
Another 200 businesses will receive vouchers enabling them to transform into digital businesses through development and new technology.
Additionally, 160 government workers will be training in “the management of digital tools and services” as the initiative seeks to facilitate the digitization of government services and thereby improve the ease of doing business.
IDB loan lines up with economic projections
This new IDB loan lines up near-perfectly with economic projections and trends in the region of late, specifically where digital services jobs are concerned.
Notably, it aims to increase support of MSMEs, which Boll previously suggested should be developed to improve job prospects.
Even further, the loan hammers home the belief of Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Governor Timothy Antoine that digital transformation will expand Caribbean economies and drive growth.
Additionally, by focusing on women, the loan has become part of a more recent trend to empower women and support their employment in formal jobs.
This follows several studies highlighting the disproportionate effect the pandemic had on Caribbean women despite their dominant importance in homes, in workplaces and to regional economies on the whole.