Belize is a world away from the hustle and bustle of modern North American living. Though the cities offer just about every amenity and activity you might want, the economy is much different than your typical urban sprawl. Tourism is the primary industry, along with some limited farming of fruit, sugar and fish products. The service sector employs over seventy percent of the work force, and much of the rest work in agriculture. It is also a fertile ground for micro-businesses, small ventures owned by families, couples and frequently non-nationals that provide myriad services to residents, tourists and Belizeans alike.
There is yet so much undeveloped land in the country and great potential to expand crop products for export. Current fruit exports are citrus, bananas, sugar and molasses, but the list has recently expanded to include specialties like papaya, rice and chocolate. Most other industries are under represented, which may provide some interesting opportunities for the entrepreneurially minded. Best of all, the government of Belize provides attractive incentives to new businesses that contribute to the betterment of the local economy – in other words, by providing jobs to Belizeans. Some of these perks include tax holidays, exemption from import and export duties and a low tax structure overall, all of which serve to add to the long list of benefits to owning a business in Belize.
Hospitality and tourism related businesses do very well, especially when ideally located, either on or near a beach, located close to amenities or with good proximity to popular tourist attractions. Restaurants are much more affordable to run than elsewhere in the world, and might actually see a viable margin due to low wages and food costs. Accommodation still carries the highest profit margin of all tourism related activities, and if ran efficiently and marketed well can be a viable enterprise even on a small scale and with just a handful of rooms.
Aside from tourism, there are dozens of opportunities to launch micro businesses that would be of interest to locals and ex-pats alike. Technical and computer help will always be in demand, as will any niche service: yoga instructors, dance instructors, wedding planners, luxury goods and clothing, anything you can think of that exists in other parts of the world could easily work here. Keep in mind that many goods and services are quite inexpensive in Belize, as are wages, so you would have to be very clear about your target market. The bottom line on starting a business in Belize? It’s a wide-open frontier. Be a pioneer and you will most certainly prosper.