Belizean Women Get Small Business Seed Capital to Combat Gender Violence

Gender and Migration, Migration and Development

Belize - Two hundred and forty women at risk of violence and human trafficking will today meet with Government of Belize and IOM Belize officials to receive seed capital ranging from USD 500 to USD 1,500 to promote their economic empowerment and protect them from gender-based violence.

They are part of a group of 319 Belizean women that have been selected from six urban, rural and border areas badly affected by violence against women, human trafficking and femicide.

Aged between 19-68, the women reflect the cultural diversity of Belize, due to migration, and include ethnic Creole, Garifuna, Maya and Mestizo individuals.

“It has been a struggle for me, as I am unable to read, but friends has been helping me and counselling me and eventually they convinced me that I could do it,” said Rosa Maria Perez, one of the women.

Some of the businesses under development are in the areas of food processing, producing and selling organic vegetables, chicken farming, handmade jewelry and making and selling clothing.

Benita Botes, 50, from the North of Belize said: “I have always been dreamed of being a woman entrepreneur, but it has been difficult for me as I have a disabled husband. Even if I just own a small business, at least it will be mine and I can gain a small income.”

A lack of jobs and income often force women to maintain subordinate roles and make them more likely to become victims of gender-based violence.

The women participated in a three weeks entrepreneurship training program designed for them by the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE).

“The workshop helped me a lot. Now I know how to manage my business. I can ask for another loan in the future, now I know how my business can grow,” said Clarita Galicia, one of the recipients.  “We learned how to invest, how we have to plan our time and how can we make our business grow,” said Berta Cob, another recipient.

This initiative took place as part of a project funded by the Netherlands and Finland, and implemented by the governments of Central America, the Central American Integration System, IOM and UNFPA.

Under the project, over 3,500 Central American women who were victims or at risk of violence, femicide and trafficking have been awarded seed capital grants to either start or enhance their small businesses.

For further information, please contact Alexandra Bonnie at IOM Belize, Tel: +501 223-9500, Email:

Handicrafts are one of the small businesses supported by the project. Photo: IOM