Belize, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti are small countries that have varying degrees of development, openness, but all four are filled with entrepreneurial people. Read on to find out what it’s like to do business in each of these countries, as well as startups pushing their way through to gain traction and get out of their local market.
Doing Business in Belize
This small tropical country (population of 360k) nestled under Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula has long been a top tourist destination but lags behind the rest of the region in entrepreneurship.
The GDP is US$1.76B, and there is currently only one coworking space located in Belize City, Alliance Business Centres, and monthly salaries remain low at around US$800 per month, though the cost of living is relatively higher in Belize than in neighboring countries. Belize’s official language is English, making it simple for those from the United States to work there without having to learn another language.
Local startups such as Boarding Path, the “Google Maps” for inside airports, and Gone Green Superfoods, a manufacturer and importer of the most nutrient-dense superfoods available, target foreign markets – in line with Belize’s fame as a tourism destination – but are slowly gaining traction worldwide. Compared neighboring Costa Rica and Panama, Belize’s ecosystem is much smaller and there are fewer tech startups, but it could be an interesting middle ground, as it’s safer than countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. (more…)
Over the past week, I have been incredibly inspired by Jake Wood and the rest of Team Rubicon’s privately funded relief effort in Haiti. Wood and his team were fed up with the bureaucracy and red tape associated with providing relief in Haiti, so they took matters into their own hands.
Jake Wood, who is about my age, is a former UW football player who graduated and enlisted in the Marines. During his service, he completed two tours of duty, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan and is now retired. I first heard about Wood when I found his blog, Jake’s Life, shortly after he deployed for the first time. I’ve been following his blog ever since.
Team Rubicon flew into the Dominican Republic and drove overland into Haiti with supplies donated from people in America. They quickly got to work helping people survive.
Their blog posts are heart wrenching and amazing, all at the same time. Many of the pictures are graphic. One of their recent posts was called Bureaucracy is killing people, not bandits, and laments the fact that donations are sitting at the airport and not reaching the people who need it most. Today, Team Rubicon has managed to treat over 200 people, in addition to the hundreds they have helped in the past few days and are quickly running out of supplies. Their entire mission is completely privately funded, so they rely on private donations. Please check out their blog and think about what you can do to help their effort.
The world needs more people like Team Rubicon. Their entrepreneurial approach to helping people is saving lives, while supplies sits at the airport. Mark Cuban recently said, “We need people who try to change the game. Who don’t just approach problems with gutless answers.” He was referring to NBC and the Tonight Show, but I think it really applies to Team Rubicon. They have changed the game for hundreds of Haitians by acting, not just sitting around. I am inspired by their work and wish them the very best. Good luck, stay safe and keep up the good work!