Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Graduating from the University of Belize in 2009



By Ray Auxillou, June 2009

The big question with the new influx of graduates from both Universities, with Bachelor Degrees and Associate Degrees, Colleges and of High School graduates is; what do they do next? The port town mind set asks this stupid question, you read it all the time in the newspapers.

You should travel and explore the world and stay single for a few more years, while you learn who you are and what you are capable of. Take odd jobs to pay your way. Travel is part of your graduate education.

From a country I remember, when nobody ever had a Bachelors Degree, not even for government civil service jobs and messengers worked their way up the ranks to clerks, and from there to senior administrators in government, Belize has come a very long way in academically educated citizens.

Like all generalisms this rule of thumb observation is not entirely true, but nearly true. The biggest employer in the country is our government. The government is dangerously in debt at a huge scale, ( 82% of GDP, when 3% of GDP for national debt is considered the upper limit allowable for a properly administered government ) far outweighing any possibility under this UDP of ever paying it off. In fact, the UDP government is borrowing money at a steady clip to keep operating, and hoping that the economy will turn around. With declining GDP and a rising national debt, there is speculation that a repeat of the UDP mistakes of last time they were in office will occur again, with a firing of over 400 salaried government employees next Christmas. Why Christmas? That is because the FALL months are traditional, for the fall off, of government tax revenues, and pre-planning supposes that reserves have been built up between January and August to carry the government through the starvation tax revenue months from September to January. So far, this new government has not given any public announcements showing they know how to budget and pre-plan. We suspect therefore the worst. The year 2010 is expected to be either worse, or more of the same. By 2012 things are expected to change around economically speaking. Then most of our politicians do not have educations that teach them logic and reason either, like this student graduation bonanza we are experiencing. For my own four daughters, I taught them anything after an Associate Degree was wasted time and money and I’m happy to say they all turned out pretty good, comfortable middle class business people, with homes in different countries. They have managed to see much of the world in traveling during their 20’s, which is what young people should do and holding off marriage for girls until they are 28 or so, is best in my opinion, while marriage over 32 is best for males. A person doesn’t really mature, which is an education of itself and learn what you can and want to do, until after some worldly exposure to travel and different ways of doing things.

It is nice to get all these graduates in Belize with an education, particularly in mathematics and science, enabling them to be logical and think and reason out problems going to face them after graduation. The fact is; our government the biggest salaried employer in the country is NOT going to be able to offer them salaried jobs. Nor do we wish to hear you graduates crying for jobs in a country that has so many thousands of opportunities for people that can think and reason. We expect you to create businesses and thus supply jobs for people who did not go to high school.

What the nation of Belize needs is; a bunch of graduates taught to turn entrepreneurs. Are this bunch of graduates at all mid levels capable of starting their own businesses? There are no shortage of opportunities in Belize to start businesses, but this presupposes they have had some leadership training and mentoring, while in education, teaching them how to go about this experimental, hands on learning process. Indeed the entrepreneurial opportunities are so huge in Belize , it is contemplated to import 5000 Chinese immigrant people with a business orientation from Taiwan , to boot strap our needed light manufacturing next step, or PHASE TWO of national economic development. Mennonites are self taught people and they are our life blood of agricultural and industrial development in the heartland of Belize . The government is prepared for this Phase Two, as many types of business, new loan departments and financial services are being organized as we speak, to assist these graduates to go into business. On a personal level I don’t approve of loans to start a risky business venture and much prefer company registration and the taking in of shareholders and raising the capital that way. Loans can be used to expand a successful business, but not as a start up risk venture. It takes all types though and you can borrow, or go the risk venture share capital route. The question remains; are this bunch of Belizean graduates capable of starting businesses? It is a fact of life that too much education creates specialties in trades, like lawyers, architects, engineers and so on. Nothing wrong with that at all, but an entrepreneurial business speculator needs to be a generalist and again as a generalism, needs somewhere between the first half of high school and an associate degree in education. If you want a specialist, you do not learn that trade, but learn how to hire them on a short term consultant contract, to accomplish whatever your business goals are. After that, the specialization process of higher tertiary education somehow cheats higher educated graduates of the willpower and capabilitiy of becoming entrepreneurs. Don’t ask my why, because this is a lifetime of observation. Like all generalisms, it is not always true, but in the majority of cases pretty much, most higher tertiary education defeats the requirements of developing Belize and is producing educated people, seeking salaried job security. Usually at a poverty level government salary.

Belize needs entrepreneurs and if this graduating group are not capable of starting businesses, then we are going to have to import our immigrant technical talent. That is simply a fact of life and our educational establishment will have to adjust curriculums to suit our national development needs.

The University of Belize is graduating 588, most of them with Bachelor Degrees. Unfortunately one could suppose they are overeducated for Belizean national development? Undoubtedly they will be looking for salaried jobs at poverty level. You can always go into a law degree and become a white collar criminal. Get your law degree and go into politics and that has proven a fairly safe and secure way of becoming a white collar criminal millionaire in Belize . Like all business, that route is likely to become overcrowded in the next few years from competition. What Belize needs are producers that export products.

The statistics say over 5000 students will graduate from some form of education this month. Remember you only need between mid High school level and an Associate Degree to become a successful entrepreneur business person. Can you build an electric producing windmill? The world is crying for windmills. Can you grow cobia, or jacks in fish net ponds? Belize can export all the fish fillet we can produce. With a world population at 7 billion and in 15 years projected to be 9 ½ billion, food is always a good product to export. Can you make bricks from our red clay? The construction business is booming and needs construction materials. Right now Guatemalan truckers come into Belize picking up all our scrap automobiles and take them back to Guatemala to squash and melt and re-fabricate to make construction re-bar rods to sell back to us in Belize. Think you could do that? The Long EZE experimental two place aircraft has a big world market. Nobody is producing them anymore as the original designers died, can you do that? Three or four aircraft have already been built in Belize .

Probably the question to be asking, have our educators prepared you to think in entrepreneurial business terms? For every ten businesses you select to try, nine will fail during your beginning attempts and you never know which one will click, no matter how much you plan. You get better with practice. Any new business is a gamble even though you plan. The unexpected glitches always occur. An entrepreneur keeps trying business ideas, which is why it is a bad thing to start a new venture on loan capital, in my experience. Loans knock you out of the business world, if your idea fails. If you borrowed and failed, how do you pay back? Risk capital in the form of shares in the business does not burden you with paying back, if the venture fails. You can try again with something else. Always reserve 50% of voting stock shares for yourself, to keep control of the Board of Directors. There are a lot of venture investors who want to vote you out of your own business and take it over, if you are successful. You have to watch that part of share issues. It costs $25 to register a company in Belmopan , to start off with and issue shares to your family and friends. If you are successful, then you go to the next step and register a Limited Liability company for $250 at the registry in Belize . Limited liability protects owners as shareholders from loan and debt claims if you go bust. If you borrow money from a bank, or from the DFC or anybody, you want to borrow when you have a limited liability company. The debt is dead if the venture fails and you put the limited liability company through bankruptcy. Then you can start and try a new venture. Remember at the beginning, 9 out of 10 ventures will fail, until you learn the lessons every new generation has to learn. You get better as you go along, like with most things. You cannot get this experience from school, only by experimenting and doing this learning process in the real world, like riding a bike, or flying a plane. Renting business premises are another way businesses fail. Nearly all successful business started out as home businesses. Renting premises usually cause start ups to fail. The financial burden of rent is too big at the start up stage. Many small businesses are viable as home business with no rent, but become failures if you rent premises. I taught my girls you need seven small businesses in Belize to ensure a seasonal flow of cash to live on. You are not going to let all your eggs be placed in one basket. Diversification is key. Did they teach you that in Standard 5, 6, or High School? The thing about learning to ride a bicycle and starting successful businesses is practice. You get better at it, as you get older and learn the lessons by osmosis. Repetition is the key of the successful business lessons learned, and what things got you to make failures, so you don’t repeat those again. When you have one successful business venture, it becomes easier and easier to make more successful businesses. Just like learning to land an airplane with an instructor and then landing it when you are flying solo as the only person on board. Practice gets you better.

We have 5000 graduates the newspapers announce, educated enough to be entrepreneurs, or business people and make yourself wealthy upper middle class. You need to know to be able to learn what you want from the internet. You need to be able to research and reason. You need to be able to acquire risk capital for a venture by selling shares in a company to friends and family, and plan and try out your ideas for a business. You can become filthy rich this way. You will of course have probably nine failed ventures for every ten you try. That is part of being a venture entrepreneur. You need seven successful operations to be well set in life in a place like Belize that is third world. That is our family experience in Belize . That means you will probably over your life time in the next 30 years, experiment with 70 business ventures. Do you have the mind set, to do this for yourselves and for building Belize our economy? Or do we have to go to Taiwan to import immigrant entrepreneurs able to start the needed export businesses we have opportunities for in Belize ? The opportunities for growth are in export businesses, not in local business.

One thing to remember, now you are educated. DON’T come crying for a salaried job. We don’t need you in Belize for that. This is a pioneer country we are building and we need builders of this nation, able to stand on their own. Have you got what it takes? I can tell you from experience, the fun in life is building something, facing and tackling challenges. Without the satisfaction of creativity and the challenges to overcome, life can otherwise be a very boring place. A salaried job is a very boring way to spend your life.


1 comment:

jo said...

I agree 100% with your article.
It's very good.

My husband and I have a dautgher and we tell her the exact same thing you were writting.

We are from another country and the situation is the same.

We are thinking seriously to go and leave to Belize.