Sunday, January 8, 2012



In the past, our government has sent individuals abroad to study HOW TO, on various subjects of a technical nature. Almost invariably it has turned out to be a useless waste of money. The returned individual was not able to translate the knowledge and skill learned into a practical money earning cottage industry. It is time we look at new ways of acquiring the skills sets we need in this country, to BOOTSTRAP an ECONOMIC SMALL SCALE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, to build our jobs, businesses and increase out GDP.

How to do it? Several ideas run through my mind. Don´t know if they would work, but to be considered, by those PAID to find solutions to our lack of SKILLS EDUCATION dilemma.

We could ask for some of the small countries of Europe, mainly France, Germany and the UK to send us their version of a Peace Corps Volunteer, stipulated by industry skills. The UNITED NATIONS FAO does this quite well in agriculture and fisheries matters. What we need though; is the SKILL SETS of small entrepreneurs in the afore mentioned EU industrialized countries.

I can give you some experiences and ideas from my travels. One time in the U.K. in LEEDS, central market, there was a guy, with a stall, no bigger than stalls at our local Macal River market. He had his back wall covered with hanging brass circular plaques for home decoration. He stood by his front counter, working with a knife carving a clay Madonna religious thingy, on a 3 ft by 3 ft piece of plywood, on which was a lump of red clay, like we have around Hillview out in Western Belize. He said his best sellers were religious scenes. He sold the plaques hanging on his back wall for 4 pounds sterling, back 30 years ago. Which I thought was cheap. I asked to see one, and he took one down and passed it to me. I was flabbergasted, as the thing weighed no more than a feather, or piece of paper. Yet it looked just like SOLID BRASS. Turned out to be plastic. I returned a number of weekends and persued the knowledge. Finally he told me how he did it. He bought brass colored plastic 4 ft x 8 ft plastic sheets, imported into the U.K. from the USA. ( Houston I believe?) He would make a clay mold of the plaque he was going to make. Working while customers passed by in the central market. Then later at home, he would make a mold of that clay, in either fiberglass, or epoxy, forget which? Once the mold was hard, he took it to a friend in another place, ( I went with him ) who had a thermo vacuum oven. Which could melt, or soften plastic sheeting. You put the fiberglass mold in the oven, ( about a 4 ft by 4 ft flat electrical plate kind of thing ) Or maybe it was a plaster of paris copy ( they sell this at Celinas Hardware here ) cast in the mold? Don´t remember now? Anyway, the oven was turned on, the plastic was softened and sucked down by atmospheric pressure by a vacuum pump and took the shape of the plaster of paris object plaque. Few minutes later you had a wall plaque and could do it again. You trimmed the plastic rim with a zippo knife and made as many as you wanted, or thought you could sell. He took the plastic plaques back to his market stall and using shoe polish, black and brown, he highlighted shadows and stuff and VOILA! He had authenticate looking VERY EXPENSIVE TYPE BRASS WALL PLAQUES. Very decorative antique looking wall hanging. Cheap to make, cheap to sell and a simple desk top venture.

There was a guy in the USA started making cardboard crude telescopes for $15 usa. The profession mass produced factory type equivalent telescope cost about $50 usa. I tried to make one, but ran into trouble finding lenses. Never could find either glass, or plastic lenses at a price would allow me to do this. Compete in the outside world market place by PRICE value. I bought one and you could see a mile and people doing things quite plainly, though the picture was kind of blurry, and vibration by the wind at a mile away, kind of ticklish. Shelter from the wind and brace the telescope you could see a mile in close up detail. For less than $16 usa, plus postage and handling. What I needed here in Hillview was to make them for $5 usa, to cover a competitive internet price. The cardboard tubes were the same as a paper towel roll, and a toilet paper roll for the second shorter focusing tube. You can find the instructions on the interent. You paint the cardboard rolls with latex flat black paint. You also need to dress it up a bit, with a ring at each end, which you can make with a hand operated press, if you have aluminum, like for making jewelry. The lenses were my stumbling block. The optometrists with machines in town, ( Belize City ) refused to make me telescope lenses. So I needed a grinding machine, but never found one I could afford. The thing is you can buy both glass locally, but not the clear plastic sheets, to make lense blanks. Anyway, the guy in the USA underpriced the more fancy competition and actually had much bigger and far away capability, even if a bit blurry. Through the internet he succeeded in encouraging star gazing high school programs and sold to them and had a garage based business, making 20,000 cardboard telescopes he was selling per month. These were throw away telescopes at that price. Cheap and when the novely wore off, could be discarded.

Take the famous CUCKOO CLOCK of Germany. You can buy the apparatus to make them, change the folk dancers to parrots to reflect Belize culture and sell them over the internet. Lots of businesses.

Lots of businesses are valid if you build cheap and crude and under price the fancy quality competition. Take telescopes again. Satellites can read a newspaper from 200 miles UP. They overcome the focal length barrier, for small satellites, by using prisms alongside a telescope and bounce the image, back and forth in parallel to the limits of length able to fit in a satellite. Thus gaining immense ability for magnification, yet in a small space.

There is a steady market for cheap, but quality MAYAN hammocks in the world. Working on that. All hand made. By weaving.

NEARBY GUATEMALA has 12 million population. Of which 2 million are probably a market for Belize based small cottage industry. Such industry I have seen in Guatemala is either European based Internationals, who create small factories in each Central and South American country, like for making plastic ropes and such. Guatemala has limited small industry and is more or less equal to BELIZE in lacking such things.

I´m sure there is a market for Guatemalan SWEATER JACKETS, which can be knitted here in Belize. We have been trying out here in Hillview, but the pegs on the plastic knitting thingy Charlie sent me, are too far apart, or we are waiting when we make a trip to the Guatemalan highlands, probably COBAN to see if we can find thicker WOOL balls to use.

The OPPORTUNITIES GO ON AND ON. We can make the DESAI steam engine in Belize, if we had the skill set, to do the one room BLACKSMITH IRON FOUNDRY type sand box castings, to make the heads. A lathe to make the pistons, per the video here in another article on this BLOG. NO END TO THE EXPORT OPPORTUNITIES.

I one time sent off to DUPONT to get some rubber latex you use to make peal off molds. You carve a wooden figure, or make it in clay and fire it, then make the mold and just pour in liquid clay to repeat the process and make dozens of them for the tourist market. Unfortunately, I have found that reading stuff on the internet when there are so many choices and without the expertise and practical skill, I end up ordering the WRONG THING. This happens not only with products I order from the internet ( just blew about $300 USA on plastic hammock string from Guatemala City, which turned out to be useless crap for agriculture ) but books as well. You actually have to travel and acquire specific knowledge on the subject of your small entrepreneurial investment.

So HOW DO WE GET SKILLED PEOPLE TO BRING THEIR TABLE TOP MACHINERY HERE TO BELIZE ON A 2 YEAR ASSIGNMENT, AS SOME SORT OF TECHNICAL AID TO BUILDING EXPORT BUSINESSES? I would love to trot around European markets looking for such things, then telling our Belize government, who and what, to get sent out here to Belize, paid for by donor country programs for technical aid. You just waste a lot of TIME and MONEY not knowing EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT. Somebody has to go there and identify the things. Sending people abroad doesn´t work, we have at least learned that in Belize.


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