I am here at Ambergris Caye, which is so different from the rest of Belize. Ambergris Caye is so much busier and some things here are more advanced, I believe. The business culture is everybody is an entrepreneur, everybody is a globetrotter and everybody is starting new things. As I was just walking into town, I saw that there’s a new scooter rental company going up, which is great. We don't have one here on the island and someone saw the opportunity, managed to import those scooters, bought the license and they'll be renting out scooters.
There are lots of businesses that need taking over and a bit of TLC to bring them up. There are lots of restaurants, so if you are a restaurateur, it may not be the best idea to try to set up a new one, but perhaps to renovate an old one.
The business culture here is hard working. People also looking for that bargain, for example, to buy a condo until somebody decided the lease wasn't for them, very cheaply. It's mostly retirees, or young entrepreneurs who come here.
There is no mañana culture here like there is in other Latin American countries. Everybody works very hard within their working hours, depending on their roles. If they have an administrative role and the business opens at eight, they’re there at eight. If they have an hour lunch, they will take it. The local people are very conscientious, very hard working. I've never actually been amongst a harder working group of people.
You do have to find ways in working effectively with laborers. For example, you don’t pay them by the hour; you pay them by the work that they do, and even still, sometimes that is tricky. You do have to be on top making sure that they do come.
If it rains, everybody is going to be late for work. It's because where they have to come from. They have a very good work ethic here. People do work hard. The culture is very entrepreneurial.
Locals will try and refer you to go to do something, as part of a payback system. The local person refers to someone at the dive shop or the restaurant owner, who may well give the referrer something for doing so. It's a bit of "I'll scratch your back, you'll scratch mine." There’s a bit of a barter system as well going on.
None of this is to say that the business culture is nasty. As a point of contrast, I recently went to Mexico and I just felt harassed. The hustlers were really hustling and shouting out "Come in, come in!”, “What, you don’t like me?”, and so forth, and trying to make me feel really bad. I am very English, so that sort of thing doesn't fly with me at all; I just get nervous and walk quicker.
This is in contrast to here in Belize, where you do get the vendors and people trying to take you somewhere or do something for you or sell you something, but its done so very nicely in a laid-back Caribbean way. Rather than getting insistent, they will say “Alright then, no worries."
If you were to set up a business where there was an office mentality such as a dentist or doctor’s office, everybody will be there on time, they work their hardest whilst they’re there, they always go on time and arrive on time there, but you don't get much extra.