By William Ysaguirre
Not even Saturday morning’s torrential rains could keep Belizeans away from the annual Expo Marketplace organized by the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
BCCI ticket sales show over 19,000 Belizeans visited the Expo at the Institute for Technical Vocational and Employment Training (ITVET) in Belize City on Saturday and Sunday, September 6-7
They came in search of deals, and no bargain could beat Belize Telemedia’s offer of a cellphone for $9.00 – including a SIM card, when you purchased $33 top-up! The SIM card alone was a $22.00 value EXPO visitors queued up by the hundreds and this throng waited in line several hours to buy one of these $9.00 phones; Telemedia sold over 700 of them, while supplies lasted. The company even posted a sign: “Keep calm – get assistance here.”
For young people on the go checking Facebook and other social media from the smartphones, the next coolest deal was the new cellphone app introduced by Channel Broadcasting Corporation to allow their subscribers to watch television sports channels on their phones, so you never have to miss big game again, no matter where you are.
Farming is one way to adapt to rising sea levels caused by Climate Change, and the Placencia Producers Cooperative Society Ltd is right at the forefront of this cutting edge technology. They are replacing the harvesting of seaweed which grows wild in the sea, by now growing “farmed” seaweed which has a range of uses in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, smoothies and plain old seaweed, the way Belizeans consume it with milk, cinnamon and nutmeg. They dry their product for export but also packaged in consumer-sized parcels for the local market which they offered at the Expo. The Placencia seaweed project is supported by The Nature Conservancy. Also thumping the drum to manage our marine resources sustainably was the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage, who also had a booth at the Expo.
The coop offered free samples of their seaweed smoothies, which could also be flavored with a Belizean rum; a need that Travellers liquors has stepped up to fill with a new product to add to its family of liquors: “Belizean Rum.” Travellers’ aim was to produce a rum with a flavor that can compete with Bacardi, Appleton and other more well-known names; the new rum comes attractively packaged with a choice of labels. The old Paslow Building which was destroyed by fire is now resurrected like a phoenix from the flames on to the Travellers’ Belizean Rum label, by while other bottles are labeled with one of three other different Belizean icons: Xunantunich, the Blue Hole or the jaguar.
The Expo is not a beer fest, but thirsty visitors certainly had their choice of brews: the Belikin brewery was introducing their new bottle, while St Lucia’s Kubuli beer, which had introduced Belizeans to Kubuli Gold last year now had challenger in Presidente Beer, imported by Grace Kennedy Belize Ltd, which also imports Carib Beer from Trinidad, while Karl Menzies Ltd had special offers on Heineken Beer, also produced under license in other CARICOM territories.
Expo visitors also vied for a chance to make some fast cash with the promoters of the new lottery game show: “Make Me Rich!” How long would you hold your hand in freezing cold water and ice to make $500? Belizeans of sterner stuff than this writer happily put their nerves and hands to the test.
With all that money changing hands for this cornucopia of new products and services, security was an important issue; and the Belize police department was out in full force, including the Gang Suppression Unit in their trademark digital camouflage green fatigues.
Entrepreneurs big and small introduced their wares, Ms Donatila Chu displayed her handicrafts and jewelry, while Genis Contreras’ company – Mayan Empire world Ltd displayed their line of jade jewelry.
Others offered personalized Belizean cellphone cases for a range of smartphone models.
Ms Elaine promoted her hot “Tambranero Sauce”, while Bel-Mer Winery offered their line of Belizean wines in a wide assortment of flavors for the more discerning palate.