Call to forge ties to develop services
A local businessman sees unparalleled opportunities for Bermudians to develop business links with partners far to our south.
Consultant Leon O'Brien has broader hopes for the community to use overseas connections to develop services on the Island, as well as providing marginalised young men with education and work experience in other countries.
“We Bermudians have the skill sets and the knowledge to easily embrace Belize,” said Mr O'Brien, who is opening a new business in Hamilton aimed at boosting entrepreneurship.
Consultancy Group on Union Street, which formally opens early next month, was inspired by “the concerns of people trying to engage in business, and people saying there is no hope in this part of the community”, he said.
“We have people who have successfully completed university and can't do anything back here. We in Bermuda traditionally look at the United States as our major partner. We have to look at other countries to expand our intellectual properties and serve our needs.”
Mr O'Brien wants Bermudians to take advantage of their membership in the Caribbean Community (Caricom) to take up work opportunities in Belize, also a member, with a view to bringing the fruits of their labours back home.
“We get cabinets made in Canada and we ship in doors from the US, with no manufacturing done by ourselves — what about giving Bermudian workers the opportunity to live in other countries and bring products?
“Belize is almost 9,000 square miles and has a population of 340,000 people, 60 per cent of them under 20 years old, English speaking, with laws similar to ours.”
Mr O'Brien said he was hoping that Bermuda, with a new airport terminal planned, could develop itself as a stop for flights leading to the tiny Central American country, formerly a British colony.
From his consultancy, which lies in the Economic Empowerment Zone of Northeast Hamilton, he will offer a site for entrepreneurs to base mailboxes and use conference rooms, encouraging Belizean tie-ins in the process.
“We are all about channelling the energy and ideas into doing things that don't exist now in Bermuda, and giving people hope for business outside Bermuda that we can ship back to the Island.”
As well as cheap medical tourism and accommodation for seniors unable to afford Bermuda's costs, Mr O'Brien also sees hope for Belize as playing a role in the Island's social ills, including gang-related gun violence.
“A person could get a high school education there for $1,000 a year with accommodation under $2,000, which is a tremendous break — there are technical schools there for people who want to get a vocational education. We have so many people who can't travel to the US or Canada and can't afford the expensive of going to Europe or England.”