chapter  13
Mennonite Community-Based Entrepreneurship in Belize, Central America: Carel Roessingh
Pages 12

Belize is a small multiethnic nation located in Central America with 300,000 inhabitants (Belizean Government, 2007). Since 1958 there have been several Mennonite settlements in this country. As a particularly religious community, the entrepreneurial activities of these Mennonites provide an interesting fi eld of study when it comes to the ways in which they organize their community-based enterprises within the specifi c societal context. This chapter addresses the social capital of the Mennonites of Springfi eld in the Cayo District in Belize. The Mennonites have their origins in the Anabaptist wing of the Protestant Reformation in Western Europe during the fi rst half of the 16th century (Hedberg, 2007; Redekop, 1989; Roessingh & Plasil, 2009). Both culturally and with regard to their religion, the Mennonites are primarily inward focused. They have their own schools and speak a language called ‘Low German’ (Hedberg, 2007; Loewen, 1993; Roessingh & Plasil, 2006). Contrary to the fact that most Mennonites live more or less on the edges of society, they have nonetheless been able to establish a strong and stable economic position within Belize. For instance, since their migration from Mexico to Belize in 1958, the more modern settlements have transformed into a more complex economic system with commercial agriculture and agribusiness (Loewen, 2006; Sawatzky, 1971). Simultaneously, the Mennonites in small conservative settlements, such as Springfi eld, live in very isolated areas and depend on subsistence agriculture, logging, and small-scale craftsmanship (Roessingh & Plasil, 2009). In Belize, the Mennonites represent reliability and, for that reason, Belizeans like to do business with them (Roessingh & Schoonderwoerd, 2005). The same applies to the Springfi eld Mennonites, who rely on their communitybased entrepreneurship. For instance, more and more restaurant owners in the Cayo District buy their groceries in Springfi eld. The way these Mennonites produce their crops symbolizes eco-horticulture.