The main goal of the project, Fostering Financial Sustainability of Oak Foundation Grantees in Belize, was to assist five Oak Foundation grantees to increase their financial sustainability through earned-revenues.
The most prominent challenge in becoming financially sustainable had to do with difficulty finding for Administrative and Operating costs as it is not an expense that is necessarily directed at a specific aspect of their programming, but rather paying the salaries of staff that manage those programs.
These organizations had initiatives in mind for improving their financial sustainability, but they weren't sure whether it would be feasible, what the investment would be, or how long it will take to recover their investment.
As a result of changes in government priorities shifting away from funding NGO environmental initiatives, these organizations were interested in developing social enterprises as a way to further their environmental work. Moreover, it would allow them to reduce their dependency on the government if their focus on the environment wavers. A challenge that remains is developing an understanding of the legal framework for social enterprise development.
The grantees developed the following business ventures:
- TIDE merged its two existing business ventures, TIDE Tours and Ridge to Reef Expeditions, into one new tour company. The merged entity provides synergies for administrative, finance, and operations and creates more efficient systems to grow tour sales.
- BAS developed a business plan for a Cockscomb Jungle Lodge. The lodge will provide a unique visitor experience with ecologically friendly, high-end accommodations in the heart of one of Belize’s premiere reserves – Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Reserve, where currently no private accommodations exist.
- SEA launched the Laughing Bird Caye Gift Shop and Rentals, located on Laughing Bird Caye. The shop sells gifts sourced from local artisans and vendors as well as equipment rentals to tourists visiting the island.
- SATIM developed a business plan for Sastun Ha Purified Water, a water purification service for residents of Punta Gorda Town. The service consists of a water refilling station at SATIM’s office using either reverse osmosis or water kiosks.
- UBERI developed two business plans. One business plan is to offer training and consultancy services to organizations in the areas of ecology and tour guide, strategic planning, conflict resolution, data analysis, organizational sustainability and human-wildlife conflict management. The other business is to increase the number of visitors (and revenues) at the Calabash Caye Field Station.