Edited by Léo-Paul Dana
10. Mennonite entrepreneurship in Belize Carel Roessingh and Karen Smits INTRODUCTION While economic integration is expanding over the world, its influence appears to be less remarkable on ethnic communities. Entrepreneurs in ethnic communities tend to remain untouched by most developments in the outside world. Aldrich and Waldinger (1990) believe that an ethnic enterprise is a set of connections and regular patterns of interaction among people who share a common background or migratory experiences. In this chapter we will focus on an Anabaptist group, the Mennonites of Blue Creek in Northern Belize. Because of their common religious belief and shared migration history the entrepreneurs in this community can be described as ‘ethnic entrepreneurs’. The Mennonites in Belize can be easily distinguished from their non-Mennonite neighbors by their religion, their appearance (not only their white phenotypic characteristics but also their way of dressing), their language (Low-German) and their way of living. Being born and raised in a Mennonite environment makes the individual part of a strict community, in which almost every aspect of life, from the naming of children, to the use of modern technology, to personal appearance and lifestyle, is regulated (Plasil and Roessingh, 2006). From its early beginnings the Anabaptist movement enclosed significant differentiations concerning religious principles, ideas and opinions (Urry, 1989). Segregations like the Amish, Brethren, Hutterites and Mennonites derived from this movement and spread out over the world. The Anabaptists live according to their religious beliefs, in communities that are alienated from society. However, as a result of...
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