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Name: Joy Godfrey
Business: Ciltrust International Limited
Location: Belize City, Belize
Industry: Financial Services
Reason for starting? With the dream of starting and owning my own business and with my background experience of 9 years in banking, formal training in business and a Masters in international taxation, I decided that I had all that I needed to offer services in different areas of financial services. When the financial industry in Belize started becoming one that the government administration focused on, an opportunity was present.
Starting with just two staff and myself, I started reaching out to professionals in North America at first and then the rest of the world. I wanted to inform people about the financial industry of Belize and about the services of my company at the Citirust International Limited (later changed to CILtrust). I expanded into other complimentary services — international insurance, intellectual property services and management of a law firm, all as a part of the CIL group. We are the oldest and most prominent company in this industry in Belize.
Related: Read about another female entrepreneur finding success in the financial services industry here.
How do you define success? Being able to inspire others, meeting self-development goals as well as enjoying what I do and playing a part in the betterment of our local economy as well as the global economy. Also to enjoy what we do by living the lives we truly want and not just to settling for mediocrity. Always making sure that what I do contributes in some way to others either directly or indirectly.
Biggest success: The start-up of an international bank and a domestic bank here in Belize and being the chairperson and major shareholder for both, employing some 100 persons in the banking industry and providing loans and savings for the small and medium-size businesses locally. It provided jobs, an avenue for financial independence for many, I enjoyed doing it and better myself by learning from the experience.
What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? Gender discrimination. I was the chairperson of a bank where the entire board were all men, much older and more experienced and with big egos. I found working with them and conducting meetings a big challenge. I was ignored, talked down to and treated as though what I said was of lesser value, and at times my presence was ignored. I kept my poise and made sure to gain knowledge in every area that was required for the position and worked closely with the senior management staff, who became my biggest support. Conducted board meetings in the most professional and strict manner, demonstrating knowledge of the majority of the topics and made sure throughout my time as chairperson that the bank was extremely successful.
Related: The Story Exchange on Women and Money
Who is your most important role model? My husband, who was the former attorney general of Belize and a Stanford graduate. After graduating from law school, he started his own practice, which is one of the most inclusive and one of the oldest, most prominent law firms in Belize. He believes in himself and in helping others.
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Edited by The Story Exchange