Despite the political uncertainty surrounding the fate of the ZEDEs, Hondurans still see Morazán as an opportunity to better their lives. That’s why residents continue to move in and businesses continue to form. A recently started enterprise is Tienda Juliette, a family-run pulpería or minimarket.
Helen Quintanilla has been a resident of Ciudad Morazán for eight months. She lives in a two-bedroom house with her father, Luis, her mother, Mariana, and her five-year-old daughter, Juliette.
Helen and Luis
Helen noticed that the pulpería down the street was not serving the community very well. The first minimarket in Ciudad Morazán had limited business hours, few product offerings, and high premiums. After noticing this space for improvement, Helen thought she could offer better services to the community.
She wouldn’t have to worry about the extortion that business owners normally face in Honduras because of the safety inside Ciudad Morazán, but she would still have to raise money for inventory and find out what she would have to do to start a business out of her home.
Because of Ciudad Morazán’s permissive zoning laws, high economic freedom, and encouragement of entrepreneurship, Helen didn’t have to spend the time or money it would normally take to start a small business in Honduras. She was able to raise the money for her beginning inventory from a neighbor and started her business in hours.
She named her store Tienda Juliette after her daughter. Only weeks later, business was booming! Like other businesses in Ciudad Morazán, Tienda Juliette accepts eLPS, a lempira-based stablecoin, as well as lempira. In crypto payments alone, the minimarket has received enough revenue to cover its costs and expand its product line!
Now, a few months later, Helen has become a leader in the community. For Mother’s and Father’s Day in Honduras on June 4th, she hosted a community get-together around the corner from her store.
Father’s day 2023 at Ciudad Morazán
While this story may seem trivial to some, it’s important to remember that legally opening a business in Choloma (where Ciudad Morazán is located) is an expensive and time-consuming process. An entity type would have to be selected, municipal fees would have to be paid, zoning laws would have to be complied with, and goods would have to have a 15% value-added tax.
These unnecessary restrictions make it hard for Hondurans to open a legally compliant business and improve their circumstances. In addition, there is a high risk of extortion by local gangs. Fortunately, ZEDEs are helping people to experience a better way.
Some critics refer to Free Cities as tax havens or imagine them as pricey getaways for the rich, but the reality is very different. The superior governance at a lower cost which voluntary, contractual jurisdictions bring can make a huge difference in the lives of ordinary people. Helen Quintanilla is just one example.