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Thriving at home: Creating an entrepreneurship hub for the western region of Guatemala, as an alternative to migration

We will create opportunities to build a better future at home, for people not to have to leave their families and communities.

Photo of Ana Lucia Blas

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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Between one and two million Guatemalans live in the United States. Also, one in four Guatemalans say they intend to emigrate to another country. This, despite the risks found in the route, such as organized crime, kidnappings, human trafficking and abuse by authorities. The lack of job opportunities and unfulfilled income expectations force people to look for opportunities outside their country. The entrepreneurship hub for the western region of Guatemala will provide training and microcredits, empowering people to launch successful startups. This way, it will contribute not only to the economic growth of the region, but also, to give people an opportunity to thrive at home, become employers, build a better future for their families, and contribute to the development of their communities. These conditions will also impact the solidarity that these communities can offer to other migrants, as these departments are a transit zone towards the Mexican border. Our planned activities are: • To create an Innovation Hub to help develop the entrepreneurship ecosystem for the western region of Guatemala. • Train, empower, launch and follow-up at least 200 new startups (100 per year) in the western region of Guatemala, using the lean startup methodology, in order to launch new high impact enterprises to help the local economic growth and create new jobs based on innovation and technology. In particular, the participation of young people and women will be encouraged. • Follow-up and mentorship to provide participants with additional resources, contacts, financing and other types of opportunities to help them gain the needed traction as new businesses. • Grant microcredits for startups and enterprises, including accompaniment and technical assistance.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

The entrepreneurship hub will be located in Huehuetenango department in the western region of Guatemala. Departments in that area, especially those on the border with Mexico (Quetzaltenango, San Marcos, Huehuetenango) expel a large number of migrants: about 10 – 15% of their population. They are also the largest recipients of remittances in the country.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

The entrepreneurship hub in Huehuetenango will impact nearby departments, especially those in the border with Mexico. This will not only allow people to have an alternative to not be forced to migrate, but also give hope and opportunities to those who have been forced to return to Guatemala. Also, these departments are on the route of other countries migrants heading to the US through Mexico. A more prosperous region can offer opportunities and provide solidarity to those who transit it.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

According to official data, 59.3% of Guatemalans is in poverty - 23.4% in extreme poverty—. The lack of job opportunities and unfulfilled income expectations force young people to left everything behind and look for opportunities outside their country. For many young people, emigrating to the USA is considered “a dream”. One in four Guatemalans say they intend to emigrate, despite the risks found in the route, such as organized crime, kidnappings, human trafficking and abuse by authorities. The entrepreneurship hub will empower people and give them an opportunity to thrive at home, become employers, build a better future for their families, and contribute to the development of their communities. These conditions will also impact the self-steem of people, as well as the solidarity that they can offer to other migrants, as these departments are a transit zone towards the Mexican border.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Entrepreneurship is a source of innovation and change, and as such, spurs improvements in productivity and economic competitiveness. It is a source of job opportunities, helping uplift the community’s economy through increasing the quality of life and overall standard of living. The changes expected are: Creation of new business, jobs, and outsourcing and teleworking that help youngsters stay in their communities; creation of economic zones that help the municipality bring better security conditions for the community; creation of new and very needed training and education options; creation of opportunities for minorities (women, seniors, indigenous people and youngsters); improvement in communication of the community with others via networks and social media. In general, economic growth, better quality of life and alternatives for people to stay and build a better future at home. An empowered, supportive community, capable of thriving and achieving its fulfillment.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

Guatemala needs projects that promote economic growth and give opportunities to curb the flow of people leaving for the US. The country is rapidly becoming a hub for entrepreneurs that help with the generation of employment for the economic development of the country. There are many cases of “hubs” (locations where entrepreneurs and innovators receive help and resources) all over the country. The project will be based on the experience of Campus Tec Guatemala, often called the “Silicon Valley” of Guatemala that has also been replicated in Jalapa department (GoHub).

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

In Huehuetenango, 60.5% of the population is in poverty. The population is mainly composed of women (due in part to the high migration of men) and young people. The economy of Huehuetenango is based on agricultural, livestock, artisanal, and commercial activities. The main products are corn and beans. However, this production is for self-consumption, and only a small part is sold in the local market. 38% of the economically active population works on their own. Also, Huehuetenango is among the departments that expel a large proportion of its population: about 10 – 15%, and it's a large recipient of remittances.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

The entrepreneurship hub will be a collaborative space where participants share benefits: spaces, contacts, mentoring, and especially, the possibility of collaborating and supporting local entrepreneurs. The dynamics in these communities occur under the concept of cooperative work or coworking, which allows entrepreneurs to share a workspace, both physical and virtual, to develop projects, businesses, and activities, but also share resources, skills, contacts, networks, offices, and equipment. Through this methodology, the community itself is empowered to continue feeding other entrepreneurs, once the project is completed. With the effective use of contact networks, as well as the mentoring and monitoring offered in the project, entrepreneurs will gain access to national and global networks and markets.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

- Génesis Empresarial Foundation, a Guatemalan nonprofit foundation specialized in economic and social development, will grant microcredit for sucessful startups.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Leaving a community of origin

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Systems design: Solutions that target changing larger system

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Blueprint: We are exploring the idea and gathering the inspiration and information we need to test it with real users.

Group or Organization Name

Asociación de Investigación y Estudios Sociales (ASIES)

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

ASIES is a private, non-profit think tank. It was founded in 1979. Its mission is to strengthen democratic rule according to a higher law and integral development in Guatemala by means of research and policymaking. Its purpose is to promote and foster the investigation, study and interpretation of national and international problems, in order to propose solutions addressed to the promotion of a democratic, pluralistic and just coexistence. It has published more than 700 research works in various areas, including economics, labour and migration. These studies show the need for opportunities and alternatives for the full development of Guatemalan people. The coordinator for this project, María Zaghi, was responsible for the commercialization hub that was a “spin-off” of the first technology park in Central America, Campus TEC, that is now in charge of technology commercialization and business development for over 1000 companies in North Central America.

Website URL:

www.asies.org.gt

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country

10 calle, 7-48 zona 9, Guatemala, Guatemala

Organization Headquarters: City / State

Guatemala, Guatemala

12 comments

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Photo of Zulfiqar  Deo
Team

Ana Lucia Blas Thanks for posting your project. I think its a great idea and look forward to seeing you succeed in this. There is a lot of digital platforms offering educations as well - at affordable rates. This may be useful to your members as well. https://www.edx.org/ is one platform.

It is also really good to see you using entrepreneurship as a mechanism to help people take ownership of their own lives. This way they get to create jobs for others in the region as well as generating wealth for themselves.

Have a look at our project Business financing for refugee entrepreneurs  and let me know what you think - happy to knowledge share as much as possible.

Photo of Ana Lucia Blas
Team

Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing information.

Photo of Zulfiqar  Deo
Team

Hope they help :)

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