In Honduras, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Eta and Iota storms had disproportionate consequences on the economy of families, especially those headed by women. Accelerating inflation and the scarce supply of jobs add to the challenges they face. In addition, rural women producers face specific barriers that prevent them from forming associations and gaining equal access to credit to start or improve their businesses. In response, CARE, together with USAID and Cargill, is working with people in the most affected areas, to help increase women's leadership in decision-making on the way to inclusive prosperity through the program Futuros Prósperos (in English, Prosperous Futures).
It is a warm Friday morning in Santa Cruz de Yojoa, a small town in the north of the country right on the shore of the only lake in Honduras. At least a hundred people, mostly women, gather in a small place where the festive atmosphere is already felt. Today, more than 114 women entrepreneurs complete their training cycle in Entrepreneurship Skills and Business Model, and also receive a small seed capital to strengthen each of their businesses.
34-year-old Iris Zavala is one of them. While this soft-spoken woman with an easy smile proudly holds in her hands her recently obtained diploma, she recalls: “I always had entrepreneurial material, I just didn't know how to start. I had a small ice cream business that did not give me good results. I worked a lot, but I didn't see the benefits”.
This artisanal ice cream seller - a resident of a small village in the rural area of Santa Cruz de Yojoa, called El Achotal - then joined the business and administration training courses that Futuros Prósperos and its partner, the Centro de Desarrollo Empresarial Valle de Sula (Sula Valley Business Development Center) offer. There she prepared herself to strengthen her innate entrepreneurial skills: "I learned to keep accounts, to make better purchases, to keep inventory and to save to reinvest.
“It was a total change, I started seeing results almost immediately.” Iris turns her gaze to her fifteen-year-old daughter, who wants to be a dentist, and watches her from afar. She smiles at her, knowing that she is now closer to achieving her dreams.
“I do it because I realized that women need to know these things. Because there is room for all of us to prosper and, above all, it is important to organize ourselves, because that is what makes us stronger,”Iris, woman entrepreneur and recipient of a diploma in the Entrepreneurship Skills and Business Model training course.
Ana María Padilla, 37, a resident of Santa Cruz and recent owner of a clothing business and a small grocery store, has a similar story. “There were courses for businesswomen. I wasn't one at that time, but I liked to imagine myself as a businesswoman, so I went.” Ana María is a jovial, determined woman. On her hands, you can see the work and effort she has made for years to help support his family.
Along with business training, Futuros Prósperos makes a strong commitment to the empowerment of women and equal treatment between men and women. Ana María explains, "I come from a family where we women could only dedicate ourselves to the home while the men went out to work. My mother could neither read nor write. I always believed that I needed my husband to do it for me in order to become an entrepreneur."
When Ana María went to her first marketing training, she knew that she was in the right place. "It opened my eyes," she expresses excitedly. "Now, as the owner of my two businesses, my greatest satisfaction is making my mother proud of me".
Both Ana María and Iris are now successful entrepreneurs who share their knowledge and experiences with friends and neighbors in their communities.