“The training gave us new hope”

In the Rural Opportunities project, Swisscontact supports businesspeople from disadvantaged population segments. The following quotes provide glimpses into how they are benefiting from the project, even during the COVID-19 crisis.

Maritza Grande, owner of the Veleros Hotel and Restaurant, Isla de Amapala

“When the pandemic started, we were in a panic. Then we found a way forward. Fortunately, we were able to participate in the virtual training offered by the 'Rural Opportunities' project. These motivated us and gave us the hope and strength to adapt to the new situation, with many changes, of course.”

During lockdowns, Swisscontact organised training for tourism business owners, through which they are able to prepare for a cautious reopening. For example, they have learned how to design and implement adequate protection and prevention systems at their businesses. The training was conducted jointly with the local chamber of commerce, the Honduran Institute of Tourism, and other partners.

Indira Vásquez, owner of Sazón de la Flaka, in Choluteca

“I own a small food store. I always see difficulties as opportunities. When the pandemic started, the city was shut down. On Mother’s Day, I learned of an opportunity to start up a cake delivery service.”

Indira’s is one of the SMEs receiving support from the “Rural Opportunities” project, through Swisscontact’s partner CDE MIPYME (Centro de Desarrollo Empresarial Para La Micro, Pequeña y Mediana Empresa), a centre for SME development. During the lockdown, participating businesses received training in e-commerce, as well as how to use Facebook and other platforms. This has allowed them to adapt to the new business situation.

Mónica Velásquez, a transgender woman and member of two LGBT+ alliances in Honduras

“For the LGBT+ alliance, cooperation with Swisscontact has been a great step forward. For me, it has meant being accepted. I see it as an opportunity to show everyone that we are worthy and entirely capable of working for the betterment of society.”

Members of the LGBT+ community in Honduras suffer severely from discrimination. Project activities are in tune with the needs of this disadvantaged group and aim to improve their economic opportunities.

Read more: Financial inclusion without discrimination

Iris Pérez, a bakery owner in Choluteca

“I participated in a meet-up event for businesswomen and even won a prize for my business pitch. This process has changed my life and advanced me as a businesswoman.” 

The “Rural Opportunities” project helps entrepreneurs transform their ideas into business models. At the meetings, participants received the training and support they need to implement their business models. With a good pitch, they can also win start-up capital, which helps them build up their business.  

Alex Montoya, member of the El Corpus savings bank association in the municipality of El Quebrachal

Employees at a local savings bank last year began a continuing education course in management. Due to the pandemic, this training was held online, different from what had been planned. For most participants, it was the first time they have undergone completely virtual training.

“The online training works. Though it requires some sacrifice, it is also an opportunity. Thanks to this training, I can find solutions to my community’s financial problems and also access the services offered by the savings bank association."

Margarita Ballesteros, owner of the New Generation Educational Center, San Lorenzo

"Thanks to the support from the ‘Rural Opportunities’ project we are better prepared to open our businesses under these conditions.”

Margarita Ballesteros won start-up capital to establish a kindergarten at the meet-up event for businesswomen.