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Escaping poverty through knowledge
Background – In spite of the growing economy, around half of all Nicaraguans remain poor and a quarter of them are classed as extremely poor (these people are earning less than 1$ a day). In the countryside, an even greater proportion of the population is living in poverty. Jobs are rare and many people try to make ends meet by setting themselves up as small entrepreneurs, but even these people struggle to scratch a living. One reason for their plight is their lack of expertise in exploiting market opportunities and implementing proper production methods, as well as their general lack of business administration skills. Nevertheless, these small enterprises are the most important employers and, for many people, they represent their only chance of securing an income. Given this state of affairs, the PYMERURAL project in Honduras and Nicaragua is attempting to improve the conditions in which these small enterprises are operating.
Project – If economically active poor people are to improve their standard of living, they will need one thing more than any other: knowledge. They must learn to allocate their modest resources efficiently, identify the market demand and also improve the quality of their produce. Such knowledge is now being passed on to them by consultants and through further education courses. It is here that Swisscontact’s PYMERURAL project comes into play. Course operators and SME consultants are receiving help to enable them to match their performance more closely with the needs of the small enterprises.
Apicultural products (not only honey), vegetables, tourism and the traditional Central American pastry called rosquillas are the sectors with the biggest potential. Swisscontact supports entrepreneurs, especially women in these parts of the economy. In Nicaragua the Rosquilla bakeries, which have received advice and further education had grown from an average of three to eight employees. The overwhelming majority of these firms are managed by women and the majority of the workforce is also female. As they increase the income of their families, so these entrepreneurs and employees are raising the standing of women in the male-dominated Nicaraguan society. Both the consultants and those who consult them are reaping the benefits of the project, since growing enterprises are continuing to rely on well-informed suggestions and are now also able to pay for them. For more than a few families, each profitable firm means a life without poverty.
Main partner of this project
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC
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