Highlights 2021 in Latin America

In this section, we share highlights of our work in skills development, employment, gender, inclusive markets, environment, private sector support and sustainable agriculture.
Claudia Esperanza Cruz, returning migrant from the USA, certified in cooking, project Gene-Sis de Nuevas Oportunidades, El Salvador

Capacity building: a workforce prepared to respond to the demands of the region's labour market

In Guatemala in 2021, we started with a new phase of the New Opportunities - Professional Reintegration of Returned Migrants project and we launched Gene-Sis of New Opportunities in El Salvador (European Union funds), with a placed-based approach and early attention for the returned migrant population. These two projects focus on strengthening services at the municipal level, psychosocial care and certification as a way to enter the labour market; strengthening soft skills, financial education for returned migrants and training in upskilling and reskilling. Thanks to public-private partnerships, it was possible to develop regulatory frameworks and policies for the certification of competencies and continuous training for the labour market.

Education, training and access to employment are key to developing a skilled workforce and reducing the inequalities faced by young people in Latin America. The EMPODERA project, financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), supported the empowerment and development of indigenous women and youth through  the launch of a virtual training programme, awareness-raising sessions  on reducing gender violence and sexual and reproductive health, and the virtual platform My vocation, My profession, for vocational and job coaching for young people, mobile technical training units in rural areas, and the improvement of learning environments to achieve quality education.

Thanks to the public-private partnerships generated within the framework of the INNOVA project, financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC, it was possible to design technical training and human capital certification contents and services tailored to the requirements of the private sector as a means for the insertion and labour mobility of young people.

In Nicaragua, we launched the virtual platform Gestión de Emprendimientos Competitivos (GEC) as part of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC's Skills Development Programme to Increase Employability of Youth  ; an e-learning model that allows, in an agile and fast way, the replicability of its contents in different countries and contexts. Thus, we strengthened entrepreneurship management and the development of professional training processes for self-employment, achieving greater resilience in the face of crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, thanks to funding from the Hilti Foundation, we promoted safe construction through the Promotion of Safe, Sound and Sustainable Construction Practices in Vulnerable Urban Areas project, thanks to alliances with public and private institutions (CAPECO Institute and SENCICO), we achieved the digitalisation of training for master builders, which added to face-to-face training and  reached a greater number of people. We also launched an awareness kit for families who build, with an online implementation guide and digital information resources, increasing awareness of the importance of safe housing in areas of high seismic risk.

The 2021 administration marked the full implementation of the Professional technical training Bolivia project (financed by COSUDE) in 76 public and private training centres  in Bolivia, through  which work was carried out on improvement plans focused on institutional management, technical-pedagogical areas, infrastructure and equipment for 172 technical careers and labour linkages. Among the most outstanding results, 12,575 people graduated from technical careers, 3,741 young people benefited from internships, along with the implementation of biosafety measures and incentives to prevent participants from dropping out.

The ProJoven programme, with funds from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), strengthened partnerships with municipalities and civil society organis ations that coordinate projects with youth populations, bringing technical training to more young people in Honduras. The project also established a strategy to support entrepreneurship for young people in training by providing seed capital and support for viable business ideas. Under a psychosocial care model, the programme applies an approach based on an experiential learning cycle, which ensures the practice-theory relationship, the valuation of experiences, collective work, respect and empowerment of experiences and the facilitating role of the trainer; considering the young people with their characteristics, potential and difficulties in their territories and their community environment (family, neighbourhood and community). 

Speciality coffee cupping. Project Progresa, Honduras.

Alliances with the private sector: access to international markets for producers and alliances with the private and public sectors in Honduras, Colombia and Peru

In the Progresa project, financed by the European Union in Honduras, we worked with exporting companies to improve on-farm productivity, the quality of post-harvest processes and compliance with social and environmental standards (organic production) for market access of coffee, cocoa and cashew nuts produced by small-scale producers. These alliances enabled producers to obtain better sales prices. Some producers obtained top marks in international specialty coffee competitions. Young people from the cooperatives were trained in quality management, cupping and roasting, thus developing key skills to improve the competitiveness of their businesses. 

During 2021, the Café Inclusivo project, financed by the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, COSUDE, strengthened access to international markets in the United States and Korea, with participation in the Coffee Expo in New Orleans and the Coffee Show in Seoul, which generated 42 potential new business contacts for export. At the same time, Café Inclusivo developed training programmes in coffee price risk management, the development of export plans, social media, and professional skills in the sector, certified by the Specialty Coffee Association.

Exportations have been a key factor in the sustainable revival of the economy in the post-pandemic period. To boost their growth and diversification, the Swiss Export Promotion Program SIPPO, with funding from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), continued to strengthen the trade capacities of Business Support Organisations (BSOs) in Colombia and Peru.  During 2021, SIPPO launched the Online Export Promotion Academy and supported participation in national and international trade fairs and business rounds. SIPPO also supported the construction of the Export Strategy for Exotic Fruits to Switzerland and Europe, the construction of the Story Telling and catalogue  of Natural Ingredients and the Cocoa Network Export Unit. During the year, SIPPO trained more than 2315 people, including BSO officials and entrepreneurs.

Electric bus fleet charge. Project Calac+, Chile. 

Environment: healthier and low-emission cities thanks to the promotion of environmental policies and green businesses in Bolivia, Chile, Mexico, Colombia and Peru

The Climate and Clean Air in Latin American Cities CALAC+ project, financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC, contributed to generate the conditions for the formulation of public policies to reduce polluting emissions in public transportation systems and construction machinery. In 2021, we developed four tools to transform technical information into practical inputs for the definition of public policy strategies based on costs and benefits for short-, medium- and long-term decision making. More than 100 decision makers from the governments of Bogota, Lima, Mexico and Santiago de Chile are using these tools.

Through the Markets for Recycling project of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC in Bolivia, we promoted, together with local actors, the creation and launch of the App "Yo Reciclo Bolivia" (I recycle Bolivia). Thanks to this, 112 recyclers and nine green businesses in the city of Santa Cruz collect waste more efficiently, through direct access to homes, businesses or institutions, increasing the amount collected and increasing income. In addition, associations of informal waste collectors were supported with a revolving fund for the purchase of electric vehicles, a great help in transporting waste more efficiently.

Producers from the municipalities of Jesús de Machaca and San Pedro de Tana signed a Cañahua supply agreement with Granja Samini, 2021. Project Resilient Patrimony of Andes, Cañahua and Tarwi.

Sustainable agriculture: reduced carbon footprint, improved market access, increased food security and resilient livelihoods through agroforestry systems

Through the Colombia Más Competitiva (C+C) programme, with funding from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), we reconcile the territorial vision of landscapes with the market vision of value chains to develop competitive chains that are environmentally and socially responsible. In the natural ingredients value chain, we focus our research and development initiatives on the production of innovative bioproducts in response to market trends for sustainable, healthy and functional products. We also supported the consolidation of an offer of specialty coffees recognised for their origin, with models for improving environmental performance (water and carbon footprint) and social performance (community development, gender equity and inclusion of young people) as market enablers. Consolidate a consistent supply of specialty coffees in terms of quality and availability through the strengthening of regional infrastructures, development of logistic models, consolidation of financing models and commercial strategies.

The Colombian Specialty Cocoa for the Swiss Sustainable Market project in Colombia created a knowledge management system for the sustainable cocoa value chain with the participation of committed companies and producer organisations , as well as virtual workshops and the preparation of tools and guides. The project provided training on organic agricultural practices and post-harvest processes for the production of fine and aromatic cocoa.

The empowerment of women producers and marketers is a fundamental pillar for achieving inclusive economic development in Honduras. Through the Rural Opportunities project, financed by Global Affairs Canada, we helped to identify gaps and generate gender and social inclusion strategies by working together with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in the cashew, fruit and dairy production chains. In addition, women producers, processors, and entrepreneurs gained access to agricultural technology to reduce their workload and training to improve their production. The project promoted gender-smart financing and capital mobilisation to develop sustainable women-led businesses.

To address global warming and climate change in Bolivia, the Inclusive Markets project (funds from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) supported forest preservation and afforestation or reforestation programs, working hand in hand with local stakeholders, strengthening the college of forestry engineers, and with monitoring actions, irrigation techniques and hydrogel substrates. In the same country, the project Resilient Patrimony of Andes, Cañahua and Tarwi, financed by the EUROCLIMA Programme, was completed, having benefited more than 1,650 families and positioning a mixed approach between the technical and the ancestral, with an inclusive market system approach. This project increased resilience to the effects of climate change by strengthening sustainable livelihoods and positioning Andean ancestral products, encouraging consumption and supporting policies at the national and subnational levels.