Empodera: a project to achieve women's economic autonomy and equality in Guatemala 

Upskilling and Reskilling, Entrepreneurial ecosystems, Labour market insertion
Through the Empodera project, Swisscontact aims to improve the living conditions of indigenous youth and women by promoting opportunities for vocational education and job placement. This is a vulnerable population because employment is scarce and they have little access to training and access to the labour market. Swisscontact supports the employability and entrepreneurship of young men and women, enabling them to increase their income. 

This project offers coaching services as well as seed capital for entrepreneurs with a substantial focus on self-employment. In addition, it addresses awareness and education on sexual and reproductive rights, equality and equity, contributing to the prevention of various types of violence that prevent people from developing fully both personally and professionally.

Vocational education and training, the doorway to the world of work 

The department of Alta Verapaz is particularly affected by extreme poverty. The mobile training units have been the key in facilitating access to vocational technical training for indigenous youth and women from rural and peri-urban areas in Alta Verapaz. These mobile units bring all the materials and equipment needed, even the instructor. The training includes courses in gastronomy, confectionery, automobile and motorcycle mechanics, sales, customer service, tourism, carpentry, and electricity. It lasts between 40 and 80 hours and takes place in the communities where the young men and women reside.

"In the training for basic maintenance of Tuc Tucs – similar to a motorcycle – , they gave us the idea that we could organise ourselves and be able to open our own workshop, provide services and generate more jobs in the municipality. Because few women learn this trade, we made our community understand that we can do it."
Rosa Caal, basic mechanics student of Tuc Tuc maintenance

Bringing the supply and demand together is key to job placement

Empodera works with the private and public sectors to change the lives of the youth and women of Guatemala. The coaching service for employability and entrepreneurship, as well as the "Employment Kiosks", are two services that have facilitated the inclusion of indigenous youth and women in the job market. These services are provided by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, the business sector of Alta Verapaz, training centres, and local organisations, with the support of the Empodera project.

Employment services to improve access to the labour market

The coach counsellors offer accompaniment, guidance, and support, provide information and facilitate strategic alliances between companies, training centres, and universities, and look for other opportunities that can help the young people with their job search through workshops, awareness raising and information gathering.

Together with the Ministry of Labour, through the National Public Employment Network, facilitated monthly events called "Employment Kiosks". These are mobile fairs that are held in the municipalities of Alta Verapaz, where the different companies are invited to publish their labour demands and, also, give the young people and women from the municipality the opportunity to present their professional offers. This meeting point between the supply and demand sides increases the chances of obtaining a job.

"We believe this project is innovative and we are very grateful because the alliance between Swisscontact and The People Company has been very positive and sometimes we find it hard to believe that organisations will actually support private companies."
Telma Chiquínregional coordinator of Human Resources of The People Company

Entrepreneurship and financial education to increase income

Certified barista and expert coffee taster

Self-employment initiatives have been a great opportunity for indigenous youth and women in rural and peri-urban areas, especially where there are yet no businesses to provide employment opportunities to this target group. The young graduates of vocational education and training receive advice and business support to build their business models, which allows them to generate income in the short term. Thanks to the seed capital, they are able to make a start on their self-employment. The entrepreneurial activities comprise occupations such as home electrician, basic car maintenance, motorcycle and motorcycle taxi repair, snack and fast-food preparation, party decorations, sewing, weaving, family gardens, poultry production, and beekeeping. 

"We have participated in different courses such as pattern making, dyeing, cutting and sewing, and we have also had access to seed capital and business advice, so we are very encouraged to deliver a finished product."
Ligia Tun, “Batz” Association of Weavers and Artisans

Sexual and reproductive health, violence prevention and economic autonomy

The Wank Sa'tuqtuukilal, “Let's Live in Harmony” campaign has been a mass communication strategy for raising awareness among indigenous men, women, and youth, about their sexual and reproductive rights, as well as for the prevention of violence.

Empodera TV provides distance learning for thousands of young people

The campaign uses the most inclusive communication channels such as social networks, radio, local TV, and posters, as well as raising awareness among peers through young influencers who want to generate a positive change in their communities by replicating what they have learned and educating other youth groups.

"Together with Swisscontact, we want to empower women and improve their quality of life so that they can continue to have a productive life. We held events for exchange, developed an application for mobile devices, and produced television and radio programmes in the three regional languages; all of this was done under the technical methodology of the Alta Verapaz Health Area Directorate."
Eugenia Chacón, coordinator of the Mental Health Unit

Video: Improving the living conditions of young people in the department of Alta Verapaz (in Spanish with English subtitles)

The Empodera project is financed by the Swedish Agency for International Cooperation (SIDA) and implemented by Swisscontact.

Sustainable tourism, Labour market insertion
Economic Empowerment of Indigenous Youth and Women 

The Project will improve the living conditions of indigenous men and women between the ages of 15 and 35 years, so that they can increase their income and improve their capabilities as well as improving the current conditions for autonomous decision-making; gaining access to professional technical education and market insertion opportunities; it...