Sustainable entrepreneurship for communities of African descent

Entrepreneurial ecosystems, Upskilling and reskilling
01.08.2022
The Garífuna people are one of the largest ethnic minorities in Honduras, descending from the African-Carib populations from the Caribbean island of St Vincent. Unemployment rates are high among the Garífuna, most of whom live on the Atlantic coast. Since 2020, Swisscontact has been working with the Ethnic Community Development Organisation (ODECO) to promote entrepreneurship as a viable economic endeavour for this community.

Alejandra Batiz and Alison Chávez are two Garífuna women who participated in these initiatives focused on strengthening business plans and access to inputs for their small businesses. In this way, they improved production and increased their income.

A sales increase of 300%

Alejandra Batiz started the business “Power Juice” with just 100 lempiras (CHF 4). She sold horchatas – plant-based beverages – in plastic bags and steadily grew her business.

Alejandra had the idea to start a business in high school. First, she sold to her relatives and neighbours. After she participated in a fair, real business opportunities opened up; she needed to learn more about how to develop a business plan and run a business. To be able to make a profit, she increased her prices: "I was only earning one lempira (CHF 0.039) for each bottle, so I went up from 15 to 25 lempiras (CHF 0.98) per bottle. The customers didn't mind because my product is tasty."

Power Juice was recognised as having the best business plan, thanks to which she was awarded a fridge and a blender. This equipment allowed her to increase sales: "The kit gave me a big boost. Before, I could not sell more because I could not refrigerate the drinks, having to offer warm beverages."

Alejandra Batiz won an award for her business "Power Juice".

Keeping the roots alive

Alison Chávez participated in a six-month entrepreneurship training course as part of the ProJoven programme.

In 2016 when Alison Chávez was still in high school, she had the idea of selling t-shirts with phrases from the Garífuna culture. Two years later, she started her business called Raíces Hn selling t-shirts with designs based on her culture.

She continues to grow the business using her knowledge gained from her degree in business administration:

"At the beginning, I didn't know whether to realise my dream or finish my studies, but there is nothing better than studying the field in which I work. This way we, keep our cultural elements alive". 

Alison began a six-month training course in entrepreneurship, which helped to further her vision of promoting her ancestral culture.

Her sister Kristhel, who is also involved in the enterprise and participated in the course, appreciated learning about strategies to find new customers and develop a variety of products, thus increasing sales.

Thanks to the programme, Alison got a computer that made the design and promotional process more efficient: "Young people are leaving their communities, leading to the Garífuna language being endangered. With our T-shirts, they can stay connected to our culture."

"With the business plan, I learned about the cost of each product and the market segments. It also empowered me to deal with discrimination, some people see this as insignificant, but we know that we are going to grow."
Alison Chávez

The ProJoven programme is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and implemented by Swisscontact. To increase the reach of our actions and make a sustainable impact, we work with civil society organisations such as ODECO, which is focused on fighting for the integral development of Afro-Honduran communities and contributing to the dignity for women and men of African descent in Honduras.

Honduras
Initial vocational education and training, Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Professional training for young people (Projoven)
The population of Honduras suffers from poverty, violence, corruption and unemployment. According to the National Statistics Institute of Honduras (INE), the unemployment rate is slightly over 7%; however, if the under-employment rate is added to this, it surpasses 40%, with young people comprising the largest group of unemployed. Furthermore, this...