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 will also the promote sustainable entrepreneurship and financial inclusion, as well as the empowerment of women.The department of Alta Verapaz is located in the north of the Republic of Guatemala. It has a total population of 1.3 million people, 50% are women and 50% men; the population is mainly indigenous (94%) and most of them belong to the Q'eqchí and Pocomchí ethnic groups; likewise, 77% reside mainly in the rural area and only 23% of the population lives in urban areas (INE, 2016). The department of Alta Verapaz has the highest indicator of extreme poverty at 53.6% and total poverty level of 83.1%. Instead of improving, as of 2014 (ENCOVI 2016) poverty has increased by 4.3%, making it the poorest department nationwide. When talking about the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), Alta Verapaz has the highest index in the country, at 0.529, meaning it has the least access to health, education and minimum quality of life conditions such as housing, electricity, sanitation, drinking water and other necessities.
On the subject of reproductive sexual health, the data is alarming:
According to the reflected indicators of the MSPAS (INE, SEGEPLAN, 2017), the fertility rate is 2.8 children per woman, maternity in adolescents (15 to 19 years) is 7% and there is  total of 11,605 cases of young mothers from ages 10 to 19.
Project duration
2018 - 2023
Financed by
  • Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)

The project

The project will help improve the life of women and young people by helping them increase their income in two ways: First is by generating jobs for young people who will have access to technical and professional training. The second is through the development of new business ventures, the improvement of existing business ventures and encouraging young people in technical and professional training to generate self-employment ventures. Finally, women’s participation across the whole process will be encouraged by developing a massive education and awareness process.

This will be achieved by working on three components (systemic effects): i) Improvement of professional technical training and job placement; ii) Promotion of sustainable entrepreneurship and financial inclusion; iii) Empowerment of women (sexual and reproductive health, violence prevention, and care economy) trying to work with 3 transversal lines simultaneously: i) gender, ii) environment and iii) governance and conflict management.

The work strategies foresee coordinating with public and private actors at the micro (municipal) level; meso (departmental) and macro level (national and international). The approach is taken on by the actors of the market systems (public and private), generating innovations in the economic and social spheres. The project will intervene in 12 municipalities in 3 key areas of the department of Alta Verapaz and in four sectors That have the greatest economic potential: The sectors of forestry, tourism, construction and environmental services. 

Expected results

  • 5000 young men and women gain access to technical and vocational training.
  • 1100 jobs created
  • 150 new enterprises created
  • 2250 self-employment ventures supported
  • 1300 businesses improved
  • 60 000 young people and indigenous women have access to information and are more aware of sexual and reproductive health issues, the prevention of violence and the care economy.
  • 1300 savings groups trained in financial education
  • 400 young people and women trained in leadership

Financing partners

This project is financed by SIDA, among other donors. It is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA.

Project links


Entrepreneurial ecosystems, Initial vocational education and training, Labour market insertion
Multiply the empowerment: promoting gender equality through grassroots leadership 
In Guatemala, Swisscontact implements Empodera — Economic Empowerment of Indigenous Youth and Women project — to improve the living conditions of indigenous young people and women by helping to increase their incomes through employment and entrepreneurship.
Upskilling and Reskilling, Entrepreneurial ecosystems, Labour market insertion
Empodera: a project to achieve women's economic autonomy and equality in Guatemala 
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. 
A new television programme to empower the youth of Alta Verapaz
Swisscontact is bringing information and awareness of sexual and reproductive health to young people in Alta Verapaz, one of the poorest departments in Guatemala. For this purpose, a television programme was recently created to contribute to the prevention of teenage pregnancies and violence. This initiative is implemented together with the Municipality of Cobán and the local health department (DASAV) of the Ministry of Health.

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