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 - 2022
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. 



  • 135 young men and women have completed short courses in technical professions, thus improving their employability.
  • 47 young people have certified their skills with INTECAP in the professions of carpenter, welder, hairdresser and trainer of trainers.
  • 435 young people received vocational guidance at events with INTECAP, La DIDEDUC and the municipalities of San Pedro Carchá, San Juan Chamelco and Tactic. A strategy for information and career guidance was developed.
  • A labour market study was carried out in the municipalities of San Pedro Carchá, San Juan Chamelco and Tactic.
  • 530 young people have been sensitised to entrepreneurship through their participation in the TWorkshop on Entrepreneurs' Day.
  • 60 entrepreneurs had access to business coaching services provided by six certified consultants.
  • 47 young people were trained in marketing for ExpoFer Juvenil 2019, where they presented their products.
  • A strategy to promote incubation services in Alta Verapaz and a strategy to facilitate financial education was designed.
  • Creation of the entrepreneurship network in partnership with MINECO.
  • 39 intermediaries representing 21 public, private and local NGOs were certified to provide entrepreneurship training.
  • 165 young men and women have received entrepreneurship training through six partner organisations.
  • The inter-institutional platform at departmental level has been strengthened in the framework of the National Plan to Reduce Pregnancy among Young People (PLANEA). PLANEA has a mass communication strategy for the campaign on sexual and reproductive health, violence prevention and care economy.
  • A coalition of three networks has been formed, bringing together some 65 organisations: Red VET, Red de Derivación and PLANEA for the joint launch of three campaigns to reduce violence in Alta Verapaz: Wank Sa' Tuqtuukilal "Vivamos en Armonía"; #ElAmorNeverEsViolencia; and #PoneteLas-Pilas. Three institutions provide information and services to raise awareness about sexual and reproductive health, violence prevention and care economy: FEDECOVERA, DASAV and DIDEDUC.
  • A labour market study was carried out in the municipalities of San Pedro Carchá, San Juan Chamelco and Tactic.
  • 26 social communicators were trained in transformative journalism with a gender perspective.

Project links


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.
Initial vocational education and training
A web portal to guide young people in Guatemala on vocational training and job opportunities
In spring 2021, Swisscontact launched a website to offer vocational guidance to young people in Guatemala, supporting them in their search for a future professional career or technical training. The platform is a tool to promote vocational and professional orientation in a personalised way from anywhere in the country. It allows students to discover their strengths and aptitudes accompanied by a coach. Such initiatives are of great value in a country like Guatemala where access to training is limited for the population. 
Guatemala, Bolivia, Colombia
Initial vocational education and training, Labour market insertion, Upskilling and reskilling
Digital tools used in skills development projects in Latin America
In Latin America, Swisscontact has been supporting the development of digital solutions in its skills development projects to facilitate access to training and job opportunities. Youth living in poor rural areas of Guatemala are offered vocational guidance through a web portal. Applications developed in Bolivia support young people and technical professionals in finding suitable training or employment opportunities. In Colombia, the training offer that improves construction practices in informal housing was extended by a virtual platform in 2020.