Rural Market Opportunities in the Gulf of Fonseca

Inclusive economic growth can break the cycle of poverty and social marginalisation in the Dry Corridor where the Gulf of Fonseca region is located. Agriculture is seen as the priority sector where efforts to address productivity, market and infrastructure issues are concentrated. Similarly, non-agricultural economic activities provide opportunities, as they generate a vigorous and diversified local economy.  The Rural Market Opportunities Project in the Gulf of Fonseca contributes to the inclusive local economic development of 33 municipalities located in the region, with an emphasis on vulnerable populations, women and youth; specifically focusing on improving productivity and income.  
Valle Department, Honduras
Project duration
2017 - 2022
Financed by
  • Global Affairs Canada

The project

The “Rural Market Opportunities in the Gulf of Fonseca” project is sponsored by Global Affairs Canada and implemented by Swisscontact. It addresses entrenched poverty and low economic productivity in the Dry Corridor by enabling rural MSMEs, including agricultural producers, to take full advantage of the agricultural and non-agricultural market opportunities available to them. 
The project approach to rural private sector development, is to build strength throughout the local economic system – supporting small businesses to operate more efficiently and effectively; helping them gain access to and meet the demands of local, national and export markets; and fostering an enabling environment that is conducive to their success and sustainability of the businesses. It will also link local economic development plans to broader regional and national strategies to harmonise efforts and make them more efficient. The project will reach 7460 people and their households. 


The project is expected to have achieved three intermediate outcomes:

  • Improved business, technical and/or financing practices by small-scale enterprises, especially those led by or mainly employing women, youth and/or marginalized people living in poverty
  • Increased productivity and sales by small-scale enterprises and producers, especially those led by or mainly employing women, youth and/or marginalized people living in poverty
  • Strengthened entrepreneurial ecosystem in the municipalities with local and regional organisations and networks of entrepreneurs. 

Highlighted activities

  • Development of technical and administrative capacities of the target population
  • Increased access to new markets.
  • Strengthening of local platforms for social and economic development
  • Competitive and business performance-related competitions.
  • Local, national and international fairs.
  • Development of new financial products.  
  • Development of business models.  
  • Development of new economic business development services.


Project partner

  • Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock
  • Secretariat of Economic Development
  • Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the South CCIS
  • Technological University of Honduras UTH  
  • Centro Universitario del Litoral Pacífico CURLP  
  • Honduran Institute of Tourism IHT



  • 1505 producers (46% women and 13% young people) assisted in promoting agricultural climate-smart practices.
  • 5592 cashew plants and 1438 fruit plants successfully grafted for plantation renovation.
  • 68 tourism companies implemented water and energy saving practices.
  • 43 tourism companies (58% owned by women) started with the implementation of the Central American Integrated Quality and Sustainability System (SICCS) in Nacaome, San Lorenzo, Coyolito, Choluteca and San Marcos de Colón
  • 20 artisanal dairy plants (seven owned by women) conducted quality testing of milk and 17 (five women's properties) applied the Central American Technical Regulation RTCA
  • 8 business networks with 160 multi-sector MSMEs were set up, according to their location and economic activity.
  • Formation of the Committee of the Region's Craft Dairy Plants, made up of 16 companies (five owned by women).
  • 284 entrepreneurs presented their business ideas to a three-person evaluation panel made up of key players, representatives of financial institutions and knowledgeable about the business sector in the region.
  • 890 people are participating in the financial education programme (34% women and 32% youth).
  • 518 people (34% women) accessed funding through the agreement with the government (Solidarity Credit) and a financial services provider (FUNDER).
  • The project has had an impact on the articulation of public and private actors to initiate certification processes of quality in artisanal dairy plants.
  • The beneficiaries have accepted environmental practices (climate-sustainable agriculture), the inclusion of gender and promote operational and business quality standards.
  • Improved competitiveness gaps in dairy, cashew and fruit value chains and in MSMEs networks through direct links with buyers to explore business relationships inclusive; for example, participation in fairs, business conferences, trade agreements with suppliers among others.


Upskilling and reskilling
Technical and entrepreneurship training for rural Hondurans
In the second quarter of the year 2021, the project has carried out a series of activities that have achieved important results, including: the graduation of women and men cashew and fruit producers who successfully completed the technical and business capacity building programme.  
Working to make gender research actionable in Honduras
Given the challenge of making gender approaches and concepts actionable, especially the concept of women’s empowerment, multiple tools have been developed to operationalize theory and thus improve the lives of women in the agricultural sector. However, many of the opportunities that exist to improve the capacity of practitioners to generate change still lie in our ability to share the lessons we learn by implementing these tools with rural communities.
Entrepreneurial ecosystems, Sustainable tourism
“The training gave us new hope”
In the Rural Opportunities project, Swisscontact supports businesspeople from disadvantaged population segments. The following quotes provide glimpses into how they are benefiting from the project, even during the COVID-19 crisis.