A big percentage of the Guatemalan population lives below the poverty line (59,3%). Additionally, there’s a tremendous gap between the labour force and the offer of formal job opportunities. To generate income, Guatemalans have turned to entrepreneurship. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, 79.8% of Guatemalans have a string desire to be an entrepreneur, and around 40% of the local workforce is self-employed.
This means that, to foster economic development through entrepreneurship, entrepreneurs need access to specialised support and development services and resources to create and grow sustainable businesses. However, the local entrepreneurial support network is predominantly comprised of generalist Entrepreneurship Support Organisations (ESOs), with few examples of specializations, which makes up and downstream collaboration difficult. Entrepreneurs too often find themselves in a land of uncertainty, where they are not ready for later stage programs or investment and cannot find the financial support they require. There is still a pressing need for tools that reinforce the concept that different types of entrepreneurs, in different development stages, require varied types of support, and promote active collaboration between the sectors of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
In response to these challenges, we are supporting bottom-up initiatives to a) make the ecosystem more inclusive and equitable b) strengthen collaboration and specialisation among ecosystem actors c) foster an environment where start-ups can flourish.
The project works in four pillars:
Swisscontact is working closely with local entrepreneurship support organisations, investors, entrepreneurs and the public sector to ensure they can actively collaborate to create a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The project succeeded in facilitating more and better collaboration among ecosystem actors because of trust building, which translated in programmes co-organised by ESOs, joint trainings, events, and products such as the Startup Act.
Additionally, entrepreneurs reported that Startkit helped them find the tools and services they required, which according to ESOs, increased the outreach of their programmes and the success rate of entrepreneurs that signed up for their services. More and more, ESOs talk about specialised programmes, centered on the founders and their specific businesses.
Interventions as the Policy Hackathon enabled pathways to connect the entrepreneurial ecosystem with the government, but there is still much to be done in terms of technical assistance for the public sector to grant them a better response capacity towards the challenges of entrepreneurs, investors, and support ecosystem actors.
The investment ecosystem is slowly opening to impact investing, and venture capitalists are exploring joint processes with multilateral organizations and cooperation agencies.
Women are more represented, and more resources are being allocated on programnmes that prioritise female founders creating growth-oriented companies, which is a relatively new conversation in the ecosystem. However, it is still necessary to create better pathway to include women in male dominated industries.
The project achieved several important milestones: