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Economic Development Requires Training before Microcredit
Category: Microcredit | By RAGM, 7-Apr-2013 | Viewed 2924  Comments 0
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Two Rotary Global Grants and a third one in progress are providing business training to women (and a couple of men) who work as hawkers in the markets and scavenge in the dumps of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  The program is called Economic Opportunity Training or EOT and it teaches goal setting, planning, budgeting, marketing, sales, and customer service with the idea they can improve their existing business or start a new one.  It is hoped they will increase their income enough to be able to pay for the uniforms, shoes, books and school supplies of their children that is now funded with charity. 

This experience illustrates the multiple barriers these people face.  They are impoverished because they face social barriers as most of these families have come to the violent and crime ridden slums of Tegucigalpa from rural communities without family or community connections.  They have skills/education barriers as most have minimal primary education or are simply illiterate.  They and their peer groups are all doing the same thing the same way without anybody showing them a better way.  Competition is dog-eat-dog and cooperation does not come easily.  They face financial barriers as they do not have capital to purchase equipment or inventory to run a profitable micro-business, many are in debt to loan sharks. 

The H.E.L.P. Honduras NGO Alternativa y Oportunidad (AyO) was founded 20 years ago by local Rotarians to assist these families to get their children into school, provide parent counseling and leadership, basic medical services.  In 2011, EOT was started as a pilot project to provide new business skills.  AyO is serving about 800 families and 2200 children in school at this time in Tegucigalpa.  The EOT training is given in two phases over 11 months: basic concepts and then advanced training to qualify them for microcredit or sewing skills (currently limited to 10 women/year).  In the first year, 120 registered for phase one, 40 for phase two and 7 qualified for microcredit.  In the second year ending in November 2012, 200 registered for phase 1, 107 for phase 2 and 46 have qualified or are applying for microcredit to fund their micro-businesses.  The program is now underway for the third year.

The goals of the program over 5 years is that families who participate will be self-supporting, that  over 1100 kids are in school without benefit of charity, and that the EOT program developed by AyO will be government accredited to allow it to be offered to other needy groups.

These Global Grants were in support of the H.E.L.P. Honduras Program funded in part by the Canadian Rotary Collaboration for International Development.  See http://crcid.org/Documents_new/EOT%20Graduation%20Ceremony.pdf

Bill Feyrer

Bill is a member and past president of Victoria-Harbourside RC.  He has been interested in international service for many years and has been the primary sponsor for the last 3 Global Grants to help with the H.E.L.P. Honduras project.
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