- As part of an initiative promoted by the private company DOLE, CATIE agribusiness specialists contributed to strengthen the capacities and advise women with social vulnerability factors in the area of Valle la Estrella, in Limón, Costa Rica.
Tuesday, November 8, 2022. "I was very indebted and my money was very messy, but after about six months of taking this advice my situation began to change", these were the words of Letty Sequeira Vásquez, an entrepreneur in charge of a beauty salon who is grateful for the lessons learned through training actions, She is grateful for the training, advice and development of business ideas provided by agribusiness experts from the Environmental Economics and Sustainable Agribusiness Unit (UEAAS/EfD) of CATIE (Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center) participated in the report.
A total of 17 women were able to complete the process, which began in October 2021 and concluded with a graduation ceremony at the end of October 2022. All these activities were carried out within the framework of the Pilot Project for Productive Insertion, which included a process of training, technical assistance and accompaniment for people outside the labor force in DOLE families in Costa Rica (Project Intégrate).
See the change in their lives
Susana Acuña, one of the UEAAS/EfD agribusiness specialists, said that for her as an instructor and advisor, the most enriching thing was being able to generate a change in the participants through the lessons learned.
"Many of them mentioned at the beginning that they were not so good financially, but that the project had changed their lives," said Acuña. "This is satisfying because as a team what we wanted was for them to not just have a subsistence venture, but one that would allow them to move forward, grow and get ahead," she added.
Acuña also commented that at the beginning the participants did not feel empowered, and even expressed insecurity and shyness when speaking, but in the end, through the project, they were able to acquire greater self-esteem, value their time and work, and feel useful administratively, entrepreneurially and financially.
Along with Acuña, CATIE's agribusiness specialists Adriana Escobedo and Anthony Gamboa contributed to the project.
Learning about business
The work carried out by the CATIE team consisted, during the first part, of providing six training modules on topics such as the business idea, the business canvas, profitability analysis, product and service marketing, and customer satisfaction, among others.
In the second part of the workshop, the participants followed up on the development of their entrepreneurial profiles. In addition, they were given a final training on how to make a pitch elevator, which can be understood as a short speech previously prepared to be able to sell the business idea to an investor, said Anthony Gamboa.
Collaboration for the community
"For DOLE one of the most important issues in our sustainability strategy is 'People'," said Raquel Alfaro, social worker at DOLE Costa Rica, in reference to the fact that they understand that to be successful as a company depends on how prosperous the communities where they operate are, as well as the people who work there and their families.
"We want to be strategic partners to achieve socioeconomic development, it is part of our commitment," Alfaro added.
In addition to the collaboration of CATIE, this pilot project had the support of different institutions that intervened with specific activities and demonstrated the importance of inter-institutional coordination to contribute to the communities. Among them are the University College of Limón (Cunlimón), the Latin University of Costa Rica, the School of Food Technology of the University of Costa Rica (UCR) and the National Learning Institute (INA, its Spanish acronym).