Thriving in San Marcos: Mainstreaming Migration for Development in Guatemala

Cover of Thriving in San Marcos Report

In this report, The Inter-American Dialogue is pleased to present the activities and results of the Thriving in San Marcos initiative. This strategy was implemented in Guatemala between November 2019 and 2021 in partnership with Cities Alliance, and offered an innovative approach to local migration management. Migration makes substantive contributions to Guatemala’s local economies. Remittances increase households’ disposable income and generate savings. Most savings are kept informally, but, through greater financial education and financial inclusion, they can be brought into the formal financial sector, to accounts at banks and credit unions. The process of formalizing these savings generates assets that allow people to create wealth, therefore creating local development and minimizing the risk of continued migration. By incorporating a migration perspective into methodologies for financial inclusion, local investment, education, and capacity building, the project sought to alleviate some of the challenges posed by internal and international migration at the municipal level.

The report begins with a description of Guatemala's migratory situation, and the importance of remittance flows to its economy. It establishes the stakes for successful migration management at the municipal level. It then presents the Thriving in San Marcos initiative, and its five components:

  1. Financial education
  2. Business coaching
  3. Extracurricular education with a pre-professional focus
  4. Training on mainstreaming migration into local development 
  5. Remittance, housing, and cities as laboratories for collective agenda setting


  1. Over 25,000 financial education sessions held, US$ 2,400,000 in savings formalized, and over 2,200 new financial products acquired.
  2. Over 30 entrepreneurs received coaching to strengthen business performance.
  3. Nearly 1,000 youth received after-school education with a pre-professional focus.
  4. Over 30 local actors received training to identify pathways that leverage migration for development planning and programming in their communities.




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