Guatemala is a country of young entrepreneurs. One in six Guatemalans is an entrepreneur, and over 50% of them are between 18 and 34 years old. The propensity for starting small businesses in Guatemala reflects economic need. Unfortunately, the majority of small businesses in Guatemala are not particularly competitive. Moreover, entrepreneurs face structural challenges such as the lack of formal education, poor access to capital, and informality.
In fact, in Guatemala almost 70 percent of the working population is employed in the informal sector, and 40 percent of business owners did not complete elementary school, lacking the basic knowledge to design a successful business model, or know how to apply for credit to invest in their business.
Opportunities for My Community Supports Small Business
With the objective of supporting small business in Guatemala, the Opportunities for My Community project provides personalized technical assistance to small business owners, helping them to strengthen their business through different strategies such as financial planning, marketing strategies, formalization processes, and technical assistance with credit. Assistance is provided by business coaches who are experts in business management. They accompany entrepreneurs through personalized coaching sessions, helping them to address challenges and seize opportunities.
To connect with entrepreneurs, the project works with three leading financial institutions in Guatemala: the MICOOPE credit union system, Banco Industrial and Banrural. The project’s financial sector partners provide access to credit, while the project provides technical support to entrepreneurs.
José Fernando Mancilla, owner of Amati Coffee Webin Amatitlán, is one of the entrepreneurs participating in the project. He affirms that after the personalized business advising that the project provided him, his business profits increased.
“The project allowed us to innovate, to improve the menu and customer service. Now, we believe that innovation is an important part of growing and strengthening businesses.”- José Fernando Mancilla
Meanwhile, in Huehuetenango, Moises Solís longed to have his own business, a dream he made possible in October, 2018, when he launched Pastelería Don Moy. The project supported Mr. Solis in the planning and launching of his business. Moreover, his business coach assisted him in the design of a marketing strategy through social networks.
“By communicating our promotions and products through social media, sales have greatly increased.”- Mr. Moisés Solis
Another successful case is that of Elisa Chanchavac in Santa Cruz, Quiché, whose business Serigrafía Leo has generated 10 sources of employment in her community. Through business coaching sessions, Ms. Chanchavac decided to take steps to invest in human resources by holding workshops for employees focusing on Teamwork and Customer Service.
Formalization has been another important focus of the business advising sessions. Mynor Castañeda of Santa Cruz Barillas, owner of “Restaurante la tentacion del Sabor” decided to undertake the formalization process for his business, perceiving important benefits.
“Business coaching has been very helpful to refocus the work that we have been doing. I could perceive significant benefits from formalizing, such as being able to offer formal invoices to our clients”- Mynor Castañeda
Just as these small businesses have benefited from personalized business coaching sessions, more than 200 other entrepreneurs have participated in this process. They have learned to use technologies for accounting purposes, financial planning, innovation strategies, and more, while venturing into the knowledge economy. Moreover, 146 of these entrepreneurs have obtained a credit for their business with an average amount of USD $13,308. Access to credit and technical support helps entrepreneurs join into the knowledge economy, making Guatemala’s economy stronger and competitive.
To learn more about this component, watch this video
 World Economic Forum. “Leveraginf Entrepenurial Ambition and Innovation” January 2016. Available at: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEFUSA_EntrepreneurialInnovation_Report.pdf