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Harnessing the talent of rural youth in Guatemala

In Guatemala, young women and men often hold precarious jobs in the informal rural economy, earning half of the minimum national wage. Increasingly, they try to migrate to urban areas or abroad as a last desperate resort for making a living.

“The project is generating a change in my life and in the life of my community, of which I now feel proud,” says María.

To address this challenge, the FAO Integrated Country Approach (ICA) for promoting decent rural employment in Guatemala seeks to empower rural youth as entrepreneurs and agents of economic development in rural areas.

One of the initiatives implemented through the ICA programme in Guatemala is La Factoria de trabajo, a business laboratory helping young women and men start up community-centred entrepreneurial activities. The initiative has provided a 3-month training on entrepreneurial skills and local development to 60 young women and men, between the ages of 20 and 30, from the migration-prone areas of Quetzaltenango, San Marcos, Huehuetenango and Totonicapán.

“In my community there are often tough decisions to be taken, such as sending children or even babies abroad. Everyone migrates: young boys and girls, young women and even entire families,” explains María Chum Pastor, one of the youth involved in La Factoria.

María is a 26-year-old farmer from Climentoro, in the Municipality of Aguacatán. Thanks to this initiative, she has designed, together with her community, a multi-sectorial business project, which focuses on cattle rearing, production and commercialization of cheese, potatoes and green vegetables and the elaboration of organic fertilizers. This will enable her to boost the current subsistence farming of her family, create a cooperative and facilitate the establishment of 10 to 15 microenterprises in her community.

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