FAO supports entrepreneurship amongst rural youth in Honduras

FAO reduces unemployment through training in agricultural and entrepreneurial skills.

Key facts

In Honduras, rural youth face considerable challenges in accessing productive and decent employment opportunities. The rural labour markets are often characterized by low productivity, informality and high levels of unemployment. This is particularly the case for young people under 24 years of age, who constitute more than half of the country’s unemployed population. Also, about 40 percent of all young workers are paid less than the minimum wage and work long hours without access to social protection or adequate representation. Consequently, many young people have sought opportunities elsewhere. In 2010, the number of Hondurans legally living abroad was equivalent to about 7.5 per cent of the country’s total population. In 2009, the United Nations Joint Programme (UNJP) set forth a US$ 595 000 initiative to generate decent employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for vulnerable youth aged 15 to 29. In this framework, FAO led a component focusing on rural youth aiming to disincentivize youth migration by supporting them to launch and run their own micro-enterprises. Under the programme component, 2 180 young women and men were trained in agricultural and entrepreneurial skills and pitched their proposed microenterprises to credit and seed capital funds.  

Creating an entrepreneurial culture amongst the rural youth
During the implementation of the rural component led by FAO, beneficiaries were given full responsibility for the development of entrepreneurial activities, and were supported throughout the process. First, targeted youth were guided in analyzing local market opportunities and developing business plans, while being trained in agricultural and business skills needed to launch and sustain their enterprises. Next, the prospective young agro-entrepreneurs were supported in accessing credit and seed funds to launch and grow their microenterprises.

FAO and its partners worked with the beneficiaries to form youth business associations with increased emphasis on gender equality and revaluing cultural roots. “We have received training in gender, which is very important because we help each other and exchange ideas with our female colleagues in the group. We have been given all the material so that we can perform at business and community level,” explains Group Young Farmers for the Development of San Juan, Guajiquiro.

The joint programme also worked with national and local stakeholders to improve the legal, policy and institutional framework for youth employment through the establishment of inter-institutional committees and regional worktables.

The FAO component of the UNJP provided assistance to rural youth enterprise development, and helped ease migratory pressures. As a result, 2 180 young women and men were trained in agricultural and entrepreneurial skills, and pitched their proposed microenterprises to credit and seed capital funds. Among this group, over 1 500 youth successfully launched and continued to operate their microenterprises. Furthermore, interviews with the beneficiaries have shown that their microenterprises are sufficient to reduce their propensity to migrate, as they now consider it possible to earn decent livelihoods in the rural areas of Honduras.

In order to support institutional development, two youth-led interregional commercialization networks were launched, which have provided support to other prospective young agro-entrepreneurs. The UNJP also successfully supported the development of the National Youth Employment Plan in conjunction with numerous public institutions and municipalities.

“The leaders of the community support us with dedication, we present our ideas to them and they guide us and sometimes even help us realize them,” says the  Young President of the Group of San Juan.

Looking at long-term sustainability
A comprehensive exit strategy was included in the programme to better ensure its sustainability. The strategy was put in place from the beginning, and was based on two pillars. The first was an emphasis on capacity development and local ownership by empowering and developing the capacities of local institutions. This was accomplished by gradually transferring responsibility for programme implementation to the targeted municipalities, as well as other local institutions such as the Youth Leaders Network.

The second pillar was that the programme generated interinstitutional worktables for dialogue, bringing together representatives from the national government, municipalities and civil society. It created a forum in which key stakeholders could monitor and discuss the progress of the programme in the framework of an institutionalized and inter-organizational relationship that could help support the programme’s continuity, while at the same time acting as a built in mechanism to support the mobilization of funds needed to finance project activities.

A successful model that can be scaled up
This approach provides multi-faceted support to address the challenges that youth face in launching enterprises (access to skills, credit, inputs, and markets) – constraints that are universal in nature. Strong emphasis is placed on involving youth in the selection of products and planning of activities. This increases the local ownership of the initiative and ensures that specific activities are designed in accordance with local needs.

The success of this programme determined several other municipalities in Honduras to express interest in implementing similar initiatives. 

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