Honduras, OAS Seek to Turn Migrant Returnees into Entrepreneurs

A pilot program funded by the Organization of American States aims to offer technical support for deported migrants seeking to start their own businesses

The OAS will contribute $100,000 to the project to assist deported migrants in the launching of their own businesses in Honduras
August 04, 2022 | 06:35 PM

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San Pedro Sula — Hundreds of Hondurans attempt to migrate irregularly to the US every day in search of better living conditions. In addition to the risks they expose themselves to on the journey, there is also the possibility of being returned to the country from which they are trying to flee because of poverty, violence and lack of opportunities.

The deportation of Hondurans, mainly from the United States and Mexico, totaled 51,570 people in first quarter, 84.4% more compared to the same period of 2021, when 27,965 migrant returnees were registered, according to data from the Honduran Consular and Migration Observatory.

Now the country is launching a pilot project to help deported migrants returning home to start businesses.

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“If they have already made the decision to risk their lives to go to the United States, we encourage them to show that courage in projects in Honduras,” said Dennis Corrales, executive director of the National Service for Entrepreneurship and Small Businesses (Senprende).

The state-run agency, responsible for guiding public policies and providing formalization services and technical assistance to entrepreneurs nationwide, will implement a pilot project to strengthen technical and financial skills for the next generation of micro-enterprises for up to 200 migrant returnees.

The initiative will receive $100,000 in seed capital from the Development Cooperation Fund of the Organization of American States (OAS), and will be accompanied by the Ministry of Social Development (Sedesol) and with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Honduras, through its Directorate of Migrant Protection.

“We have a model validated in 40 countries and which is 40 years old, approximately, and which is proven to allow them to stay in Honduras and start businesses,” Corrales said.

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Targeted support

The program will offer incorporation, seed capital and technical training for migrant returnees’ businesses, and will also include the development of a marketing plan for entrepreneurs, as well as workshops on profile creation and use of virtual platforms and social networks, and awareness campaigns on local consumption.

Corrales explained that to guarantee market access for the ventures, alliances have been struck up with the state contracting and procurement regulatory office (ONCAE), through its HonduCompras service, as well as the country’s national commodities supplier (Banasupro) and the mayor’s offices of the Central District (Tegucigalpa and Comayagüela) and San Pedro Sula, which are the largest municipalities in the country.

“We do not want to develop a three- or six-month operation. This project will accompany these people for about three years, assisting them to reason that the valley of death for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises is five years in Honduras,” he added, pointing out that entrepreneurs need to make sure that the acceleration and growth of their sales occurs so that they can strike out on their own.

The program will provide startups with tools that will enable them to develop business management, a leadership strategy and enhance productive activities in each of their communities to meet their business models.

The program will have a total investment of $240,000 and aims to identify entrepreneurs in San Pedro Sula, Choloma, Villanueva, El Progreso, and Tegucigalpa who have business ideas related to commerce, services, technology, and other productive areas.

Offshore jobs

In July, the head of Senprende signed an alliance with the director general of the Honduran Merchant Marine, Edgar Soriano Ortiz, aimed at promoting training and jobs for Hondurans in the maritime sector.

“We are trying to reach agreements with the aim of guiding and also benefiting returned migrants, to provide them with job opportunities [on the high seas],” Soriano Ortiz said.