The Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE) with funding from the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), is currently implementing the Female Entrepreneurship Program (FEP) to strengthen the economic empowerment and leadership skills of 20 women cacao farmers in the Toledo District. The methodology of this project was transferred to BELTRAIDE from El Salvador’s counterpart, Comisión Nacional de la Micro y Pequeña Empresa (CONAMYPE) through the Regional Center for the Promotion of Micro and Small Enterprises (CENPROMYPE). BELTRAIDE adopted and tailored the FEP Methodology to the women and country’s reality and needs, and piloted the first FEP in 2019 graduating 13 business women from various industries. 

The second cohort of the program started on October 12 & 13, 2021 with 20 Cacao Women farmers who are being trained, advised, and mentored through a “Train the Trainers” program that will provide them with technical assistance, tools, and generate knowledge for business innovation throughout 11 weeks. The women have been divided into two (2) groups of 10 women each to social distance and adhere to COVID-19 Health Protocols. Thereafter BELTRAIDE will monitor through follow-ups the transfer of knowledge from the 20 trainees to other 40 women cacao farmers and female cacao farmers within Toledo.

Women will receive business technical skills but also knowledge for women empowerment in Women Human Rights & Gender Equality at Work and Basic Financial Literacy. These trainings will provide women with skills to manage their personal rights and household finances as well as to develop and manage entrepreneurial activities. Other topics will be covered based on assessment of participants such as Computer for Everyday Life and Introduction to Customer Discovery and Validation.

BELTRAIDE is implementing this program in partnership with the Toledo Cacao Growers Association (TCGA) to empower women on gender equality and entrepreneurship within the cacao industry.. Other supporters include the National Women’s Commission and the Toledo Mayan Council, and the Toledo Teacher’s Credit Union.

FEP creates a space for women to collaborate, generate knowledge and innovation, and develop and validate business models in a participative and dynamic manner. Participants of this program will be able to identify business opportunities and, through the adjustment of solutions and/or products, respond to market needs. This experience will increase their ability to interact effectively with buyers and potential buyers and engage in value chain upgrading where feasible.