The U.S. Department of State, in partnership with the World Environment Center (WEC), announced the four winners of the Pathways to Prosperity Innovation Challenge on July 25. Presenting the strongest local, high-impact solutions, these organizations will expand efforts to empower small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Latin America and the Caribbean to address labor and environmental barriers to business. Pending final reviews, each will receive up to $500,000 and technical support to scale up or replicate their initiatives in the region. The four winners are:
• Empowering Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises:
o Lutheran World Relief, Nicaragua – “Mobile Cocoa” builds a network of diverse stakeholders across sectors to improve cacao farmers’ understanding of production and international markets, while connecting them to resources.
• Facilitating Trade:
o Núcleo Biotecnología Curauma, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Chile – “CompiteMAS” provides SMEs tools to make decisions on technology and sustainability practices, as well as measure and monitor productivity, environmental and social impact.
• Developing a Modern Workforce:
o ICAM GROUP (Informática y Computación Avanzada de México, S.C.), Mexico – The “Integral Measurement System and Productivity Improvement for SMEs” process builds skills for SMEs’ sustainability, while facilitating communication between workers and employers to improve social dialogue.
• Promoting Sustainable Business Practices:
o Vista Volcanes, S.A., Guatemala – “Capilla Malla Inocua” changes the use of insecticides to protect crop development and create a network of sustainable, small entrepreneurs equipped with the tools to grow their business.
A panel of expert judges made up of Stephen Harper of Intel Corporation, Laura Juanes of Yahoo!, Ambassador Charles Shapiro of the Institute of the Americas, Katherine Sierra of the Brookings Institution, and Mari Snyder of Marriott International selected the top solutions after a months-long competition that garnered hundreds of innovative solutions from across the region. Those selected had a track record of local impact and collaboration with cross-sector partners.
More information about the winners and complete information about the challenge can be found at challenge.wec.org/awards, by contacting Stefanie Fabrico de Salazar at FabricoSL@state.gov (202) 647-4252, Geoff Johnson at JohnsonGI@state.gov (202) 647-9911, or visiting www.pathways-caminos.org.