Accion is a global nonprofit working to advance economic opportunity through microfinance and impact investing. Between 2021 and 2024, Accion intends to provide advice, guidance, and consulting services to organizations that serve micro and small business owners in northern Central America, ultimately benefitting more than 400,000 people. Accion plans to help businesses shift from cash to digital, improve management and financial capabilities, and expand local access to finance through branchless banking. Accion’s work will empower business owners and their families to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as build the financial health, resilience, and prosperity sorely needed to address the root causes of migration.
Agroamerica, a family-owned sustainable food and ingredients corporation, will invest more than $100 million in six new projects that will generate 1,000 permanent, living-wage jobs in northern Central America over the next 5 years. Future projects include a food ingredients refinery, a 600-hectares banana plantation, a large avocado plantation and processing plant, and the expansion of a Natural Ingredients Processing Plant. Agroamerica expects to drastically reduce food waste in the region while presenting an innovative business line for small and independent producers of raw ingredients and tropical fruits produced in Central America.
Alterna is a Guatemala-based social innovation platform that promotes the development of entrepreneurs and socially conscious companies. By providing support in five countries in Central America, Alterna focuses on strengthening entrepreneurs and companies with business models that have the clear purpose of improving their environment. Alterna has committed $500,000 to USAID’s Guatemala Entrepreneurship Development and Innovation (GEDI) Initiative. The initiative, first announced by Vice President Harris in June 2021, will establish and strengthen business incubators and business accelerators that will ultimately help small businesses grow and access capital.
The Argidius Foundation’s mission is to help individuals, families, and whole communities move away from poverty through access to decent, fulfilling, and paid work. This Switzerland-based foundation provides philanthropic grants and works with the private sector to increase the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises and they have existing private sector partners in Guatemala. Argidius has committed $3 million to USAID’s Guatemala Entrepreneurship Development and Innovation (GEDI) Initiative that will directly support business accelerators and provide business development support to help small companies grow and access capital.
Grupo Bancolombia is one of Latin America’s major financial institutions with operations in El Salvador and Guatemala. Grupo Bancolombia commits to expanding financial inclusion efforts to reach the unbanked through digital banking accounts, focusing on remittance-receiving families, women-led businesses and other small enterprises to increase investment and improve living conditions, and strengthen ties to their local communities, adding more than 400,000 new account holders by 2025. As part of this effort, Grupo Bancolombia plans to work with its partners to expand access to credit and connect more than 50,000 small shopkeepers with suppliers, distributors, and retail customers.
Banco LAFISE is part of Grupo LAFISE, founded in 1895, with branches in Central America, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela. A partner of USAID’s since 2019, Banco LAFISE Honduras has made a new three-year commitment to increase its lending to small and medium-sized agricultural processors by $20 million. Access to this capital could create an estimated 1,000 new jobs in the agro processing and agribusiness sectors.
CARE is a humanitarian international organization that has worked with State, USAID, and DOL. CARE is announcing a $50 million Center for Gender Equity in Central America focused on women and young people and designed to reach 500,000 individual women and their families, impacting two million people in total. The Center will support public and private programs in the region—scaling up those that work—to support financial inclusion, women’s economic empowerment (including in the protection of labor rights and in supporting entrepreneurship), improved agricultural outcomes, and reductions in gender-based violence. In particular, CARE will support companies joining the Call to Action with technical assistance to ensure that a gender-based lens is applied to new programs and investment
Cargill has operated in Central America for more than 50 years, with 10,000 employees working in the region. As part of the Call to Action, Cargill will invest an additional $150 million over the next five years with the intention of improving farmer livelihoods and building economic resilience in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The company’s investments will aim to create jobs and support producers as well as micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the protein and animal nutrition supply chains. Cargill will also contribute at least $10 million over three years to partnerships that directly support farmers and farm communities, and improve food security through community nutrition and school meal programs. Cargill’s new commercial and philanthropic efforts will expand support for more than 19,000 farmers, 52,000 MSMEs, and more than 25,000 children and community members in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. This includes support for USAID’s Guatemala Entrepreneurship and Development Innovation (GEDI) Initiative for small businesses owners, which the Vice President announced in June 2021.
Chobani commits to bring its incubator program to Guatemala, where local food entrepreneurs will get expertise and support to help them set up and scale their operations. Chobani will use knowledge from its global incubator program to determine how best to create and execute a program in Guatemala that will support local startups and contribute to regional economic empowerment. In the United States, the Chobani Incubator has helped support the growth of 47 different companies in the food and beverage industry since its inception in 2016. Founders receive a monetary grant and access to resources across the ecosystem, from retailers to investors and everything in between.
COATL, a digital service firm, will invest $35 million in El Salvador to expand rural access to high-speed internet over the next 5 years by expanding and operating a highly reliable rural broadband network over existing high-power electricity lines. This work will allow equal access to a digital ecosystem in rural areas, enabling online education, financial inclusion, and e-services.
CrossBoundary is an investment advisory firm that has been raising private capital in underserved markets for the last ten years by acting as an advisor to investors, entrepreneurs, and development organizations. Through a partnership with USAID, CrossBoundary commits to provide investment advisory services to at least eight small and medium-sized enterprises in El Salvador in raising at least $10 million in capital for their businesses. In addition, CrossBoundary commits to opening a permanent office in northern Central America that will provide transaction advisory services to accelerate investment in the region.
Davivienda is a multi-national bank with a presence in Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Panama. To date, Davivienda has worked to expand financial inclusion by expanding its digital payment system, DAVIPLATA, and by increasing access to credit, particularly for women. In collaboration with public and private sector partners, Davivienda commits to connecting one million unbanked individuals in northern Central America with financial services, including via its DAVIPLATA platform. Davivienda also commits to contributing $500 million in loans to support low-income housing, small- and medium-sized businesses, renewable energy projects, and women entrepreneurs.
Deetken Impact is a Canadian impact investing firm with a 10-year track record of supporting businesses that make a meaningful contribution to USAID’s Sustainable Development Goals. In partnership with USAID, Deetken Impact launched the Investment, Enterprise, and Sustainability (INES) program in El Salvador. Through the program, Deetken commits to identifying and supporting at least 10 investments and closing investment transactions totaling at least $20 million. Deetken commits to invest at least $5 million of its own capital for this effort. The selected investments will be drawn from priority sectors that support long-term economic growth while generating social or environmental benefits, such as renewable energy, trade infrastructure, financial inclusion, and sustainable manufacturing. Mobilizing capital into these sectors will support job creation and help to address the root causes driving irregular migration from El Salvador.
DT Institute is a U.S.-headquartered funder and an implementer of peace and development projects focused on co-creation and co-investment, as well as measurable impact and sustainability. DT Institute has committed $750,000 in grant funding to support USAID’s Guatemala Entrepreneurship Development and Innovation (GEDI) Initiative. This grant funding will support incubators, accelerators, or other institutions looking to provide business development services and/or capital investment in small and growing businesses throughout Guatemala.
Duolingo is an education app with over 500 million downloads. Duolingo will commit to ensuring that its content remains free. The company recently created Duolingo ABC, an app designed to teach early literacy skills to children. In order to reduce high levels of illiteracy in the Northern Triangle, Duolingo will commit to developing Duolingo ABC in Spanish. Duolingo will also commit to providing fee waivers for the Duolingo English Test to high-achieving, low-income students to reduce barriers to higher education. Combined, these efforts will expand access to education in the region through the use of technology, helping to improve people’s livelihoods and prospects for a better future.
Fundación Rafael Meza Ayau (FRMA)
FRMA is a Salvadoran philanthropic organization that works with local communities to improve their economic and social development. FRMA directly committed over $802,000 to co-fund a project with USAID in Soyapango, the third most densely populated municipality in El Salvador with high rates of unemployment and violence. Including its contribution, FRMA raised a total of $1.9 million in private sector funds through partnerships. The project will improve Soyapango residents’ quality of life through increased employment, improved education, and early childhood development.
Fundación Terra, an independent foundation funded by contributions from Terra Inversiones, which works in the energy, petroleum, retail, and real-estate sectors, will invest $24.5 million in new programs over 5 years. These programs will support secondary education, digital access, entrepreneurship, and environmental conservation, including scholarships to tutor 40,000 students in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in Math and Spanish, which will promote financial inclusion.
Gap Inc. is committed to sourcing in Central America, and their current production in Central America supports an estimated 8,200 manufacturing jobs in the region held primarily by women. Gap Inc. plans to increase its sourcing in Central America by approximately $50 million per year, for a total growth commitment of $150 million by 2025, as part of its strategy to increase supply chain resilience by nearshoring more production to the Western Hemisphere. These increased purchases from the region will support an estimated 5,000 additional jobs in Central America.
Grupo Mariposa is a Guatemalan food and beverage company with operations throughout Latin America. Grupo Mariposa will provide more than 70,000 neighborhood stores (‘tiendas’)—which serve as important community hubs—with access to credit and digital tools to improve administrative management. It will support 3,500 small and medium-enterprises (SMEs) with access to telemedicine, education, and internet connectivity, impacting more than 200,000 people and expanding healthcare and telemedicine solutions to 2,000 remote communities. In addition, it will invest more than $10 million to grow its coffee footprint, creating more than 500 new jobs and supporting more than 400 small and medium-sized coffee producers to increase productivity and earnings potential. Finally, with the support of SOPHIA Oxford, Inc., a non-profit partner of the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI), Grupo Mariposa adopted the United Nations Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index (MDI) as a biannual measure of its employees’ well-being, going beyond wages to include a household’s access to healthcare, nutrition, and education. Grupo Mariposa will expand this program to create the conditions to eradicate multi-dimensional poverty with support for employees and their families to reduce their debts, pursue entrepreneurship, and access education and healthcare.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health brings together experts from multiple disciplines to improve the lives and health of people around the globe. The Harvard Chan School commits to adding an evidence-based lens by harnessing scientific data to maximize capacity to measure and report systems-wide impact of the partnership. Harnessing qualitative and quantitative metrics, the School will provide partners and managers with the means to pilot and scale activities that support data-sharing in order to foster transformative change across all communities, platforms, and sectors.
Heifer International is a U.S.-headquartered, global non-profit organization dedicated to ending hunger and poverty. In support of the Call to Action, Heifer International commits $1 million in grant and investment funds to support small and growing enterprises in Guatemala through USAID’s Guatemala Entrepreneurship Development and Innovation (GEDI) Initiative.
The Honduran Coffee Company (CoHonducafe) and Grupo Cadelga
CoHonducafe is a Honduran coffee company, and the largest exporter by volume of coffee in Central America, dedicated to the commercialization and export of Honduran coffee. A partner of USAID since 2016, CoHonducafe is committing an additional $2.9 million to USAID’s Coffee Alliance activity in response to the Call to Action. Grupo Caldega is one of Honduras’ largest agricultural input distributors, with operations in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Colombia. Grupo Caldega commits to help strengthen agricultural extension and training services to smallholder farmers benefiting from USAID’s Coffee Alliance program through a contribution of $850,000. With these additional funds, the Alliance will help 10,000 coffee farming families increase farm productivity, diversify farm incomes, and improve access to markets and credit.
JDE Peet’s, the world’s largest pure-play coffee and tea company, is a long-standing partner of USAID. JDE Peet’s plans to increase its financial support for smallholder farmers in the region by 40%. This support will be provided through the implementation of a new series of sustainability programs throughout the Central American coffee belt, in partnership with the Coffee Alliance. The new support programs will include technical expertise, intended to allow for increased productivity, adaptation to the effects of climate change, diversification of incomes, and improved access to markets and credit. As a result of this increase, JDE Peet’s will allocate a total of $2.7 million over the next four years, to expand the reach of its Common Grounds Program in the region. The Coffee Alliance is a public-private partnership among USAID, JDE Peet’s, CoHonducafe (Honduras’ largest coffee exporter), the CoHonducafe Foundation, and Grupo Cadelga (Honduras’ largest agricultural input supplier). The increased contribution from JDE Peet’s will enable the Coffee Alliance to reach 10,000 additional smallholder coffee farming households, doubling its active footprint in the region.
In May 2021, Mastercard committed to bring 5 million people in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras into the formal financial economy and to digitize 1 million micro and small businesses. In December 2021, Mastercard committed $100 million in investment in the region, and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Economy of Guatemala to establish a Digital Country Partnership to facilitate digital acceleration in areas such as commerce, social benefit payments, transportation, tourism, and economic development for small and medium-sized companies. In addition, Mastercard has partnered with Walmart to enable access to credit for underserved citizens, and with Accion to digitize agricultural value chains and drive stronger financial inclusion for small shareholder farmers in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
Microsoft commits to build on its long-standing presence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to bring connectivity, skills, and greater opportunity to their citizens. First, with local partners, Microsoft will expand internet access to up to three million people in the region by July 2022, and a total of four million by 2024, as part of the Microsoft Airband Initiative. Microsoft will also expand its work with partner New Sun Road to establish community centers to provide internet, digital skills, devices, educational experiences and mentorship to women and youth in rural and high-migration areas. Second, Microsoft will build on its global skills initiative to provide access to digital skills learning paths to connect people to skills and certifications, training over 100,000 individuals in by 2024. Third, Microsoft is investing in technology to increase the transparency and accountability of government spending and exploring the use of data science to evaluate the efficacy of interventions to address community needs.
Millicom, a telecommunications company, will invest $700 million to expand and maintain its mobile and broadband networks in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador over the next two years. This investment will advance Millicom’s efforts to accelerate economic growth in the region via increased connectivity as penetration rates for broadband in these markets are well below regional averages. In addition, Millicom’s investments will be made in line with the Race to Zero, the UN-backed campaign aimed at promoting a healthy, resilient, zero-carbon recovery.
Nespresso aims to support the economies of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras with a minimum of $150 million spent across coffee purchases, price premiums, and technical assistance by 2025, more than doubling both the number of coffee farms it works with and total coffee volumes. Nespresso focuses on improving yields and quality to drive revenues, paying higher prices for high quality coffee and driving activities to improve livelihoods, providing free agronomy support, promoting human rights protection and gender equality, and building resilience to climate change through regenerative agricultural practices and agroforestry. Nespresso will also pilot an innovative crop insurance program designed to help protect farmers against the effects of climate change during next year’s harvest. To help empower women and raise the percentage of female farmers, Nespresso has provided its agronomists — 41% of whom are women — with training focused on gender equity. In addition, Nespresso is providing safe and educational places for children by funding 25 daycare centers during this year’s harvest in Guatemala.
Pantaleon, a conglomerate including investments in agroindustry and real-estate, will invest $9.4 million to fund the initial phase of a 1,200-acre industrial park on Guatemala´s Southern Coast. Once completed, the park is expected to house a mix of manufacturing, logistics, and distribution businesses, among others.
With a new investment of $150 million, Parkdale Mills, one of the largest providers of spun yarns and cotton consumer products in the world, will build a new yarn spinning facility in Honduras and support an existing facility in Virginia, with the hope of providing customers with sources for purchasing 1 million pounds of yarn per week within the region and increasing U.S. supply chain resilience. The investment is intended to support roughly 500 employees at each location and increase indirect job growth in Honduras and in the United States, particularly in the U.S. cotton industry across 18 states. The investment also includes $24 million in new investments in solar energy, water recapture, and energy efficient HVAC systems.
PepsiCo is a global food and beverage company with a long-standing presence in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. PepsiCo directly operates its food business with a regional manufacturing hub in Guatemala, employing over 4,000 people directly, and generating at least an additional 6,800 indirect jobs through its supply chain. PepsiCo expects to invest at least $190 million in northern Central America through 2025, including with improvements to its infrastructure and manufacturing plants; expansion of new distribution routes; IT projects; and investments aligned with its “pep+” (PepsiCo Positive) agenda. This includes spreading regenerative farming practices across seven million acres (which is approximately the size of the company’s entire agricultural footprint), becoming Net Water Positive by 2030 by reducing absolute water use and replenishing watersheds, and achieving net-zero emissions by 2040 by increasing the use of renewable energy, among other efforts.
PriceSmart operates 49 U.S.-style membership shopping warehouse clubs in 12 countries and the U.S. Virgin Islands and opened its fifth store in Guatemala in October. PriceSmart has operated in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras for 22 years. With close to 2,000 employees and 700,000 members in northern Central America, it has long been a partner of USAID—including most recently in announcing a new commitment as part of USAID’s $56 million Guatemalan Entrepreneurship and Development Innovation (GEDI) Initiative, which the Vice President announced in June. Building upon that announcement, PriceSmart is committing to additional support of GEDI, and this support, alongside other GEDI partners, will reach at least 500 entrepreneurs with business support services to help them grow and create jobs in areas of high out-migration.
Pro Mujer commits to reaching three million people in northern Central America by bringing access to finance and entrepreneurship support directly, and with the collaboration of local partners, to vulnerable communities, including low-income families, rural and indigenous populations. In addition, Pro Mujer commits to structuring and launching blended finance vehicles that provide capital, technical assistance, and capacity building support to micro, small and medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in northern Central America. This critical support to MSMEs and the services Pro Mujer intends to bring to individuals and families will together have a transformative effect on these communities and directly address the root causes of migration from the region.
U.S.-based Root Capital invests in the growth of agricultural enterprises that are building a more prosperous, inclusive, and resilient future for rural communities. It expands access to finance for enterprises whose credit needs are too big for microfinance and too risky for commercial banks, distributing to date $1.6 billion to improve the lives of more than 10 million people in farming families. Root Capital commits to lending an additional $1.4 million in Guatemala in partnership with USAID as part of the Guatemala Entrepreneurship Development and Innovation (GEDI) Initiative, which will help small businesses grow and access capital.
SanMar, a U.S.-based apparel wholesaler, will increase its purchases of products manufactured in northern Central America by $500 million by 2025. These purchases will support the supply of products to SanMar’s over 60,000 customers, the overwhelming majority of which are American small businesses engaged in domestic light manufacturing. The increased capacity required for this growth will lead to the creation of 4,000 additional full-time jobs at Elcatex, a Honduras-based apparel manufacturer owned in part by SanMar.
Starbucks works to help strengthen communities around the world, through its commitment to sourcing coffee responsibly for the betterment of people and planet. Starbucks is one of the largest buyers of high quality arabica coffee in Guatemala, verified as ethically sourced by Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices standards. Starbucks committed $15 million to USAID’s Guatemala Entrepreneurship Development and Innovation (GEDI) Initiative, and will collaborate with the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) on efforts to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem for small and growing businesses in Guatemala, including those that involve smallholder coffee farmers. This work will continue Starbucks’ efforts to support coffee farming communities, through access to information and resources, education, economic empowerment for women, and climate and community resiliency.
Tent Partnership for Refugees
The Tent Partnership pledges to share best practices and lessons learned with the Partnership for Central America. In addition, Tent will leverage its business network to raise awareness of the root causes of migration and how companies can help improve conditions in Central America.
Unifi, a company that produces recycled and synthetic yarns, established its manufacturing and sales operation in El Salvador (Unifi Central America) in 2010 and has been invested in El Salvador and the region since then. Unifi is making significant investments in the footprint capacity and innovation of its El Salvadoran operation and has committed to investing $15 million over the next five years to expand capacity, improve efficiency, and reduce energy use. The investment includes new innovative texturing technology that will increase the company’s polyester yarn production in El Salvador by 40% and support continuous training and job growth in the region.
Visa will invest more than $270 million over the next five years to expand financial inclusion and digital infrastructure, with the goal of adding 6.5 million people and 1 million small and medium enterprises (SMEs) into the formal financial system in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Visa will focus on helping the local financial sector deploy innovative payment technology, improving citizens’ financial capabilities while driving efficiencies in key areas of the economy including: agriculture, digital disbursement of government subsidies, and remittances, while also expanding financial education for citizens and SMEs, thus increasing acceptance of digital payments and bringing more people into the formal economy.
World Economic Forum
The World Economic Forum will convene a network of committed actors over time, with a special focus on the role that long-term, sustainable investment can play in transforming the lives and well-being of citizens throughout the area. To do so, the Forum would facilitate collaboration between governments, civil society, business, development institutions, and others to address the root causes of migration and for northern Central American countries to realize their potential towards sustainable and inclusive growth and for quality job creation.
Yazaki North America, an automotive components producer, will invest an additional $110 million to hire over 14,000 new employees in Guatemala and El Salvador by the end of 2026. This builds upon a recent announcement to invest $10 million in a new factory in Guatemala, which is scheduled to start production with its first 1,000 employees in January 2023. Yazaki NA provides electrical wire harnesses for General Motors, Ford, Stellantis, and other global automakers.