One of the greatest rewards of my job is getting to know the people who benefit from our projects. On one of my trips to San Pedro Sula, I met Atanasia, a Garífuna woman from Cusuna, Colón. She is part of a group of 150 Garífuna women who, thanks to the help of USAID, market her casabe and other cassava products, improving their families’ economic opportunities. I am convinced that our projects transform lives.
Mr. Roberto Zamora, Executive President of Grupo Lafise; Mrs. María Josefina Zamora de Terán, President of the Zamora Terán Foundation; Mrs. Lizzeth Villatoro, General Manager, Banco Lafise Honduras; Mr. Marcio Sierra, President of the National Commission of Banks and Insurance; Mr. Scott Nathan, Executive Director of the Development Finance Corporation; distinguished guests; and members of the press.
Today I want to talk a little about these new initiatives that transform and improve the lives of Hondurans. Supporting small and medium-sized businesses is of great importance to the Honduran economy. This support generates income and employment opportunities, in urban and rural areas.
The United States government has set its sights on Central America. Through the En sus Manos initiative, working together with the private sector, it is planned to empower, train, and economically protect women in the north of Central America.
Another example is Prosperous Woman. Implemented by USAID, Mujer Prospera is an initiative that promotes gender equality, economic security, employment, and entrepreneurship for women in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. It addresses the root causes of irregular migration and offers alternatives to find a promising future without the need to migrate.
Today, Grupo Lafise presents us with “SMEs with a Gender Approach”. This Lafise initiative is an opportunity to continue promoting investment and employment. For me it is a pleasure to know that the United States has the opportunity to contribute to this initiative that supports women entrepreneurs in Honduras. Thanks to SMEs with a Gender Focus, women owners of their small and medium-sized businesses will have the option to grow. These small businesses are sources of work and income for many people.
SMEs with a Gender Approach is the first operation in Honduras of the United States Finance Corporation for International Development (DFC). DFC makes available a guarantee fund that will facilitate access to credit for smaller businesses, particularly those led by women. It is important to mention the support and experience of the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank.Your contribution helped develop this offering, integrating the bank’s financial services.Access to credit is just one of the barriers faced by women in Honduras.
Today with SMEs with a Gender Approach, this is left behind. Now women like Juventina, a jewelry businesswoman who produces coffee and employs more than 25 people, will be able to opt for better credit options.Promoting women as active members of the country’s economy generates income and employment.It is a step in the right direction to close gender gaps.
In closing, I want to leave you with this message:Investing in companies led by women is good business.
According to the Boston Consulting Group, for every dollar invested in these companies, double the profits are obtained. Women use their resources to reinvest in the health, education, and well-being of their families and neighbors. It demonstrates the critical importance of the financial sector not only in stimulating economic growth but also in reducing inequality and creating opportunity for all.
I congratulate our partners in this initiative for their leadership and actions such as the one presented today.
Forward women entrepreneurs!