World Council of Credit Unions’ Economic Inclusion Project and its partners in Peru worked in August to assist Venezuelans migrants—ranging from aspiring entrepreneurs to trained medical doctors—with restoring their livelihoods in a new country.
The Economic Inclusion Project, financed by USAID, has supported the design of the Plan for the Reactivation of Entrepreneurs, also known as the School of Dreamers.
Developed with Unión Venezolana en Perú (UVP), a local NGO, the goal of the program is to create needed opportunities for alternative sources of income for the Venezuelan migrant population, which has felt harsh impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This joint effort has made it possible to design the program for entrepreneurs based on a proprietary methodology which supports each entrepreneur in developing interpersonal and business management skills, aiming to prepare them to develop go-to-market business plans poised for success.
Forty-two people joined UVP for two days of virtual workshops to improve their entrepreneurship skills. The first workshop, DESPEGA, helped aspiring entrepreneurs generate new business ideas. The second, CRECE, helped existing entrepreneurs determine how to strengthen their businesses and be prepared to bounce back from the impact of COVID-19.
“With this program we can open up a path towards becoming successful entrepreneurs in a country that offers many possibilities,¨ said Gabriela Serrano, a 35 year-old Venezuelan professional who participated in the CRECE workshop.
Serrano has had intermittent and sporadic opportunities for work at several companies while she has continued to develop her own business on the side. She produces modern, versatile and comfortable accessories for women. Her products have a unique Peruvian flair, using local materials such as fabrics and metals.
41-year-old Rusmery Moreno, a business professional and mother who participated in the DESPEGA workshop, works part-time at a company, but has been developing her own business over the past six months. She produces and sells artisanal soaps made from glycerin. Her products are made from 100% organic and natural ingredients, including the coloring and fragrances created with natural essential oils.
¨(This project) represents the integration between countries and an opportunity for entrepreneurs. I am thankful for the initiative,¨ said Moreno.
Since beginning their business ventures, Gabriela and Rusmery have both had to confront significant barriers, some of which remain a challenge to this day, including difficulty in accessing financing and knowing what tools may be available to help them manage their businesses. These women dream of becoming economically independent through their businesses. It is a dream that, step by step, will come to life precisely because of training programs such as the School of Dreamers.
The President of UVP, Oscar Perez, thanks USAID and the Project for the support of the program, which had been something he had hoped to make a reality for some time. Now, as the School of Dreamers begins, it is generating opportunities for new and existing Venezuelan entrepreneurs in Peru.
At the end of the program, there will be an opportunity for entrepreneurs to test their products and services before they go to market. They may also be able to access a seed capital fund, as well as financial education and connections to financial institutions to support their business. This includes access to savings, loans and insurance.
Helping Venezuelan professionals obtain credentials
The Economic Inclusion Project has also supported the Productive Assimilation Plan to help Venezuelan professionals find work in their respective fields of expertise. So far, it has helped 50 Venezuelan doctors begin the process of revalidating their medical degrees and professional credentials in order to legally work as doctors in their host country. The project has also identified 100 teachers to support with training and connect them to job openings, including those offered by the Peruvian government and private organizations.
The Economic Inclusion Project’s goal is to support 10,000 Venezuelans and locals, including 2,000 professionals, with training in soft skills, managerial skills and financial services. The Project also seeks to provide support in making connections with private and public institutions that have employment openings and opportunities.