With enthusiasm and determination, 26 young people from Liceo de Pocora de Guacimo (a local high school neighboring EARTH University) are developing business plans to implement in their communities. Their dreams are becoming reality, thanks to the EARTH-sponsored youth entrepreneurship program Promoviendo Futuras Empresas Rurales (Promoting Future Rural Businesses).
Born of a partnership between EARTH University, the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica and numerous nonprofits including Yo Emprendedor, Global Shapers and Nosotras Woman Connecting, the initiative expands opportunities for young people to secure a better future via entrepreneurship.
“Support for sustainable development and commercial growth benefits the prosperity of Costa Rica and is one of the main goals of the U.S. government,” says the U.S. Embassy’s Office of Public Affairs. “[This project] is key to that effort because it provides young people of vulnerable populations with the necessary experience and tools to be able to lead their own business ventures. In this sense, EARTH University represents a platform in which many key players in the provinces of Limon and Guanacaste converge to bring greater opportunities to these communities, generating a multiplier effect among the young people of each region in favor of a self-determined, entrepreneurial mindset.”
Since April, the students have been participating in workshops and trainings covering three themes: empowerment, innovation and business.
Empowerment. Participants are given tools that dignify rural living and help them to face their fears. They also are assisted in developing soft skills, leadership, and ethical values.
Business. Participants are taught how to identify market opportunities, utilize basic marketing and budgeting tools, evaluate projects, and generate employment for others.
Upon completion of the seven-month program, the young entrepreneurs will present their scalable business plans. Of those, five will be granted $500 USD in seed capital.
“We seek to increase our impact and advance leadership education that will transform rural areas. I am motivated by seeing the direct impact we, as a University, are having,” explains Karina Poveda, program coordinator at EARTH Futures. “It is wonderful to see the confidence that the young people are developing. They feel heard and supported. They know their own potential; they know they matter to us as people. We can leave a mark on their lives, and they can leave a mark on each other’s as well as those of their families and communities.”
Program participants passed through a selection process in which they exhibited genuine interest, an entrepreneurial spirit, a desire to overcome their situation, and an aspiration to sustainably develop their community.
EARTH University embraces a clear, strategic vision that is global and future-focused. Through EARTH Futures, we are building a new, scalable and replicable model for youth empowerment in rural areas – part of our commitment to our value of sustainable development.