Administrator Samantha Power
Thanks to all of you, I apologize [to be he here a little late] to get started, we were having very important discussions, I hope, with the President of this country I have the chance to convey just how important is US and Guatemala relationship […] to the Biden-Harris Administration [and that is the reason] of course in the fact that Vice President Harris choose the country of Guatemala for her first international trip and I too […] Guatemala on my first international trip, we really want to work with the Guatemalan people and Guatemalan private sector to unlock and unleash the creativity and dynamism of the Guatemalans, so I am thrilled to be here at the Silicon Valley con frijoles, in the first technology park, really impressive beautiful space and reflecting I think the Guatemalan dynamic approach that we´re seeing.
I really want to thank the representatives of the private sector who are here today, from American and regional businesses investing in Guatemala, local businesses and our entrepreneurs representing powerful engines on Guatemalans economy. This morning when I was getting briefed by the Ambassador and his tremendous team, including our USAID Mission Director, Anu. The Ambassador shared a troubling statistic with me, that every year about 150,000 Guatemalans enter the workforce, but only 30,000 jobs are available to them. Imagine entering the workforce with such folks, such aspirations, often just the training that you need in order to be able to make a contribution but they find the door shut, no crack, no opening. I think it is important to have this perspective in mind in our conversation today, because is the people in this room who are trying to change that for this country to build economic opportunity and create new jobs particularly for young people who make up 60% of this country. It is businesses like [Grow Global] founded by Diana and her sister who are with us today who persistently demonstrating the potential or innovations in driveway and steps that USAID can take to support them. Diana and Judith saw a niche, a niche in the telecommunications industry where they test websites and mobile applications to make sure that users can easily buy things online and affectively engage with the companies that they transact with. This, as we all know, is crucial for enhancing the user experience for E-commerce businesses [Grow Global] is growing and Diana and her sister face what many entrepreneurs here face, they simply could not find the capital that they needed to expand, to keep up their demands. Diana went to one bank and they told her that they would not give her credit because she was female, single and under 35 years old. USAID helped Diana and her sister pitch the potential of their businesses and negotiated with financial institutions to get the loans that they saw, as a result they secured add loans and reduce their interest’s debts by half, creating ten new jobs in the process. As you put it, our profits were higher, and this allows us to reinvest more in the company to stay straightforward.
This is why I really proud today along with our Ambassador and our Mission Director of USAID Guatemala Entrepreneurship and Development Innovation Program, through this initiative USAID will invest seven and a half (7.5) million dollars and leverage and an additional 31 million from the private sector, to equip Guatemalans entrepreneurs with tools they need bring their ideas to life. Whether it is building resilience to climate change which has reached such common in this region increasing access to renewable energy, strengthening food security, unlocking tech innovation your businesses are helping address some of Guatemalan´s toughest challenges, and USAID will be there to support you along the way.
To help you bring your businesses to scale, to help you attract investment from both local and international investors and I should add that the USAID Administrator in addition to being a member of President Biden´s National Security Council, which President Biden for the first time elevated USAID and I am also the Vice Chair of Development Finance Corporation which I think is an asset we really want to (bare) in this regard. Small and medium businesses play a significant role in the Guatemalan environment, they provide central goods and services and generate more than 80% of the country´s employment. Your businesses provide hope and they provide opportunity and allow to Guatemalans to thrive right here at home. With our Guatemalan Entrepreneurship and Development Innovation Program, I hope and I believe that we will soon hear many more stories like Diana and Judith and that USAID will be eager to work with the private sector to foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem here in Guatemala, partnering with Guatemalan people to create long term sustainable growth and jobs (…) that we together create a more prosperous future for the country. Helping those 150,000 people [who every year go looking for work,] helping them to find new opportunities right here in home. I look forward to meeting with you and hear more about your stories. I also want to express gratitude to the private sector investments that have joined this initiative. It really helps me when I go back to Washington to say “look, we invest in this amount […] as USAID”, “look, what that leverage, what the private sector brought on line to support this effort”. That help us unlock more resources, so I really, really thank to you. Thank you so much.
Ambassador William Popp
[Inaudible] Welcome to this very important event of the Entrepreneurship and Development Innovation Program, the U.S. government recognizes the participation of the private sector which is a fundamental point that unites forces most of all to promote economic development and for that we want to thank all the representatives of the private sector present here to join us in that effort to promote economic development in this great country, and particularly small medium enterprises are the heart of this initiative that we are launching today to create jobs and promote economic growth.
Small and medium-sized enterprises are the engines for job creation and economic opportunity. However, investment financing has been a great challenge and to alleviate that challenge USAID has designed this program that we are launching today to address those very important needs for businesses so that they have access to financing and technical assistance to raise more capital to grow and grow their businesses. This model that we are launching today is focused on the creation and based on the creation of partnerships with the private sector and civil society and others in the international community to maximize our overall and joint impact, and the organizations that we are going to support together through initiative which are developing innovative business solutions, they are feasible solutions and solutions that are going to have a positive impact in various sectors from [agriculture] to renewable energy, and we want to work through this mechanism with you to scale the solutions that these small and medium-sized enterprises have at hand. Guatemalan and U.S. private sector partners [have] joined us USAID and the U.S. government in that effort and have already committed up to [three] thirty-seven million dollars in this initiative, and it is a great achievement and a great commitment, and a sign of the joint commitment that we have to move forward in this line of action.
Prior to her visit to Guatemala, Vice President Harris requested the support of the private sector to increase investment and create economic opportunities for Guatemalans. That is why we are in this event as a reflection of how the private sector has already begun to heed this call by joining an effort, a private-public partnership in this effort and I want on behalf of the Diplomatic Mission of the United States here in Guatemala to thank each of you for participating in that effort. Today we are obviously very honored to have the visit of USAID Administrator, Ambassador Samantha Power here on a visit, her first visit to the region as administrator and we are very honored to have her here participating in this event and the presence of her and her entire delegation is a witness [to] of the success of the efforts made so far to build partnerships between the U.S. government. and the private sector to promote opportunities for economic growth in this country and we are very happy to have the administrator present here for this particular launch, which represents an innovative effort, a new effort, to have a very positive impact and a joint effort to really cause results that we all want to see here in Guatemala, more prosperity, more opportunity and more alternatives to migration. Thank you very much, thank you to the administrator for being here and we are absolutely prepared to work with you and all our partners here to move forward with this new initiative, thank you very much and thank you very much for your presence.