In Azabache we met Ever Perez. He is a 28 year old father of two who started his own wood working company with the support of Vecinos Honduras (VH). After finishing school at grade 9 he wanted to become an engineer but his parents could not afford to send him away to complete high school and attend university. Instead, he worked locally as a labourer. One of his hobbies was woodworking and he would carve keychains. He was selling them at a local fair when he met Manuel Castellanos, the facilitator with VH. VH was looking for young people who might be interested in learning some entrepreneurial skills.
Ever worked with Manuel to create a business proposal and to apply for a small loan from VH (the money was supplied by Groundswell, an American NGO whose methodology is similar to World Neighbours). With his loan he was able to buy a couple power tools as he was previously doing all his work by hand. He paid back the loan and took out another loan to buy a generator and some land to build an actual shop.
Ever said his business is very busy. He has hired two employees to help him. His little company builds everything from doors, bedframes, boxes, novelties, and decorations. He says he has plenty of work. His business makes it possible to stay in the community and raise his children here.
Vecinos Honduras has worked with communities in Azabache for twelve years and plans to leave by the end of 2023. Towards the end of the project, after working on capacity building, agroecology, water, and maternal/child health, the community was looking for ways to help keep their young people in the area as employment option are limited. Working with the communities, Vecinos Honduras, supported by other agencies, began working with many young adults on how to become entrepreneurs. Various trainings were provided to support the development of business ideas. Small loans were also available to help the participants made key purchases.
Outside funding ended to properly complete supporting these entrepreneurs and community groups (more to come on that later). World Neighbours Canada has stepped in to support VH in these communities to ensure that these enterprises learn proper bookkeeping and other essential administrative skills to help ensure their success. Ever admits that the administrative side of the business is his least favourite but he is proud of what he has been able to build in three years.
This February, World Neighbours Canada (WNC) board members Gabriel Newman and Judy Gray along with WNC volunteer Peter Gray visited Honduras to see the work that was being done by our partners there, Vecinos Honduras. They will be sharing stories and information that they have gathered over the next few months. Write up by Gabriel Newman. Photos by Judy Gray.