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• Guatemala
• El Salvador
• Honduras

Service Centers for the Entrepreneurial Endeavors of Women
CSEMs in practice

CSEMs operate in the facilities of LEDAs or other institutions present in the territory, such as municipalities and consortiums at the municipalities or universities. Each CSEM has a technical team, coordinated by a professional woman with leadership skills, the ability to build relationships with the territorial actors and experience in local economic development management. The fact that CSEMs are part of a local development agency, which integrates the private and public sectors, facilitates the communication with local and national entities in charge of supporting these processes.

offer their services in the frame of national politics that support micro and small businesses, entering into agreements of collaboration with competent national institutions.

The main characteristic
of a CSEM is to operate in the territory in an articulate fashion with the other public and private institutions involved in economic development. The services provided depend on the territorial and environmental characteristics, as well as the institutions and actors present, the fnancial system, the way the women and entrepreneurships are organized and the infrastructure in the area. Nevertheless, there are basic operational characteristics, which are summarized below.

Identifying potentials and planning

During the installation phase, a CSEM carries out studies and research to defne the potentiality of the entrepreneurships of the women in the territory.

It puts together an inventory of the entrepreneurships of women and their geographical reference, the character and value of the innovating and scaling potentials through the analysis of the Territorial Value Chain.

The research shows the profle of the entrepreneurships, its strengths and weaknesses (credits, certifcations, access to markets, quality and training level). The studies, which involve local universities, are determining so that the CSEM may design the services according to women’s needs, within the frame of the compared potentiality and advantages in the territory.

Furthermore, the CSEM develops the activities to ensure that the plans developed through investigation are included in the municipal and departmental development plans. The CSEM seeks that women entrepreneurs gain strength and legitimacy in public spaces and can incorporate their interests into policies, programs and service plans at all levels of government.

The CSEM develops promotional and informational material, campaigns for radio and conferences with the purpose of including the largest amount of women in the territory. These information activities and promotion allow for the database of geographical reference data of the entrepreneurships to be validated. Thus introducing the services available to the actors of the territories and allowing the CSEM to be seen as an instrument for women to set their economic initiatives. Communication with the national actors and cooperating organizations is very important, also, to identity new opportunities of technical and fnancial exchange as well as new markets.

The CSEM organizes, in collaboration with local universities, informational conferences with students and teachers to stimulate and motivate young women to promote entrepreneurial projects.

Technical assistance for the creation of business plans and resource management

their territorial window, the CSEM develops technical assistance activities in collaboration with the LEDA and other specialized institutions.

The assistance
includes the process of getting financial help for those entrepreneurial projects that are coherent with the defned plans of territorial development in an organized fashion and with the business promotion strategies defned in the research.

can have its own funds for direct fnancing of the economic activities of entrepreneurial women those involved in micro business.

For managing
the credit funds, a CSEM that operates within the frame of a LEDA usually establishes a trust fund with a fnancial institution that is able to administer the funds.
The LEDA provides the services of granting and recovering the credits according to policies, norms and procedures agreed upon in the Credit Regulations and the Agreement Letter, both of which are subscribed. A Trust Fund Committee guarantees the faithful compliance of the policies and agreements. The approval and supervision of the credit activities is carries out by a Credit Committee, integrated by organizations of women who represent political and/or institutional power of citizen participation, the CSEM and the LEDA.

In many
cases, the CSEMs also foresee the usage of a fund as seed capital, destined to support the initial capitalization of the businesses. All CSEMs have achieved to mobilize fnancing for credit activities of banks and fnancial institutions of the territories, or national governmental institutions, international organizations and other actors.

Technical assistance for the implementation of projects

Once the fnancing has been approved and put into operation, and in order to maximize the probabilities of success, training and technical assistance are implemented in situ for each entrepreneur, according to each project’s needs.

The CSEM stands by throughout all phases of the cycle of the project, from its planning to its full implementation, guaranteeing attention ad-hoc the entrepreneur.

Regarding product
exposure, the participation of women in fairs is promoted, in collaboration with the governing institutions on micro and small business policies, learning centers and universities.

Training of the entrepreneurs

Many of the entrepreneurs that ask for help from the CSEM in the various countries fnd that the commercialization of their products is the main problem. Other entrepreneurs need to formalize their enterprises to carry out the extension and consolidation process.

A CSEM offers its fnancial and business services to those entrepreneurships that have a larger scaling potential. However, they simultaneously attend to the demand of entrepreneurs with less strategic projects, creating the minimal conditions for future projects of greater impact.

To achieve this purpose, one of the strategic roles of a CSEM is the training of the entrepreneurs, which is carried out in collaboration with learning centers and universities.

Based on
the needs identifed during the research phase, groups of women are organized according to the type of entrepreneurship, and the ideal training strategies are defned. Experts, teachers and the groups of entrepreneurs put together the training curriculum and, fnally, the teaching materials and modules are created and developed.

Trainings represent an opportunity for technical learning and an important moment of socialization and autonomic construction, and self-esteem. Training on business topics can be complemented with other subjects of interest of the users.

Impact on public policies

When the CSEM has positioned itself as a representative of the entrepreneurs and is recognized in the territory, the needs, the knowledge, the innovative practices and the proposals presented by the entrepreneurs are considered in public policies and in the municipal and departmental budgets.

Through the CSEM
, women organizations in the territory build alliances and tighten their links to political-administrative decentralization institutions (municipal and departmental development councils) to have impact on their platforms and actions, and take advantage of the opportunities offered by international cooperation organizations.

The CSEMs network of Central America has started to train a critical, plural and diffused mass that will advocate the economic rights of Central American women.