CIPE Launches Central America Regional Youth Entrepreneurship project: Soy Colmena Creativa

10.13.2021 | Daniella Martinelli

Latin America is facing unprecedented rates of emigration and citizen disengagement, particularly among the youth and marginalized populations.

RNGG’s Noemi López giving a virtual presentation on the project in Santa Ana, El Salvador.

In response, CIPE began the Central America Regional Youth Entrepreneurship (CARE) program to stimulate youth civic engagement and entrepreneurship in the region.

Since 2016 CIPE has worked in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala on the “Xelajú Naranja” program:  an entrepreneurship training program for youth in the creative industries sector, also known as the Orange Economy. Because of Xelajú Naranja’s success in building the local creative industry ecosystem, the CARE project started as an expansion to three new communities in Central America: Suchitepéquez and Huehuetenango, Guatemala, and Santa Ana, El Salvador.

The expansion of the creative industries entrepreneurship training program to new communities across the region will provide the building blocks for stronger innovation in the region and greater democratic participation in Central American societies. CIPE is identifying local implementing partners for the project. They will work with CIPE and the National Network of Managers’ Groups (RNGG), the implementing partner of the Xelajú Naranja program, to adapt the entrepreneurship training curriculum and previous methodologies to design community-specific activities.

“The way to increase and strengthen the local economy is by bringing in the youth and helping them understand they are part of the social and economic ecosystem of the Santa Ana community.”

The CARE project took on the branding of ”Soy Colmena Creativawhich translates to ”I am a Creative Hive.” The new name gives a clearer idea of the program’s intent to generate awareness and interest of the creative sectors among youth and the wider community.

Opening statements at the launch event of Soy Colmena Creativa in Suchitepéquez, Guatemala.

To mark the start of the project, CIPE and RNGG hosted launch events in each of the three communities. These events publicized the project, brought together stakeholders, including other

entrepreneur-support organizations, and served as an introduction to potential youth participants. The first launch events were held in Suchitepéquez and Huehuetenango in July 2021. In Suchitepéquez, 45 local entrepreneurs, representatives of the system, and media gathered. In the Huehuetenango launch event, 65 local entrepreneurs attended alongside local government officials and local associations. Given the challenges of hosting large groups during the pandemic, Facebook and social media helped broaden the reach of these events, as 50 people joined the live broadcasting of the launch.

The Santa Ana launch event took place in August, gathering 25 local entrepreneurs and 30 virtual participants. The event reached more than 1,507 views on Facebook thanks to a local, Salvadoran news channel that attended and interviewed CIPE staff and Salvadoran officials about the project. At the launch in Santa Ana, Mario Melgar, the president of the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce said, “the way to increase and strengthen the local economy is by bringing in the youth and helping them understand they are part of the social and economic ecosystem of the Santa Ana community.”

Since the launch event in Suchitepéquez, Soy Colmena Creativa completed its Orange Economy training program, highlighting entrepreneurial skills for 30 upstarting youth, and started the development of the Creative Consortium. CIPE and RNGG will continue implementing the framework in the other communities, connecting with local actors to synergize efforts. In Huehuetenango, the project was promoted in CONJUVE’s entrepreneurship contest. In 2022, CIPE will bring together participants from the three communities to host a regional entrepreneurship fair and strengthen the ecosystems not just within municipalities but across the region.

Huehuetenango’s launch event of Soy Colmena Creativa.