SMART ECONOMY

Clean production, economic inclusion and integration, 
sustainability of local trades, and more.

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EMPOWERING WOMEN IN THE ECONOMY

Jabones de La Guaria

Artisanal Soap Start-up Enterprise

Awarded Grant, 2016

HISTORIA DE IMPACTO

  "We are mainly housewives, which is why this experience has been the definition of our empowerment as women", says Etelvina, treasurer for Jabones La Guaria.

"There are no ways to make a living without having to walk long distances" shares Eberny, president of the startup and resident of La Guaria, a small community on the road up towards the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Eberny and four other women are dedicated to developing their microenterprise by fabricating and selling all-natural decorative and therapeutical soap, made by hand.

"It's necessary to train, educate and advise housewives in our communities by providing tools and helping them acquire new abilities that will help them in the world of microenterprises. Women through diversity of entrepreneurship are the motors of family and regional economy." says Mercedes, local biologist and educator.

Mercedes has worked alongside Eberny, Etelvina and her coworkers since 2015. "At the beginning, they financed the company completely out of pocket- specially with money that was intended for food. We have supported them with empowerment workshops, business development tools and travel money. Then, they received a donation from the Monteverde Community Fund". 

"The Fund gave us a much needed push forward. We fixed our work areas, improved our production and now we're closer to our long term goal", shares Etelvina. The women at Jabones La Guaria are working to obtain legal status, and, lastly, to build a greenhouse and offer a larger variety of handmade products.

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SMART ECONOMY FUND

Financial resources for projects that address local challenges such as clean production, economic inclusion and integration, and the sustainability of local trades, among others.

A Bit of Background

Our concept of regional economy is made up of three elements: individuals, businesses and the environment in which they operate. It is traditionally valued according to the capacity of the area's labor force, its existing employment opportunities, the competitiveness and efficiency of its businesses, and its gross production.

Our concept of a smart economy is the sum of actions by community, sectorial and governmental leaders who influence the direction of the economy in a proactive, deliberate and concerted manner. In this concept, there is a recognition of the integral relationship between the three elements of a regional economy, taking into account their evolving needs at various times, depending on their own growth and changing conditions over time. Finally, it considers the needs of future generations and the impacts (negative or positive) of productive activities on society and on the environment.

 

ECONOMIC CHALLENGES

Currently, the Monteverde region has a mixed economy based mainly on tourism (e.g. eco-tourism, agro-ecological, rural community and adventure) and agriculture (e.g. coffee, dairy products, vegetables and meat animals). . Although historically these industries have provided many employment opportunities, and have brought much prosperity to the area, they face a less certain future due to factors such as:

  • Greater competition from other tourist destinations;

  • Globalization of the dairy industry and uncertainty about the Cheese Factory as the future nucleus of local production;

  • The progressive homogenization of the specific products and of the economy in general;

  • Threats posed by climate change;

  • Degradation of natural resources and reduction of environmental services;

  • Loss of cooperativism between producers and entrepreneurs around collaborative initiatives or shared brands;

  • Shortage of new job opportunities and professional growth for young people between 17 and 25 years old;

  • Increase in production costs, especially caused by oil-based inputs;

  • Inaccessibility of capital for new ventures and for participants of the "informal sector";

  • Lack of a common defined vision for each sector and the articulation of related actions; and

  • Absence of legal mechanisms to straighten out property issues.


Opportunities and Weaknesses. At the national level there are many public institutions designed to support the productive sector. Among them are: MEIC, MTSS, MAG, ICT, CNP, INA, Municipal Councils, Banks and Universities. There are also specialized organizations at the regional level that can develop projects such as Chambers, Producer Associations, Integral Development Associations and private NGOs. These institutions present significant opportunities for the traditional development of individuals, businesses and the market environment.

However, there is sometimes a lack of easily available financial resources that can serve as a seed to catalyze local-based projects.

SMART ECONOMY FUND'S PURPOSE

This Fund is a complementary tool to promote a smart economy in accordance with the local vision. In this way, we can fill this void and generate opportunities to leverage additional resources from other sources.

The goal of this program is to finance projects that succeed in:

  • Strengthening the basis in knowledge and participatory planning that inform decision-making and that allow the coordination of strategic actions between organizations that promote a smart economy;

  • Reducing the ecological and social footprint of productive activities through sustainable practices, either by means of the raw material used, processes used in production or rendering of services, operational norms or the distribution of final products;

  • Encouraging cooperation and linkages between businesses, associations and sub-regions that increase or improve the production of local products and services;

  • Increasing the capacity of new enterprises and actors in the "informal sector" to participate in the regional economy in a fair, dignified, legal and sustainable manner; and

  • Adding value to the products or services generated by a specific group in our region while generating social and environmental benefits at the local level.

Would you like to support our efforts?

 

Monteverde Community Fund

Provincia de Puntarenas, Monteverde, Costa Rica

©2019 by Fondo Comunitario Monteverde. Photos courtesy of Mau Valverde, Maria Vargas and other Monteverde community members.