On 2 February 2016, seven young women graduated from FEMBUZ (Female Entrepreneurs in Buffer Zones), a pilot project developed by Raleigh International with funding from the British Embassy San Jose. The programme was designed to strengthen the economic and social development of communities within protected areas in Costa Rica as well as to promote the conservation of those areas’ natural resources, through capacity building for women in the selected communities.
The programme had the particularity of having taken place in Nicaragua, reinforcing links between the neighbouring countries through the sharing of best practices.
“It has been really impressive and gratifying to see your achievements over the past months,” said Ambassador Ross Denny.
“This success is due, in part, to Raleigh International’s experience as an implementer, but is also because of the incredible commitment of each of you who participated in the project, and had to leave your families for some time to stay in the neighbouring country of Nicaragua.”
During the twelve week project, the budding female entrepreneurs lived with Nicaraguan families, while they worked alongside like-minded Nicaraguan women, learning the fundamentals of starting their own social businesses, from creating business plans to building marketing strategies.
According to Social Enterprise UK, social enterprises “trade to tackle social problems, improve communities, people’s life chances, or the environment.” The finalised business plans ranged from honey production to tour operator services to the establishment of a yoga centre that would provide free classes for the elderly in the community.
Ambassador Denny congratulated each of the young women on their decision to establish a social enterprise, remarking that “this decision demonstrates that each of you had the vision to identify a need or problem in your community and then had the courage to say ‘I want to make a change.’”
Ambassador Denny then presented the graduates with a certificate of completion and wished them all well with their future plans.