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02 Jul / 2004

FIRST DISBURSEMENTS MADE TO TOURISM MICRO-BUSINESSES IN LA CEIBA AND TELA

Lps. 20 million will go to small businesses in Omoa, Tela, La Ceiba, Trujillo, Guanaja and Utila.

The first group of 20 micro- and small businesses received disbursements of seed capital to bolster activities in the tourism sector as part of the Business Promotion Program – an initiative of the Honduran Institute of Tourism’s Sustainable Coastal Tourism Project that seeks with funding from the World Bank to encourage growth of micro- and small tourism businesses along the Honduran Caribbean.The disbursements were made on June 17 and 18 in La Ceiba and Tela.

The Business Promotion Program – also known ad the Prosperity Fund – wascreated to provide seed capital to micro- and small businesses operating in the tourism industry in Omoa, Tela, La Ceiba, Trujillo, Guanaja and Utila.It is managed by CHF International, an organization with extensive experience in the management of programs, portfolios and loans, as well as technical and financial assistance.

The process began by spreading the word among potential beneficiaries about the requirements that must be met to be eligible for the fund.This was done in cooperation with local authorities, labor unions, community organizations and local micro- and small business leaders.Next, CHF International was hired to ensure transparency in the management and disbursement of the fund.

Beneficiaries of the fund may include individual merchants, micro- and small companies, NGOs, the public sector and indigenous and non-indigenous communities, as long as they operate within the program’s target municipalities.

Nearly 330 micro- and small companies attended informational sessions about the fund and submitted forms describing their projects, activities and business plans.A committee consisting of one representative each from the Honduran Institute of Tourism, the Sustainable Coastal Tourism Project, CHF International, the National Chamber of Tourism and the Economy Ministry was created to evaluate the 329 applications, of which 19 came from Omoa, 65 from Tela, 24 from La Ceiba, 105 from Trujillo, 10 from Utila and 106 from Guanaja.

Beneficiaries will be expected to contribute 33% in the case of innovative pilot projects that qualify as micro- or small businesses, and 23% in the case of innovative pilot projects launched by indigenous communities involving micro- and small businesses, NGOs or the public sector.

Ineligible for the program are academic research projects and proposals that threaten the environment, health, infrastructure or security.

Of the 329 applications submitted, the following 20 were the first to receive disbursements:

First Companies Approved
Location
Dancing Garifuna Dolls La Ceiba
Traditional Fishing Sambo Creek, La Ceiba
Luba Ereba Casabe bakery Sambo Creek, La Ceiba
Family artisanal woodworking company La Ceiba
Coyote Grill Restaurant La Ceiba
Dadi Garifuna Crafts Sambo Creek, La Ceiba
La Ceiba Chamber of Tourism (Tourist Information Center) La Ceiba
Recycler of plastic, aluminum and bronze La Ceiba
Los Girasoles Women’s Craft Cooperative La Ceiba
Tours (tourist train) La Ceiba
Seafood sales Rio Tinto, Tela
El Esfuerzo Bakery Triunfo de la Cruz, Tela
Wilson Inn and Eatery La Ensenada, Tela
Colón Cabins and Restaurant (food and lodging) Triunfo de la Cruz, Tela
Panchy Eatery and Cabanas Triunfo de la Cruz, Tela
Mario’s Crafts Triunfo de la Cruz, Tela
Las Gemelas Restaurant (food and lodging) San Juan, Tela
Tourist train La Ensenada, Tela
Hotel Budari La Ensenada, Tela

“I’m proud and deeply moved to receive this funding and I promise that we’ll use this money well,” said Luis Enrique Lopez, a 23-year-old Garifuna business owner who runs a traditional crafts shop in Sambo Creek, La Ceiba.“Our company is a group of six young people and we believe that this support opens the door to opportunity in our country and keeps us from thinking about looking for other options in the United States.”

Upon receiving her disbursement, Rosa Martina Miguel said, “selling casaba has been a tradition in my family.It allowed my mother to put five daughters through school.”

Among the guests at the disbursement ceremony in La Ceiba on June 17 were: Miriam Leiva, Coordinator of the Sustainable Coastal Tourism Project; Marc Hanson, CHF International’s Prosperity Fund Coordinator; the local media and project beneficiaries.

“This is a very special moment for us as a Project and as part of the Honduran Institute of Tourism because it reflects significant progress in the process since the Sustainable Coastal Development Project was designed with visions of its third phase – the Prosperity Fund,” said Leiva.“Today we deliver the first disbursements to the qualified candidates.This is not take-home money.Even though it is non-repayable funding, it is aimed at strengthening tourism business initiatives and is accompanied by a rigorous process of monitoring, follow-up and evaluation.”

Leiva encouraged the beneficiaries to carry out their projects to the fullest and insisted that they not give up the fightto improve their quality of life, not only for themselves but fortheir families and communities as well.

Among the guests at the disbursement ceremony in Tela were Venesa Merlo of the Sustainable Coastal Development Project’s Municipal Tourism Unit, and Tela Mayor Daniel Flores.

“This is the first time in the history of this municipality that there has been such an initiative to support small business in the tourism industry,” said Flores.“We must take maximum advantage of these resources.We are privileged to have been chosen for what will be one of your greatest commitments made, not only to the community but to the municipality and the country as a whole.”

Marcelo Torres Morales, a Garifuna business owner and proprietor of a craft shop in La Ensenada, said, “I am very thankful to God.Since the Sustainable Coastal Development Project began here we have been hearing about this fund.Now, with great pride, I can say yes, I believe you.”

The remaining applications are currently being evaluated and the next group of beneficiaries will soon be announced in the municipalities of Omoa, Guanaja, Utila and Trujillo, says the Honduran Institute of Tourism.There will also be a second group of beneficiaries chosen in Tela and La Ceiba from among applicants who are currently participating in training sessions to help them improve and redirect their proposals.


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