Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas
Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas is a policy-level dialogue that links 15 Western Hemisphere governments and societies that collectively seek to empower small businesses, facilitate trade and regional competitiveness, build a modern and inclusive workforce, and encourage green, sustainable business practices.
Pathways countries include Belize, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Uruguay, and the United States. Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago have observer status. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Organization of American States (OAS), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), are strategic Pathways partners.
On October 2, 2013, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson participated in the sixth Pathways Ministerial in Playa Bonita, Panama.
Partnering to Expand Opportunities
Pathways is a policy-level dialogue where countries share best practices and collaborate to spread the benefits of economic growth more broadly to all of our citizens. Pathways countries recognize that the promise of economic and social opportunity remains elusive for too many people in this hemisphere. Pathways seeks to close this gap by encouraging public policies and public-private partnerships aimed at empowering small farmers, small businesses, women, indigenous communities, Afro-descendants, youth, and other vulnerable groups to participate effectively in the global economy.
Through shared leadership, Pathways partner countries are committed to deepening cooperation through the following four pillars:
- Empowering small businesses by providing access to financial and technical support mechanisms for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);
- Facilitating trade by improving regulations and the infrastructure small firms need to trade more competitively across borders;
- Building a modern workforce by supporting worker rights and fair labor standards and emphasizing the importance of a viable workforce through education, training, and entrepreneurship; and
Promoting sustainable business practices and environmental cooperation by improving environmental practices and protections.
Pathways activities highlight best practices to expand economic opportunities and encourage their effective implementation. Countries chairing Pathways pillars organize events and activities throughout the year that advance the Ministerial Action Plan.
To influence real progress toward Pathway’s goals, the U.S. government and its partners provide technical assistance in Pathways priority areas such as small business development, financial inclusion, infrastructure financing, women entrepreneurs, greening the supply chain, improving environmental practices, and promoting internationally-recognized labor rights, particularly through the following regional projects:
- The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) model expanded to Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama and trained over 320 future SBDC counselors and directors.
- The USAID Development Credit Authority (DCA) initiated three SME credit guarantees in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Mexico this year. These guarantees will allow banks and non-banking financial institutions to extend up to $100 million in additional credit to SMEs at longer terms and lower collateral requirements.
- A Treasury advisory team in El Salvador drafted legislation on mobile financial services, worked to modernize and secure banking, and developed 13 financial literacy radio spots based on materials and best practices shared by Peru.
- Pathways countries worked with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (DHS/CBP), through the Central American Border Management Reform Project to modernize their customs procedures and interagency border management by leveraging public-private partnerships to facilitate increased trade. Commerce and DHS/CBP hosted in-country workshops and led site visits to U.S. ports with Costa Rica, Honduras, and El Salvador during the initial phase of the project and is continuing a second phase with the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Peru and Uruguay.
- WEConnect International provided training to women-owned businesses in Peru and Mexico with support from Pathways. To facilitate the global linkages necessary for entering the export market, the roundtable event in Mexico brought together 45 buyers and 146 sellers and resulted in $6.5 million in deals closed.
- The Pathways to Cleaner Production in the Americas Initiative is a network of NGOs, academia, and the private sector that is training the next generation of cleaner production professionals while helping micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises to green their production practices. In 2013, students and companies in El Salvador and the Dominican Republic participated in pilot courses that strengthened their technical capacity to promote adoption of cleaner production practices.
Pathways Clearinghouse Mechanism
The Pathways Clearinghouse mechanism, which was established in 2012, is broadening the network of Pathways stakeholders and increasing the impact of the initiative through outreach and information sharing. Partner countries worked with the Clearinghouse and external stakeholders to establish focus areas of cooperation and set up a framework for identifying shared challenges.
The Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas initiative will continue building on this year’s successes. A Challenge Competition will be launched, which, with the network of stakeholders built by the Clearinghouse, will help identify innovative solutions to shared challenges in the four areas of cooperation. By sourcing innovative, sustainable, scalable ideas emanating from Pathways stakeholders, we will increase the impact of the initiative and help generate inclusive economic growth in the region.