Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas Innovation Challenge

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
November 26, 2014

   

The Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas Innovation Challenge seeks to discover, field test, and scale solutions by grassroots part­nerships in Latin America that have a proven track-record in overcom­ing labor and environmental barriers small businesses face. Launched in February 2014 by the State Department and the World Environment Center (WEC), the Challenge began with over 650 entities – non-profit organizations, private companies, and public entities featuring at least one partner operating in one of the 16 Pathways to Prosperity member countries – registering for the competition.

Policy and technical experts from around the region narrowed down the applicants to 30 semifinalists, and later to 12 final entries. The 12 finalists competed in a final Pitch Competition on July 25 in Washington, DC. A panel of experts selected four finalists to receive sub-grants of up to $500,000 each and technical assistance to scale and replicate their solu­tion over the next two years:

Empowering Small Businesses: Lutheran World Relief, Nicara­gua – “Mobile Cocoa” builds a network of diverse stakeholders across sectors to improve cacao farmers’ understanding of pro­duction and international markets, while connecting them to resources.

Facilitating Trade: Núcleo Biotecnología Curauma, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, Chile – “CompiteMAS” pro­vides SMEs tools to make decisions about technology and sustain­ability practices, as well as measure and monitor their productivity, environmental and social impact.

Developing a Modern Workforce: ICAM GROUP (Informáti­ca y Computación Avanzada de México, S.C.), Mexico – The “Integral Measurement System and Productivity Improvement for SMEs” process builds skills for SMEs’ sustainability while facilitat­ing communication between workers and employers to improve social dialogue.

Promoting Sustainable Business Practices: Vista Volcanes, S.A., Guatemala – “Capilla Malla Inocua” offers a solution that changes the use of insecticides to protect crop development, creates a network of sustainable, small entrepreneurs, and empowers them with the tools to protect their business in the short-term, and grow it in the long-term.

Continued Engagement

The State Department and WEC are now building on the success of the Challenge by re-engaging the 26 remaining semi-finalists in capacity-building activities and matchmaking opportunities with other appli­cants and potential funders. Eight of the 26 semi-fi­nalists that obtain a pre-determined level of private sector investment will be eligible to receive awards to advance and expand their solutions. Network and ca­pacity building support will continue through 2017.

About Pathways to Proserity

Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas is a policy-lev­el dialogue that links 16 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 and environmental cooperation. Through this initia­tive, countries share best practices and collaborate to spread the benefits of economic growth more broadly to all of our citizens. Pathways member countries in­clude Belize, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Hon­duras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and the United States. Brazil and Jamaica have observer status. The Inter-Ameri­can Development Bank (IDB), the Organization of American States (OAS), and the Economic Commis­sion for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) are strategic Pathways partners.

For more information about Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas Initiative please visit: www.pathways-caminos.org

For more information about the Pathways Innovation Challenge please visit: www.challenge.wec.org