Justin Erickson

Countries: Managua, Nicaragua
Organization: Technoserve

JUSTIN: "This summer I worked at Technoserve in Managua, Nicaragua. Technoserve is a large international non-government organization that works in the areas of agriculture and entrepreneurship. They are based in Washington, D.C., but they have offices in Africa, Latin America, and India. I worked out of Managua, which is their headquarters for Central America. About one hundred people (almost exclusively Nicaraguan) work out of the office. I traveled to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala during the internship. The eight-week long internship was formalized on the part of Technoserve as part of their Volunteer Consultant Program. Volunteer consults work on projects in all of the areas Technoserve works.

Technoserve brought me on board in order to better understand their place in the entrepreneurship assistance market in Central America. They are currently running two entrepreneurship programs in the region. One is called CRECE. CRECE is a program for young people to help them develop their business ideas or start-ups. The other is ITE, which stands for Impulsa Tu Empresa (push your business). This program is for small and medium enterprises in the C-4 region (Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala) to grow their businesses. The average business in this program has about 14 employees and does about $200,000USD in sales per year. Both of these programs have been running for about three years in the C-4 region. About 75 businesses participate in the program per country per year."

At the end I created a thirty slide presentation and presented it to my supervisor in Managua. We then looked discussed some changes to be made and I turned in a final report. I was invited to give my presentation to the Director of Entrepreneurship in Washington, D.C., and so after my fellowship ended I went to D.C. to give the presentation. Using my work, Technoserve has a better understanding of its place in Central America, ideas for how it can create more impact, a qualitative review of their two main entrepreneurship programs, and a starting framework that will appeal to funders as they are in the process to raising money to support the programs in the future.