From IPS, writer Danilo Valladares gives us one CSEM sucess story.
Rosenda Gómez, a 53-year-old mother of five, knows all about challenges. To overcome them, she started a modest sausage business in Guatemala, and thanks to her leadership skills and training and other support she received, she is now an example of the economic empowerment of women.
Sixteen years ago she began to make homemade sausages in her village, Laguna Ocubilá, to sell in the nearby city of Huehuetenango, the capital of the northwestern province of the same name.
But her business was a micro-enterprise that allowed her family to just barely scrape by -- until things changed radically three years ago, when the Centros de Servicios para los Emprendimientos de las Mujeres (CSEM) came to her village.
CSEM, a network of centres providing technical and financial services for women entrepreneurs, is sponsored by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in association with Guatemalan institutions.
"We began to receive support, in the form of credit, training to improve our products, and promotion of our chicken and pork sausages in markets and fairs -- none of which we had before," Gómez told TerraViva.
With that boost, Gómez, who only went to school up to third grade, managed to increase production from five to 50 kgs of sausages a week, and demand continues to grow.
Social organisations point to the vicious circle of poverty, lack of education and lack of health care suffered by so many in this country of 14.3 million people, where the poverty rate is slightly higher for women (51.5 percent) than for men (48.4 percent), according to the 2006 national survey on living conditions.
Rita Cassisi, UNIFEM coordinator in Guatemala, told TerraViva that the CSEM helps women set up businesses by offering loans, organisational training, assistance in improving products, marketing techniques and other support.
"One of the vacuums that we have seen is women's access to financing, which is why the programme is focused on a strategy of economic empowerment at the local, national and regional levels," she explained.