Peace Corps Entrepreneurial Education Program

Remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua, Laura F. Dogu
Managua, November 18, 2015

Good afternoon entrepreneurs, friends and honored invitees. It is my pleasure to be here today at this important event.

I have served in many countries around the world and it always pleases me when I am assigned to a country that has a Peace Corps program. The volunteers are such interesting people – after all, they have made the decision to devote two years of their lives to work under pressing challenges in a foreign country.

Also, I have been very keen to have this opportunity to get to know more about the experiences that these young Nicaraguans are involved in as entrepreneurs. It is always invigorating to be surrounded by young people full of enthusiasm, creativity, and positive energy.

We are here due to the idea a member of the Peace Corps had some years ago to implement in Nicaragua a program that exists in many high schools in the United States. The idea is based on the fact that we learn through acting. The idea is that students can learn how to start a business, in an informal way, and thus have the experience to be successful in their next businesses. The class is called Entrepreneurship and it forms a part of the subject, Technical and Vocational Orientation (TVO). Entrepreneurship is a good example of our good work with the government: the Ministry of Education (MINED) works together with the Peace Corps to implement it in schools around the country. And something that sometimes comes of this course – a course based in reality and led by local volunteer entrepreneurs – is that the same ideas from the students are so good, so innovative – that they are already feasible for entry into the market, and not just as student projects.

Today we are going to recognize some of those projects. The 12 best teams have been brought together from around the country, and today, their projects will be evaluated for: the best business plan, the best business plan presentation, the most innovative, and other prizes. The prizes themselves are money to invest in the business. But this is not actually the most important prize – what the students win today is the opportunity to learn from real entrepreneurs. People who have already lived the experience of starting a business here in Nicaragua and that are here today, giving their time to improve the purpose for the young people today.

I will tell you the story of Steyling Monjarrez, a participant in this program in 2011. He participated in the Entrepreneurship course in Esteli. There, with some classmates, he created an initiative called Tomabu, for wine creation. This initiative transformed a small business that generated jobs in the city of Esteli, all achieved thanks to Steyling’s team winning the category of Best Business Plan and conquering first place in the National Entrepreneurship Competition. Today, Steyling Monjarrez, in addition to studying at the National University of Engineering, receives technical assistance and financing from CII-ASADENIC, an organization that supports small farmers with the desire to stand out, as well as hopes to open a laboratory to process fruit wine, cocktails, among other things. And all of this at less than 20 years old.

For the United States, it is a great pleasure to support events such as these that provide young people a platform to share their experiences and their ideas. These young people are not only the future of this country, they also constitute the present.

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