Thriive Awards Reception

Ambassador Dogu poses for a group photo with Thriive members

Remarks by Ambassador Laura F. Dogu
Managua, February 4, 2016

We are so grateful for the opportunity to help sponsor this event with Thriive in honor of the social entrepreneurs and innovators here in Nicaragua. And while tonight we will especially recognize one person who has provided a particularly meaningful and innovative impact to Nicaraguan society, I also want to acknowledge and celebrate all those here tonight who are working together for a more prosperous and inclusive Nicaragua.  You may not be mentioned in the headlines of newspapers, but your daily work as private entrepreneurs, innovators, and community members is the foundation upon which the future prosperity of Nicaragua is based.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners create jobs and economic opportunities much faster than governments can.  They take risks and—hopefully—reap the rewards when those risks pay off.  They create jobs and build the economy from the ground up.  Doing so requires courage and determination, as well as a willingness to fail and try again.

The U.S. government remains committed to empowering and celebrating these small business owners and entrepreneurs to promote prosperity in Nicaragua.  In the past five years, we have worked with Nicaraguans to train nearly 2,500 youth leaders in business and civil society, many of whom are now in leadership roles within their organizations.  We are also working with Nicaraguans involved in improving education in Nicaragua, and have invested $30 million over the past five years on programs directed at primary, secondary, and higher education.  The United States supports Nicaraguan business organizations and entrepreneurship networks through funding, training, and technical assistance.  We are proud of our partnerships with the leading entrepreneurship organizations in Nicaragua and will continue supporting the work these groups are doing.

I encourage those here to tonight to take advantage of this opportunity to present your business ideas to new people and organizations.  You never know who might have insights into how to improve upon what you are doing.  And share your failures too.  Failure is part of business, and when we own up to our failures we lead by example and learn from one another’s mistakes.

Cross-pollination is critical for good crops: to make the richest and highest quality coffee, for example, the plants need to be pollinated from other coffee plants.  In a similar fashion, let’s strengthen the network in Nicaragua of business owners, organizations, and innovators by sharing ideas, strategies, and best practices.  I encourage you to serve as mentors too.  Help others in your community to find ways to contribute.  I ask you all to share your successes and your failures with young people, so that they too can benefit from your experience and improve their lives and communities.

Let me congratulate Thriive for its innovative and proactive approach and its success here in Nicaragua over the past several years.  Thriive understands the value of giving back, of demonstrating how the success of one business can be the success of all within a community.  And congratulations to the finalists for having put into practice the concept of social entrepreneurship.  Through your actions, more Nicaraguans can be included in the prosperity of Nicaragua.  Thank you.