Empowering Youth Entrepreneurs in Latin America

In Latin America, youth face unique challenges in obtaining formal employment or becoming successful entrepreneurs, and the youth unemployment rate is nearly 30 percent. In partnership with the Citi Foundation, TechnoServe is working to address the challenges of youth unemployment in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Panama.


Latin America’s youth face unique challenges in obtaining formal employment or becoming successful entrepreneurs. Often lacking access to the skills and knowledge they need to start and maintain a small business, approximately 30 percent of the region’s youth are unemployed.


Small and growing businesses (SGBs) with five employees or fewer can be engines of economic growth, providing income opportunities, and key products and services in their communities. This is especially true for Central America, where SGBs can provide up to 90  percent of jobs in some countries. By delivering formal business training and empowering entrepreneurial youth to start their own SGBs, TechnoServe can help unlock new professional opportunities for youth and their communities.


In partnership with Citi Foundation,Technoserve is working to address the challenge of youth unemployment in Guatemala, Panama, and El Salvador by giving entrepreneurial youth access to formal business training through the Crece Tu Empresa (“Grow Your Business”) program. Participants engage in a 1-year program that leverages strategies, results, and learnings from the Impulsa Tu Empresa entrepreneurship program. The curriculum includes six training workshops tailored to empower young entrepreneurs with the essential business skills -- such as sales, marketing, and financial planning -- and confidence they need to build prosperous careers.


Launched in 2015 with an initial cohort of nearly 90 entrepreneurs, Crece Tu Empresa has helped more than 170 young business people -- more than 50 percent of whom are women -- in Guatemala and El Salvador to increase their sales by an average of 65 percent while creating 80 new employment opportunities for their communities.

In 2018, the program began holding training workshops in Panama for the first time, and aims to train an additional 140 entrepreneurs across the three countries.


The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. It invests in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities.