12 companies and organizations announce commitments to support economic development in the Northern Triangle, as part of the Call to Action launch
In her role overseeing diplomatic efforts within El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (the “Northern Triangle”), and with Mexico, Vice President Kamala Harris announced today a Call to Action for businesses and social enterprises to make new, significant commitments to help send a signal of hope to the people of the region and sustainably address the root causes of migration by promoting economic opportunity. As part of this Call to Action launch, 12 companies and organizations announced commitments to support inclusive economic development in the Northern Triangle, including: Accion, Bancolombia, Chobani, Davivienda, Duolingo, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Mastercard, Microsoft, Nespresso, Pro Mujer, the Tent Partnership for Refugees, and the World Economic Forum.
Our comprehensive strategy to address the root causes of migration will involve significant commitments of U.S. government resources to support the long-term development of the region—including efforts to foster economic opportunity, strengthen governance, combat corruption, and improve security. This approach will leverage commitments and resources from the governments in the Northern Triangle, as well as partnerships with multilateral development banks and international financial institutions.
Supporting the long-term development of the region, and in the Western Hemisphere more broadly, will require more than just the resources of the U.S. government. For this reason, Vice President Harris is calling on the private sector to draw on its unique resources and expertise to make commitments to support inclusive economic growth in the Northern Triangle. Together, we can work to overcome obstacles to investment, promote economic opportunity, and support long-term development in the region. The Administration looks forward to increased collaboration with private companies—U.S., foreign, and local in the Northern Triangle and Latin America more broadly—to build upon this Call to Action in the months and years to come.
U.S. Government Long-Term Commitments and Call to Action Focus Areas
This Call to Action is one component under the U.S. government’s comprehensive, long-term strategy to address barriers to investment and to promote economic opportunity in the Northern Triangle. Just as government action alone will not be enough to achieve meaningful outcomes, private sector commitments will be facilitated and supported by strong U.S. government initiatives to address longstanding impediments to investment-led growth. Under our broader strategy, near-term private sector commitments will be mutually reinforced by sustained U.S. government efforts to foster a business-enabling environment, increased private sector investment, and sustainable economic growth and opportunity. As part of the broader strategy, this Call to Action aims to generate new commitments from businesses and social enterprises in six focus areas with an emphasis on supporting vulnerable populations, including women and youth, in the Northern Triangle region. These focus areas include:
- Reform Agenda – Commitments to support greater transparency, predictability, and stability in the business enabling environment by facilitating regional government efforts to adopt international best practices in licensing, permitting, procurement, regulation, and taxation.
- Digital and Financial Inclusion – Commitments to expand affordable internet access and participation in the digital economy; facilitate access to financial technologies and capital for small businesses, particularly women- and indigenous-owned businesses; and ensure that the most vulnerable and the most likely to migrate have access to basic public services and financial institutions.
- Food Security and Climate-smart Agriculture – Commitments to combat food shortages by increasing agricultural productivity and crop resilience.
- Climate Adaptation and Clean Energy – Commitments to support the region’s resilience to climate change through adaptation and mitigation efforts; support industries impacted by climate change; and transition to clean energy.
- Education and Workforce Development – Commitments to expand job-training programs; support greater access to technical and secondary education; and create higher paying formal sector jobs, especially for women and in rural areas.
- Public Health Access – Commitments to support regional governments in addressing the impact of COVID-19 on their populations; build robust and resilient health economies to confront future health challenges; support access to clean water and sanitation; and ensure inclusive access to healthcare.
How to Join the Call
The State Department, in coordination with the Partnership for Central America, will manage follow-up to this Call to Action, which will involve:
- Connecting businesses with relevant U.S. interagency partners, such as the U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, Department of Commerce, Department of Labor, among others; non-governmental organizations (NGOs); multilateral development banks; UN agencies, other international organizations; and relevant government officials from the region to facilitate potential new partnerships and commitments;
- Coordinating private sector partners to ensure sustained progress through strategic and high-impact initiatives aligned to social impact goals, and facilitating joint ventures between new and existing partners across global public, private, and social sectors;
- Offering feedback on potential private sector initiatives, based on an assessment of potential migrants’ needs in the region;
- Working with partner governments and institutions to promote reforms that address impediments to investment and foster a business-enabling environment;
- Establishing metrics to measure the impact of commitments made in response to the Call to Action, to track program effectiveness and identify key trends across key economic and social impact metrics; and
- Convening public forums and facilitating discussions on challenges, trends, and progress toward aspired social impact goals.
The Partnership for Central America is a non-profit organization that was developed in support of the Vice President’s Call to Action. The Partnership aims to coordinate practical solutions to advance economic opportunity, address urgent climate, education and health challenges, and promote long-term investments and workforce capability in support a vision of hope for Central America.
The Administration and the Partnership welcome additional commitments to join this initiative and promote economic opportunity in the Northern Triangle. Vice President Harris invites interested parties to get involved by contacting the State Department Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, the Partnership for Central America can be reached at email@example.com.
Founding Participants in the Call to Action
The following 12 companies and organizations join the Vice President today in supporting the Administration’s Call to Action. All are also founding members of the Partnership.
These companies and organizations put forth summaries of their work to date and new initiatives to invest in the Northern Triangle, as follows:
Founded in 1961, Accion is a global nonprofit working to advance economic opportunity through microfinance and impact investing. Accion works with financial service providers across Latin America that are expanding the reach, quality, and affordability of financial services for low-income and underserved people. Over the next three years, Accion will provide advice, guidance, and consulting services to organizations that serve micro and small business owners in the Northern Triangle region, ultimately benefitting more than 400,000 people. Accion aims to connect small business owners to new markets and grow their businesses by improving their management, financial, and digital capabilities. Accion will help businesses shift from cash to digital, while expanding local access to finance through branchless banking. The effort aims to reduce barriers that have prevented women from accessing economic opportunities and boost the productivity of small-holder farmers. Accion will enable lenders that already serve the poor to make greater use of technology to reach more clients, supporting them more effectively and with greater security. Ultimately, Accion’s work will empower business owners and their families to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as build the financial health, resilience, and prosperity sorely needed to address the root causes of migration.
Grupo Bancolombia is one of Latin America’s major financial institutions with operations in El Salvador and Guatemala. To further its commitment to sustainable development in Central America, Grupo Bancolombia will commit to expanding its financial inclusion efforts to reach the Northern Triangle’s unbanked and vulnerable populations through digital banking accounts, focusing on remittance-receiving families, women-led businesses and other small enterprises to increase investment and improve living conditions, and strengthen ties to their local communities, adding more than 400,000 new account holders by 2025. As part of this work, Grupo Bancolombia will work with its partners to expand access to credit and connect more than 50,000 small shopkeepers with suppliers, distributors and retail customers.
Chobani’s mission is to make delicious, nutritious, and natural food for all people because access to good food is a right – not a privilege. Chobani will now extend its impact to the Northern Triangle and bring its incubator program to Guatemala, where local food entrepreneurs will get expertise and support to help them set up and scale their operations. Chobani will use knowledge from its global incubator program to determine how to best create and execute a program in Guatemala that will support local startups and contribute to regional economic empowerment. In the U.S., the Chobani Incubator has helped support the growth of 47 different companies in the food and beverage industry since its inception in 2016. Founders are given a monetary grant and have access to resources across the ecosystem, from retailers to investors and everything in between. The Incubator has also run programs internationally in both Australia and Turkey. Each program has its own unique operating model, but all serve Chobani’s mission of bringing better food to more people.
Davivienda is a multi-national, Colombian bank with a presence in the United States, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama. To date, Davivienda has worked to expand financial inclusion by expanding its digital payment system, DAVIPLATA, and by increasing access to credit, particularly for women. In Colombia, Davivienda has connected nearly 13 million individuals to its digital services, 5 million of whom were previously unbanked. As part of this Call to Action, in collaboration with public and private sector partners, Davivienda will commit to connecting 1 million unbanked individuals in the Northern Triangle with financial services, including via its DAVIPLATA platform. Davivienda will also commit to contributing $500 million in loans to support low-income housing, small- and medium-sized businesses, renewable energy projects, and women entrepreneurs.
Duolingo is an education app with over 500 million downloads. In the Northern Triangle, the app is used by over 500,000 people to learn English in order to improve their education and job prospects. Duolingo will commit to ensuring that its content remains free so that everyone has access to high-quality education through mobile devices. The company recently created Duolingo ABC, an app designed to teach early literacy skills to children. In order to reduce high levels of illiteracy in the Northern Triangle, Duolingo will commit to developing Duolingo ABC in Spanish. Duolingo will also commit to providing fee waivers for the Duolingo English Test to high-achieving, low-income students to reduce barriers to higher education. Combined, these efforts will expand access to education in the region through the use of technology, helping to improve people’s livelihoods and prospects for a better future.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from multiple disciplines to produce powerful change to improve the lives and health of people around the globe. The Harvard Chan School will commit to adding an evidence-based lens by harnessing scientific data to maximize capacity to measure and report systems-wide impact of the partnership; improve access to health care; and train and enable workers to manage pipeline healthcare issues in the Northern Triangle. Harnessing qualitative and quantitative metrics, the School will provide partners and managers with the means to pilot and scale activities that support data-sharing in order to foster transformative change across all communities, platforms, and sectors.
Through its work in financial inclusion, Mastercard has brought over 500 million individuals globally into the digital economy. In collaboration with public and private sector partners, the company aims to bring 5 million people in the Northern Triangle into the financial system and digitalize 1 million micro and small businesses, leveraging its innovation and technology to improve access to vital services and drive inclusive economic growth. This includes enabling individuals to pay and get paid digitally, securely, and efficiently, and reaching previously underserved communities with technology that works on mobile phones and in rural, low-connectivity areas. Mastercard can also provide marginalized individuals with access to services like healthcare and agricultural marketplaces, and help small businesses grow with affordable tools and services. With access to financial and digital tools, and the ability to use them, Mastercard can help close the digital divide and improve livelihoods for generations to come.
Microsoft’s purpose is to ensure that technology helps promote inclusive opportunity, protects fundamental rights, and supports a sustainable future. Microsoft will build on its long-standing presence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to bring connectivity, skills, and greater opportunity to their citizens. First, with local partners including Albavision, Microsoft will expand internet access to up to 3 million people in the region by July 2022, as part of the Microsoft Airband Initiative. Microsoft will also expand its work with partner New Sun Road to establish community centers to provide internet, digital skills, devices, educational experiences and mentorship to women and youth in rural and high-migration areas. Second, Microsoft will build on its global skills initiative to provide access to digital skills learning paths to connect people to skills and certifications. Third, Microsoft is investing in technology to increase the transparency and accountability of government spending, and exploring the use of data science to evaluate the efficacy of interventions to address community needs.
By working directly with over 120,000 coffee farmers in 15 countries, Nespresso, which offers high quality portioned coffee to consumers, unlocks the potential of coffee for producers through its unique sustainable quality coffee sourcing approach by addressing the key social, economic and environmental challenges they face with practical solutions, focusing on improving yields and quality to drive revenues, paying higher prices for high quality coffee and driving activities to improve livelihoods, providing free agronomy support, promoting human rights protection and gender equality, and building resilience to climate change through regenerative agricultural practices and agroforestry. Nespresso is committed to improving livelihoods in the Northern Triangle by expanding its existing sourcing activities in Guatemala, and by starting to source quality coffees from El Salvador and Honduras from this year on, creating new economic opportunities for smallholder farmers and replicating the social and environmental impact of Nespresso’s programs in more communities. The company aims to support the local economy with a minimum of $150 million spent across coffee purchases, price premiums and technical assistance by 2025, more than doubling both the number of coffee farms it works with and total coffee volumes.
For over 30 years, Pro Mujer has been driving inclusive economic opportunities for women in Latin America by providing millions of families with access to finance, healthcare services, entrepreneurship support, and digital inclusion. Pro Mujer will commit to reaching three million people in the Northern Triangle by bringing these services directly, and with the collaboration of local partners, to vulnerable communities, including low income families, rural and indigenous populations. In addition, Pro Mujer will commit to structuring and launching blended finance vehicles that provide capital, technical assistance and capacity building support to micro, small and medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the Northern Triangle. This critical support to MSMEs and the services Pro Mujer intends to bring to individuals and families will together have a transformative effect on these communities and directly address the root causes of migration from the region.
Tent Partnership for Refugees
The Tent Partnership for Refugees mobilizes the business community to improve the lives and livelihoods of refugees displaced from their home countries. Tent pledges to share best practices and lessons learned with the Partnership for Central America from working with its network of over 150 major businesses to implement commitments in support of refugees around the world. In addition, Tent will leverage its business network to raise awareness of the root causes of migration and how companies can help improve conditions in Central America, for example by supporting education outcomes, creating jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities in the region, as well as sourcing more products from the Northern Triangle.
World Economic Forum
The Forum has been actively engaged in Latin America for decades, developing and supporting the implementation of a strategic agenda to address the region’s most pressing challenges and ensuring a robust participation of leaders in its various projects, activities and events. In response to this Call to Action, the World Economic Forum will convene a network of committed actors over time, with a special focus on the role that long-term, sustainable investment can play in transforming the lives and well-being of citizens throughout the area. To do so, the Forum would facilitate collaboration between governments, civil society, business, development institutions and others, to address the root causes of migration and for the Northern Triangle countries to realize their potential towards sustainable and inclusive growth and for quality job creation.