In 2018, the Guatemalan economy produced one new job per every 15 workers joining the labor force. Furthermore, in 2018, 70% of the Guatemalan economy was informal, with workers severely challenged by low wages, low efficiency and a lack of access to economic opportunities. USAID has been in a partnership with Walmart Mexico and Walmart Central America since 2002 to increase economic opportunities in Guatemala and reduce poverty through “the empowerment of women-led small businesses.” This initiative is aimed at creating more jobs, expanding markets for goods produced in Guatemala and making business more inclusive and accessible to all people.
USAID’s Collective Focus in Guatemala
The initiative puts particular focus on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises that have the potential to eradicate poverty and transform the Guatemalan economy. This is especially true in emerging cities in Guatemala, where USAID helps provide vocational training to young and indigenous workers.
USAID’s work in Guatemala does not end with Guatemala’s economy. USAID has also partnered with the local government and local communities to fight food insecurity, chronic malnutrition, environmental protection and biodiversity initiatives. USAID believes that decentralizing key resources and services in Guatemala can be productive for its economy. Moreover, USAID has also tried to drive more civilian participation in decision-making processes and encouraged the people of Guatemala to hold their government accountable.
USAID Partnership With Walmart
Walmart is one of USAID’s top 40 corporate partners and USAID has worked with Walmart in Latin America and the Caribbean since 2002. Since joining forces, the organizations have provided training and granted financial support and market opportunities to small-scale farmers, women, at-risk youth and local entrepreneurs. Moreover, these organizations also launched the “Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative” in 2011 which focused on women and farmers.
Fighting Infrastructural Battles in Guatemala
Although these commitments have helped to improve Guatemala’s economy, there are still some structural difficulties that need addressing in the coming years. For instance, Guatemala’s population is predominantly young, with more than 60% of the population being below the age of 25. More than half of the local population lives in urban areas and the country continues to urbanize rapidly, however, there is a lack of infrastructure connecting cities.
In 2022, a large number of migrants traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Consequently, this has created a temporary vacuum in the labor market, but USAID and Walmart are working to strengthen their partnerships to help create more jobs and uplift the Guatemalan economy. In spite of these challenges, Guatemala is expected to see a 3.4% growth in GDP in 2022. Although this number is not drastic by any means, it shows that economic growth and poverty reduction are possible when countries commit to creating new jobs, expanding markets and investing in their youth. With the help of initiatives by USAID, Walmart Central America and numerous others, Guatemala’s economy will continue to steadily grow.
– Samyudha Rajesh