Friends of Puerto Rico commits to expand its innovative youth entrepreneurship program, SEEDS to reach 500 girls across Puerto Rico, and deliver a new entrepreneurship curriculum through the AMIGAS program to 500 women. Friends of Puerto will facilitate collaboration across both programs for the girls and women to work together to create 200 new businesses in Puerto Rico.
To expand the SEEDs program, Friends of Puerto Rico will work with 25 teachers from the Instituto Nueva Escuela, a public Montessori school, that work in public schools of rural communities to recruit students. These teachers will administer the 31-week experiential education SEEDS curriculum, with sessions taking place once every week. The course is designed to have students launch agri-businesses in the second semester and includes basic accounting, pitch competitions, mentorship, and seed funding driven from coffee sales.
To launch the new curriculum component of the AMIGAS program, Friends of Puerto Rico will conduct outreach to mothers of participating SEEDS students and other community members to engage 500 women. Women will be offered intensive courses during weekends and or evenings on topics such as: basics of finance, soft and technical skills, sales development, public speaking and media training, access to finance and investors.
By connecting the girls and women from these two programs through combined programming, Friends of Puerto Rico will support the creation of 200 businesses. Girls and women will work in groups and have access to a mentor from the existing network of women leaders from the AMIGAS program. At the end of the program, the girls and women will present their businesses. Overall, this commitment aims to support the development of a new youth and women-led economy of agribusinesses and drive environmental and economic growth for Puerto Rico.
A local program coordinator will manage the programs. There will also be an impact evaluation portion of this project that will include conducting interviews to capture impact stories.
Q4 2020: Engage in planning activities to solidify approach and theory of change for the AMIGAS launch and SEEDS program expansion, including scheduling stakeholder meetings and evaluating data and impact reports of the existing SEEDS program to inform the expansion plan.
Q1 2021: Work with partners to recruit 500 new participants (500 girls and 500 women) for the SEEDS and AMIGAS programs in the rural communities of Vieques, Aibonito, Barranquitas, Toa Baja, Guaynabo, Aguadilla, Aguada, Ponce, Moca, and Mayaguez. Friends of Puerto Rico will work closely with the selected partners to identify the 25 teachers to facilitate the courses. Lastly, partners will work to identify local and national corporate partners to be part of this initiative.
Q2 2021: Provide curriculum training for 25 teachers and confirm the training site to launch the programs. Friends of Puerto Rico will begin the execution of the SEEDS and AMIGAS program courses, providing the curriculum, training, materials, impact assessment, and a local program coordinator to manage the implementation. Businesses will be launched after completing 50% of the curriculum. The mentorship network and government partners will support the entrepreneurs and seed funding from coffee sales will be provided to the business.
Q3 2021: Continue and complete programs and conduct impact evaluation. The method to be used is determined by the curriculum partner and will include interviews and impact stories, along with follow ups to monitor the growth of the launched business.
Over 56% of Puerto Ricans are living below the poverty line. This rate increases up to 84% in some rural areas (National Council of La Raza). Additionally, the island imports over 50% of food even though a majority of Puerto Rico has arable land that is great for agriculture. While there have been many entrepreneurship-driven initiatives focused on supporting Puerto Rico, particularly after the 2017 hurricane season, few of these initiatives are focused on opportunities for women and young people even though they are disproportionally impacted by economic disadvantage.
Two years after hurricane Maria, it is important to recognize that leveraging youth engagement in the island’s agricultural sector, particularly among young women and girls, can serve as a pathway to reducing poverty and the rate of food imports. A generation that knows how to run an agri-business from the ground up can develop a new economy of farmers and agribusinesses and drive environmental and economic growth for Puerto Rico.
In 2019, Friends of Puerto Rico launched SEEDS, an innovative program that seeks to develop the entrepreneurial spirit Puerto Rican children, utilizing coffee as a pedagogical tool. The yearlong curriculum teaches public school children how to run an agri-business focused on coffee from the ground up. Using locally grown Puerto Rican coffee, Café Amar, SEEDS provides a community-driven business solution to poverty by uniting young people in learning about the creation of a locally-led sustainable business that also protects the future of coffee in Puerto Rico. Friends of Puerto Rico also launched AMIGAS, an influential global network of women who serve as mentors for women and girls who are passionate about creating entrepreneurial opportunities for themselves and for the people of Puerto Rico. Given the success of these programs, Friends of Puerto Rico has identified an opportunity to expand and broaden its reach.