Panama: Entrepreneurial Opportunities Network for Poor Families


This Joint Programme sought to reduce levels of poverty in Panama, especially in rural areas and indigenous regions, by supporting poor populations in launching sustainable micro-enterprises, with an emphasis on the farming and tourism sectors.

Based on a principle of human development with equity, the programme aimed to bridge the gap between the existing Opportunities Network (a government programme for conditional monetary transfers) and the Impulse Panama programme, which is aimed at consolidating medium-sized firms.

The programme took an intercultural approach that aimed to ensure:

  1. Adequate public policies;
  2. Access to the resources of production;
  3. Cost and risk reduction; and
  4. Greater productivity and better working conditions, including integration into broader clusters and access to a wider range of goods and services.

Main achievements included:

  • Two thematic roundtables were established for touristic and handicraft initiatives, bringing together public institutions as well as private sector and civil society organizations. 50% of its governing body is made up of women.
  • Entrepreneurial skills of the artisans in the areas of intervention were strengthened through numerous trainings. As a result, artisans saw a more than 50% increase in income, and they were supported to present their products at the National Handicrafts Fair.
  • Rural Tourism Routes (agritourism, cultural tourism and ecotourism) were created in Cocle and Santa Fe de Veraguas. A number of small businesses made investments in equipment and microfinance. The tourist route in Cocle is now part of the offerings of several national tour operators.
  • Business training was conducted in participating communities. In the artisanal sector, the quality of traditional products was improved and producers were able to increase their prices at the national and international level in the area of fashion. The accreditation process was strengthened for artisans and artisan organizations.


Click for more detailed results from the Joint Programmes in Panama (in Spanish).

The Joint Programme in action


Programme Dates 18 Dec 2009 - 17 Jun 2013
Net funded amount $5,143,115
Participating UN agencies FAO, UNCTAD, UNDP, UNIDO, UNWTO
National partners Ministerio de Desarrollo Agropecuario, Autoridad del Turismo de Panamá, Ministerio Comercio e Industrias, Autoridad de la Pequeña y Mediana Empresa, Ministerio de Economía y Finanzas
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