WEC & its partners call innovative organizations to participate in the final Empower Innovation Challenge.

Lanzamiento Tercera Cohorte

Funded by the U.S. Department of State, WEC awards more than US1 million in total to organizations that manage projects benefiting micro, small, and medium-sized (MSMEs) enterprises led by women in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The World Environment Center (WEC), and its partners, the Núcleo de Biotecnología de Curauma (NBC) and Baastel, launched the third and final competition of the “Empower Innovation Challenge” (EIC) in April, 2024.

Since 2023, WEC and its strategic partners have been implementing the Empower Innovation Challenge (EIC) to strengthen 24 organizations through a series of online competitions. The winning organizations receive small grants and become part of a business conglomerate that promotes competitiveness in Latin America and the Caribbean called “La RED de Innovación e Impacto”.

The Empower Innovation Challenge is a unique competition that identifies and awards innovative nonprofit organizations that manage projects benefiting micro, small, and medium-sized (MSMEs) enterprises led by women. It aims to achieve more sustainable and inclusive growth by generating local solutions that support green and blue economies in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The EIC offers small grants to strengthen projects that can be scaled and extend their scope through training and access to network opportunities with local and international stakeholders.

The application period for this third and final competition is now open from April 1 through June 28, 2024. To learn more or apply, visit: https://www.eiclared.org

Qualified organizations that wish to apply must be from one of the following ten countries: Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador.

The participating projects may come from non-profit organizations and institutions in general: civil society organizations, educational institutions, centers focused on developing small businesses, and organizations dedicated to implementing and promoting cleaner production.

The sectors targeted by the competition range from agriculture, fishing, sustainable tourism, creative services technologies, light and small manufacturing, as well as textiles.

The most recent award ceremony took place last January, when eight organizations were awarded as the winners of the second challenge. The eight winning organizations are:


  • ACOMUDT- El Salvador: “Iniciativas productivas de la zona norte”
  • AGEXPORT- Guatemala: “MIPYMEs sostenibles”
  • CAMCHI- Panamá: “Crecimiento Empresarial para Mujeres Emprendedoras”
  • Comunidades de la Tierra- Guatemala: “Fortalecimiento de las cadenas de valor en Guatemala”
  • ECARAI- Honduras: “Cerrando la brecha del mercado justo para la producción sostenible de hortalizas de las mujeres indígenas Lena de Honduras”
  • Libélula para el Cambio Global- Perú: “Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs from the Green and Blue Economies project (OMEEVA)”
  • Rural Commerce- Ecuador: “Innovación y Red Sostenible para Mujeres Rurales”
  • Travolution- Colombia: “Fomento de Mujeres para el Turismo Sostenible”

This initiative is funded by the U.S. Department of State (DoS) through the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) 2021 Global Equity and Equality Action (GEEA) Fund and implemented by the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Policy Planning Coordination Office (WHA/PPC).


Brief description of the awardees’ projects: 

  • ACOMUDT (EL SALVADOR): The project consists of expanding, strengthening, and marketing of a beekeeping productive initiative to be economically self-sustainable while integrating the gender perspective. The expected results are a better interaction with the environment, the economic improvement of the people involved, and the dissemination and marketing of the products obtained.
  • AGEXPORT (GUATEMALA): The project aims to improve the competitiveness of MSMEs led by women exporters and/or those involved in value chains by adapting the business culture to favor sustainability and social inclusion.
  • CAMCHI (PANAMA): The implementation of this project seeks to promote the growth of productive units under a gap-closing approach, identified from a self-diagnosis, from which the respective business plans are established. A road map will be implemented to achieve the expected results, including training workshops, individual technical assistance, and financial relationship events. The work will focus on the following topics: Administrative Finance, Marketing and Commercialization, Productive Management, Human Capital, and Environmental Sustainability.
  • Comunidades de la Tierra (GUATEMALA): The project aims to strengthen the KIKOTEM artisanal value chain, owned by the certified companies B-Corp Wakami and Cemaco. Through specific administrative, production, and gender training, the project focuses on increasing productivity, promoting market access, and establishing traceability systems aligned with B-Corp principles.
  • ECARAI (HONDURAS): The project aims to empower MSMEs led by women by implementing cleaner production systems while also improving their quality of life and well-being. As part of the project, women-led MSMEs will raise their profitability, safeguard their health, preserve the environment, and improve the availability of healthy foods in their communities. In addition, it aims to generate market niches and fair financial returns for MSMEs led by women.
  • Libélula para el Cambio Global (PERU): The goal of the project is twofold. First, the project aims to support 50 MSMEs led by women of green or blue in Peru by strengthening their management and leadership capabilities, gender practices, and preparedness for climate change. Additionally, the project will support them with digital tools that will enable them to expand their businesses successfully and sustainably. Second, the project wants to promote the OMEEVA toolkit – a collection of digital tools for MSEMs-  in wider communities through participants and partners.
  • Rural Commerce (ECUADOR): The project aims to support the development of a sustainable ecosystem for rural women engaged in family farming, particularly MSMEs. Through democratic digitization, this project aligns production with market trends and the best climate-smart practices. The expected results are increased resource efficiency, diversified market share, higher incomes, improved food security, and reduced food waste due to limited access. 
  • Travolution (COLOMBIA): The project aims to generate a network of women leaders and entrepreneurs in the sustainable tourism sector. The project wants to make optimal use of water and positively impact the territories of seven departments of Colombia, representing ten grassroots organizations that constitute the project’s target audience.

For more information about the initiative visit: https://www.eiclared.org  & https://laredinnovacionimpacto.com/

For additional information please contact: WEC Team info@wec.org 

About La RED de Innovación e Impacto (La RED) 

La RED is an initiative that brings together nonprofit and for-profit organizations to support MSMEs in order to promote sustainable economic growth and prosperity in LAC. La RED was born in 2014 through a selection process of organizations that have been accelerating the development of sustainable business and promoting economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean. The project was funded by the U.S. Department of State (DoS) and implemented by WEC and its partners Le Groupe-conseil Baastel ltée (Baastel) and RioSlum Studio until June 2021. As of July 2021, La RED is supported through the leadership of its own member organizations and coordinated by NBC of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso in Chile.  

About World Environment Center (WEC) 

WEC is an independent, global nonprofit, non-advocacy organization that promotes sustainable development through the business practices and operations of its member companies and in partnership with governments, multilateral organizations, non-governmental organizations, universities and other stakeholders. WEC’s mission is to promote business and its social value by advancing solutions to sustainable development related problems.

About Núcleo de Biotecnología de Curauma (NBC) 

NBC of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso is an R+D+i Center integrated by academics and professionals of excellence, with more than 10 years of experience in technological development, innovation and technology transfer in the area of science and technology. NBC seeks to make companies more productive, sustainable and competitive, visualizing itself in three years as a reference center to support Small and Mid-size Enterprises (SMEs) so they can increase their competitiveness. NBC develops innovative trends to face new economic, social and environmental challenges so we will live in a more sustainable world tomorrow. 

About Le Groupe-conseil baastel ltée (Baastel) 

Baastel is recognized for its quality services in Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E), Results Based Management (RBM), strategic planning, project and program management, and individual and institutional capacity building in these areas. Baastel’s outstanding reputation in the industry is built on a track record of international and national successes and expertise that is backed by attention to detail, quality, transparency and neutrality.