Project Factsheet
Tools for » Entrepreneurial Opportunities Network for Poor Families
Project ID:00067267Description:MDGF-2097-D-PAN
MDG Achievement Fund
Start Date *: 31 Mar 2009
MDGF Private Sector Devt
End Date*: 17 Jun 2013
Country: Panama Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   Multiple


The Joint Programme (JP) focused its interventions on the rural poor located in the provinces of Chiriqui, Cocle, Herrera and Veraguas, where there are high-poverty districts with high potential for development of agriculture, handicraft and tourism.

The JP contributed to the development of small businesses and strengthening of individuals, contributing to sustainable development in the areas identified. It made efforts to link the rural entrepreneur with the private sector and the public sector at the local level.

Through various training programmes, the JP worked on capacity building with a variety of institutions at national, regional and local levels. Additionally, through the training provided to REDNOMIPEM as national "trainer" on gender issues, training focused on the empowerment of women entrepreneurs in rural areas.

One innovative proposal of the JP was the design and ICT equipment for a Demonstration and Innovation Center of Rural Entrepreneurship (CIDER), as a pilot for entrepreneurs in rural areas. As direct consequence of this action the Panamanian government strengthened its strategy for development and promotion of medium and small enterprises (MSMEs), designing a project aimed at encouraging the creation of CIDERs based on the Peruvian experience,  which was understood through a visit sponsored by the JP.

Moreover, within the agriculture and handicraft sectors, the JP was able to support the development and introduction of new products and new distribution channels, which in some cases led to increased sales and income for target families. The JP played a key role in helping to develop new technical, management and negotiation skills amongst the beneficiaries. 

Women expressed more confidence and higher self-esteem since most crafts are produced by housewives (though not exclusively), and craft production has gone from being a side activity to a major source of income.


Outcome 1:

It provides for the implementation of more efficient and effective local development processes based on private sector participation in public sector partnership.


Outcome Achievements:

  • All micro businesses supported by the JP improved their profitability, have changed the quality or type of products and have introduced new ways to produce and organize the production cycle.
  • The vast majority of beneficiaries developed their own business through formalized partnerships. Those that were already working in groups saw their skills strengthened. In some cases there were also changes in direction, with the positions taken by younger women.
  • Testimonies of beneficiaries showed increased awareness and entrepreneurial culture in the areas of intervention of the JP.
  • In Cocle, the JP introduced a Tourism and Handicrafts thematic “round table” to promote dialogue between the major players in local development.
  • In Veraguas, the JP supported the consolidation of the Development Council and the creation of the Tourism Cooperative, led by a young woman.


Outcome 2:

Seeks the development of micro enterprises in the field of local development and in relation to the market.


Outcome Achievements:

  • All micro-entrepreneurs were linked to the competitive market. As examples, agricultural products were sold to national supermarket chains, and in another case sales of crafts has been through a fashion designer who trained the artisans (vegetable fiber textile) in new products, and then purchased them for resale in the domestic market and in the United States.
  • The JP allowed beneficiaries to test their products, assess the way of doing business, check their production costs, approach new markets, and receive feedback regarding product quality and competitive prices.
  • Many businesses benefited from simple equipment designed to improve the quality and profitability of production.
  • Tourist facilities were created to provide national and international visitors with new cultural and ecological products, which were validated through the JP by tour operators, who now include these destinations on their list of offerings.
  • Institutions are aware of the importance of innovation among the micro-entrepreneurs to develop their business and to create employment and incomes in the rural areas.


Best Practices:

  • The inclusive and active participation of the beneficiaries and implementing partners from the initial design and planning of the programs was key to increase the sustainability of the expected results.
  • Establishment of an independent Coordination Unit office, which also provided workspace for consultants linked to non-resident agencies, contributed to coordination in the spirit of Delivering as One. And provided a meeting point where all meetings were conducted.
  • Regular presence in the areas of intervention. While the agencies and coordination unit were based in the capital, staff traveled regularly to discuss and coordinate directly with local actors. This contributed to greater ownership and empowerment.


Lessons Learned:

  • Coordination of actors and actions: The complexity of these programs and the number of actors directly involved in the implementation of activities involved the need for an induction period at the beginning of the program organization to align the technical team. Responsibility for design, planning, management and accountability should be centralized. Moreover, the geographic dispersion meant it was not possible to do joint implementation in some areas of intervention.
  • Simplification of administrative processes. The different administrative processes of the participating organizations often delayed implementation. Given all agencies had separate accountability there wasn’t a clear understanding of activities and disbursements.
  • The pressure to implement and show results took focus away from sustainability of the priority initiatives.
  • The lack of an aligned communications strategy meant the programme was perceived as a set of disjointed actions. In some cases, agencies prioritized their own visibility instead of the partnership.
  • The high turnover of institutional officials and other staff hampered decision making and implementation.
  • The lack of a common monitoring strategies together with the scarce participation of some actors in the development of results frameworks, and the MDG-F requirement that 70% of funds be committed before further disbursements take place often translated into an action focused approach to meet the demand of the donor in contrast with a results based approach and strategic decision making to achieve the targets set out in the framework.
  • The large number of participating agencies delayed decision making. Participation of non-resident Participating UN Organizations caused further delays.
  • High participation of women in a programme is not necessarily an indicator of mainstreaming a gender perspective. The incorporation of a gender perspective in monitoring and evaluation of a programme should go beyond simple data disaggregation.
  • Paving the way for the changes in complex development processes requires medium to long term programmes. 


More details can be found in the documents below.

Recent Documents
Key Figures
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If you have questions about this programme you may wish to contact the RC office in Panama or the lead agency for the programme.

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