Erin Robinson addresses participants in Small Business Development Course

Living in rural Costa Rica you learn 2 things fast: first is that most people can’t survive on only one source of income and second is that women are fast becoming an important factor in wealth generation.

A while back I blogged about the way many individuals and families make a living by working in a number of ventures at the same time: Small Ventures with Big Hearts For example the family breadwinner might grow coffee, porter on Mt Chirripó AND run a taxi business while his wife might raise chickens or sew for a living – or both! This way families have been able to keep up with the rising costs of food, children’s education and other day-to-day expenses.

In the same vein it has become increasingly common for women to start their own businesses. Gone are the days when women can call themselves solely ‘ama de casa’ or housewife. They too are finding the time to start home-based businesses that add to the family pot or give them a little extra spending money, at the same time allowing them to stay home and look after the family.

Working in groups to solve business challenges

In March Proyecto San Gerardo addressed these trends with a course aimed at Small Business Development for residents of San Gerardo, and surrounding villages. 38 people attended the 3 day course taught by Erin Robinson, a small business development consultant from Vancouver, Canada employed by Vancity Credit Union who already support Proyecto San Gerardo with donated computers.
Erin covered topics such as how to assess your market (or if you even have one!), how to compete and how to collaborate, promotion and pricing and the inevitable accounting procedures necessary to monitor profit and loss. She also spent 3

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days visiting about 20 individual businesses in and around the community to provide specific analysis and advice.

The course was especially appreciated since small business owners in the area don’t have the resources to approach consultants or take business courses generally. This course, provided free by Proyecto San Gerardo, will give many people the motivation and know-how to take the next steps in growing their businesses and becoming financially viable.

Proyecto San Gerardo exists to provide opportunities for rural Costa Ricans in the

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Rivas area become more competent in order to access better jobs. We provide English conversation classes, computer skills training, and apprenticeship courses in our Café Bambú as well as scholarships and much more. Contact us via this website if you would like to donate to support us or find out more about volunteering with one of our programs.

Alex Zuniga (interpreter) Erin Robinson, Vancity & Pedro Monge (PSG board member)