Oct 27, 2020

Awakening hope and agency to create solutions.

Participant, Cohort 1
Participant, Cohort 1

It has been 6 months since Nicaragua's tourism industry came to a complete halt.  Thousands of minimum wage jobs lost and non-exisiting safety nets have brought people into economic fragility.  Day after day people have been waking up to the hope that international flights to Nicaragua have resumed, thinking that perhaps tourism will trickle back in and the promise from hotels and restaurants that "you will be rehired when tourists come again" will prove true.  As time passes, the light of hope of the industry becomes dimmer and dimmer.  In a country with a multi-layered crisis, tourism isn't the only affected industry, it's just a complex one as it has been functioning as the “biggest job generating industry” in several Nicaragua cities over the last decade.

Women truly have been hit hardest as they represent a majority of the labor force in the tourism industry and with a large percentage of absent fathers, the task of sheltering, feeding and educating children is testing.  The emotional burden of going through two acute crises in a two-year period along with the installed fear from all fronts tends to freeze people's dreams and numb the grittiest of characters.

As an organization with the mission to strenghthen women's leadership in order to boost their growth, we honor the urgent call to identify women across our country who are ready to receive support, training, mentorship and be reminded that they are not alone.  Thanks to the support of over 50 generous donors, we have been able to launch our first cohort of the Relief & Training:100 unemployed Nicaraguan Women.

On September 22nd we launched our first virtual program with 25 women from Granada.   Initially, there was a general sense of inadecuacy in most of the participants: for many of them this was their first class online.  Or perhaps their first formal class since sixth grade. The frustation was evident, we could tell the mere act of signing up to this program and showing up was getting the participants far outside their comfort zones.  On our side, we knew connectivity and technology would be a variable that could potentially threaten our program, but given the circumstances and the urgent need, we kept going with a lot of patience and compassion for everyone--them and ourselves.

Throughout the first 5 sessions, we have gone through big lessons in self discovery and confidence, leadership, employability and entrepreneurship.   We have been working to create a safe space for women to share their strengths, challenges and most importantly to build a support group in which meaningful dialogue is possible.  We have seen women move from fear to courage, from silence to expression, from feeling hopeless to feeling empowered and ready to continue with the confidence that they can!

Over the next month we will continue with training and business planning to eventually move into business pitches and grant competition.

We want to thank you for your generous contributions to advance our mission to empower women, our goal is to reach at least 100 women, but we are motivated by a bigger dream to reach many hundreds across Nicaragua. 

We look forward to keeping in closer touch as the year progresses toward business pitches of the first cohort.  Thank you for your generous and enduring support.

Understanding that you have already donated, we kindly ask you to reach out to five friends who care about Nicaragua and women empowerment and ask them to support our fundraising campaign.  Every little bit helps.

Best regards from Nicaragua,

Xiomara Díaz

President
Board of Directors
Voces Vitales Nicaragua

Cohort 1 Relief&Training:100 unemployed Nic. Women
Cohort 1 Relief&Training:100 unemployed Nic. Women

Links:

May 27, 2020

Going into our 2nd month apart. But together.

Voces Vitales Nicaragua Mentoring Walk 2020
Voces Vitales Nicaragua Mentoring Walk 2020

Greetings from Nicaragua.  This week marks the second month that our community of women entrepreneurs and young leaders has being physically part.  Nonetheless we are together in supporting each other and identifying best ways to navigate this time.  Just like in 2018, it is really hard for our entrepeneurial community to deal with the disruptive nature of the crisis and most of all, the uncertainty.  Just like in 2018, we have also seen an overwhelming capacity for resilience--we are amazed by the human ability to observe, pivot and adapt.  

Over 2 months ago, on March 7th we were lucky to still be able to hold one of the most powerful events in the whole year.  Along with more than 14,000 people from the global Vital Voices network, we commemorated Women's International Day with a mentoring walk.  In Nicaragua we had the participation of over 220 women between mentors and mentees.  For the very first time we also integrated a group of male mentors who joined us in sending and living through the clear message that we are ALL the solution and that power expands the moment it is shared.  The event took place at INCAE, a beautiful university campus where we all put our intention and action for transformation around women's advancement in society. 

Though this was our last in person opportunity, we are grateful our network was able to experience such a dynamic event right before the COVID-19 crisis.  Our network was able to strengthen connections and commitment, which have kept us all going at such a critical time.

Our first cicle of Mujer Voz Vital-- a 3-month mentoring and business training program, was scheduled to start at the end of March.  In the midst of huge uncertainty in Nicaragua, we decided to be cautious and to transform our program into an all-virtual version.  We were navigating unknown waters and yet the results so far have been great.  The physical distancing will never allow us to connect in the same way, but it has  allowed us to have important conversations we would have never had in person. It has also expanded our network, without the geographical limitations the internet provides, we have been lucky to engage speakers from abroad.  Something that would have seemed impossible, even if only in in our minds, before.  

The women in the Vital Voices network have impressed us with their resilience, but well beyond that, with their empathy and willingness to be of service to others.  Over and over we have seen powerful demostrations of generosity, even when we all know, entrepreneurs in Nicaragua are down to 5% of sales and in some cases, to 0%.  We foresee even much harder times coming for this ecosystem as Nicaragua's economy was already severely weakened from the 2018 political crisis.  Our organization also has a huge challenge to continue operating, but we are inspired and deeply commited to our network.  Today more than ever, we understand that our mission is necessary.

During this difficult time, we appreciate your enormous support.  It has allowed Voces Vitales Nicaragua to continue bringing opportunities to the women in our network.  Thank you for your belief in the women and in our community.  Without you, we wouldn't be together during this time apart.

Mujer Voz Vital Training Session
Mujer Voz Vital Training Session

Links:

Jan 31, 2020

Voces Vitales Nicaragua Update

Dear friends of Voces Vitales,

Thank you again for your generous contributions toward the training and mentorship for 300 women in Nicaragua.  We are excited to update you on our progress, which is greatly thanks to the support of each one of you. 

In short, we have began efforts to enroll women for our upcoming mentoring and training events, have engaged with extraordinary mentors who will dedicate time and efforts to the women in our network and have raised a total of $9,924 through our first-ever crowdfunding campaign.

We are grateful for the support and positive results. Your help allowed us to fundraise towards the different programs we hold throughout the year, and beyond that, it allowed us to accomplish the GlobalGiving challenge in order to become a formal and vetted organization on their platform.  This means we will continue to access more opportunities, fund matchings and possibilities to use other partner platforms.

In the midst of trying times, Voces Vitales continues to be deeply commited to women and girls in Nicaragua.  We are certaing that support, training and mentorship are key for early-stage entrepreneurial efforts to survive and for new leadership to grow in Nicaragua.

We loook forward to keeping in closer touch as the year progresses.  Thank you for your enduring support.

 

Kind regards,


Xiomara & Voces Vitales Nicaragua Team

Links:

 
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