How ITC’s local partners deliver invaluable support to projects on the ground
As part of ITC’s “Linking Central American Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) with the Global Gifts and Home Decoration Market”, funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by ITC in collaboration with the Secretariat for Central American Economic Integration (SIECA) and national implementing partners, APEN’s team was trained by international e-commerce experts in various areas, completing four intensive workshops, with access to various guides, tutorials, and webinars to support their training efforts.
This helped the company support initiatives that benefited local artisans at a time when e-commerce had become vital for their continued growth.
How APEN helps SMEs adopt e-commerce in Nicaragua
Initially fearful of the change required to adopt and leverage the latest technologies (and faced with limited logistics and payment solutions within Nicaragua), the women entrepreneurs supported by APEN were gradually walked through the process of optimising their business for foreign trade using new methodologies and technological solutions.
Harnessing powerful motivation, leadership, and teamwork activities, the APEN team was able to create a collaborative group of entrepreneurs while also leveraging strategic partnerships to help educate these women on export management, market research, digital content, digital marketing techniques, etc.
Driving visibility for growing e-commerce companies
Beyond educating and uniting this group of entrepreneurs, the team at APEN also prepared publications in the Nicaragua Exporta Magazine, sharing testimonials and special mentions across various webinars and broadcasts to drive visibility and traffic for their businesses on social networks.
As Yudyth Cerda, Business Intelligence Specialist at APEN explains, “This project has managed to drastically change the vision of businesswomen and their way of doing business. Today, they are businesswomen with a more open mind, more confident of their abilities and much more motivated to be the pioneers in Nicaragua in entering the world of electronic commerce.”
Looking to the future: How APEN plans to support the growth of online commerce within Nicaragua
The team at APEN is dedicated to supporting the growth of online commerce within Nicaragua. APEN is committed to supporting and training companies within the region, while also helping artisans and producers in their adoption of new technologies.
As part of this ongoing support, APEN plans to strengthen alliances amongst service providers, to create more effective solutions for companies exporting their products through e-commerce channels.
The team also hopes to have a wider impact within the region, encouraging bank entities to create more functional payment methods for companies, while acting as a driving force behind much-needed legislation to stimulate and regulate e-commerce within Nicaragua.
Thanks to APEN’s support in 2020, ITC beneficiaries in Nicaragua received much-needed guidance and support in exporting their handmade crafts to new customers around the world, while supporting sustainable creation across borders and regions!
Success Stories from Nicaragua
Owned by Ángela Menchaca and Ángela Huergo, SearfinesArt offers carved and hand-painted cedar wood figures. The company has grown from a local business to an e-commerce venture that reaches customers worldwide. Today, “The Angelas” as they are affectionately known, have launched their own eBay and Etsy stories, optimised their Facebook and Instagram profiles, and exported products to the United States, Puerto Rico, Italy, Mexico, Spain, and beyond!
Leather & Art
Founded in 1991, Association of Producers and Exporters of Nicaragua (otherwise referred to as ‘APEN’) is a trusted partner of ITC, helping to design and execute training programmes and mentoring for businesses within Nicaragua to successfully approach foreign markets.
Led by Piedad Aguilar, Leather & Art is dedicated to the production of leather bags and accessories. As part of their work with APEN, the company updated their website for the first time since 2005 (it is now fully optimised for search engines), and implemented new sales strategies for eBay and Etsy, as well as Facebook and Instagram . One of the messages that Piedad now shares with other businesswomen like her is “Don’t be afraid, start training!”.
Created and led by María Isabel Montoya, Nicahat’s produces pita hats made by Nicaraguan artisans. Through the project implemented by APEN, María Isabel created her own e-commerce website and an online store on Etsy , through which she was able to generate sales and export her products to the United States. According to María Isabel Montoya, “this is a dream come true!”.