The World Environment Center & Its Partners Launch Second Round of Empower Innovation Challenge Seeking Innovative Projects in the Region

Sep 6, 2023 3:15 PM ET
EIC Empower Innovation Challenge

"Empower Innovation Challenge (EIC), Inspire and Design the Future" is the slogan of a series of competitions that are awarding more than one million dollars to benefit micro, small and medium-sized enterprises owned by women in Latin America. The application period to participate on the second challenge for entries begins on September 1, 2023.

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September. 2023. From September 1st to October 6th of this year, non-profit organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean that are focused on empowering micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) owned by women will have the opportunity to apply for access to funding that will allow them to expand the scope of their initiatives.

The Empower Innovation Challenge (EIC) is an unique competition that offers opportunities for specific projects that enable the amplification of business through small grants, training, access to networks and partnership opportunities with local and international companies. In this second edition, the organizers are opening the call for proposals with a gender focus specializing in green and blue economies in Latin American and Caribbean countries.

The invitation to apply is open to 10 Latin American countries: Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. Participating projects will be implemented by private non-profit organizations and non-governmental non-profit organizations (foundations, civil society organizations, associations, cleaner production centers, among others), universities and private non-profit institutions of higher education.

The targeted sectors range from agriculture, fisheries, sustainable tourism, creative service technologies, light and small manufacturing, and textiles, among others. This series of competitions aims to award more than US$1 million to 24 winners over a two-year implementation period and is funded by the U.S. Department of State (DoS) through the Office of the Secretary of State for Global Women's Issues (S/GWI) together with Global Equity and Equality Action (GEEA) and the Office of Policy Planning Coordination for Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA/PPC).

Interested organizations can learn about the requirements of participation and the required documentation on the official challenge's website.

During the first edition of the challenge, 8 organizations from the region were awarded:

  • Bancalimentos SAS BIC for its project "Creation of green businesses run by rural women" from Colombia;
  • Ecotarcoles with "Pacific Plastic Wood" from Costa Rica;
  • PAQOCHA for its initiative " Connecting knowledge with the Culebrillas community in the province of Bolívar and scaling up the alpaca fiber value chain for Paqocha as part of the Green/Blue economy from Ecuador;
  • Fundación Centro Nacional de Producción Más Limpia with the "MSME WOMEN Program" from El Salvador;
  • The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) received funds for the " Project to Strengthen the Local Institutional Framework for Women and Individual and Collective Microenterprises" from Guatemala;
  • ALLPA Association for Sustainable Development with its proposal " Women of Santa Cruz and Andean Grains" from Peru;
  • Sector3 Social Venture Group's "Escala" project from Peru;
  • Foro Ambiental de Samaná with “Samana Destino del Futuro, Women Entrepreneurs Leading Sustainable Tourism” from the Dominican Republic.

"The objective of carrying out these types of challenges aimed at organizations that benefit MSMEs managed by women is to generate more inclusive growth in each of the participating countries," said Ernesto Samayoa, WEC's Director of Operations for Latin America.

For additional information on how to apply, please visit:

Ernesto Samayoa, Director of Operations - WEC:

About La RED de Innovación e Impacto (La RED)

La RED is an initiative that brings together non-profit and for-profit organizations to support micro, small and medium-sized institutions (MSMEs) in order to promote sustainable economic growth and prosperity in Latin America and the Caribbean (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 the World Environment Center (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 the Nucleo Biotecnología Curauma (NBC) of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso in Chile.

About World Environment Center (WEC)

WEC is an independent, global non-profit, 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.