Where We Work

Economic Development

Improving livelihoods and community-driven economic development

One in three people in the world live on less than $2 a day. Without access to opportunities to increase their household incomes, these 2.5 billion people will be trapped in an intergenerational cycle of poverty. The barriers to sustained economic growth are numerous and complex, among them:  insufficient capacity for economic development planning; lack of access to credit and markets; weak social services and infrastructure; and mismanagement of natural resources. Women, youth, people with disabilities and populations displaced by natural or man-made disasters are often the most affected by these barriers and the least able to address them. 

What Counterpart International is doing?
Counterpart’s economic development programs aim to enhance livelihoods, job creation, and quality of life through community-driven economic development planning, enhanced productivity and profitability of small and medium businesses, expansion of markets and access to financing, and environmental conservation and restoration. They strengthen the capacity of business associations, users associations and business support organizations to effectively advocate for government policies that enable businesses along the value chain to prosper. Integral to Counterpart's approach is the fostering of partnerships among business, government, non-governmental organizations, and communities to ensure mutual ownership and investment in economic development planning and execution. Counterpart’s programs place emphasis on inclusion of vulnerable groups, especially women, as project implementers and beneficiaries of improved skills to better their lives.

In building economic prosperity, Counterpart designs its programs around the following:

Supporting economic development strategies:

  • Working with local institutions to plan, implement and sustain economic development initiatives;
  • Facilitating economic analysis, linked to local resources and competitiveness;
  • Linking economic development to sustainable natural resource management.

Strengthening key value chains:

  • Prioritizing and strengthening livelihood sectors;
  • Establishing market linkages;
  • Identifying and filling gaps along the value chain;
  • Attracting and providing access to finance, including micro-credit;
  • Building capacity of small-medium enterprises and producers.

Developing and diversifying sustainable and market-based livelihoods:

  • Making new technologies that increase productivity and minimize expenditures available to small-holder farmers, fishermen and entrepreneurs;
  • Incorporating climate change adaptation strategies, such as Disaster Risk Reduction;
  • Promoting clean energy and community-based environmental conservation linked to economic growth;
  • Promoting sustainable practices and long-term management of natural resources.

Women in business:

  • Building household-level assets to enable better coping during economic shocks;
  • Promoting individual and community gardening;
  • Developing associations and cooperatives for production and marketing of products;
  • Establishing savings and credit initiatives, such as Village Savings and Loan Associations.

Counterpart’s Economic Development work currently includes a portfolio of eight programs concentrated in Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa.

Our Approach to Economic Development

Our capabilities within Economic Development:

Defined: Value Chain vs. Supply Chain

Value Chain: The successive stages during which value is created when producing, distributing, and servicing a product. Supply Chain: A system of organizations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. Supply chain activities transform natural resources, raw materials and components into a finished product that is delivered to the end customer.


With our submission "Making Guatemala a Leading Geotourism Destination," Counterpart won Guatemala's Geotourism Challenge, a call for proposals by National Geographic and Ashoka Changemakers, setting in motion our groundbreaking effort to implement Geotourism at a national level.