Did you know that 2017 is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development? According to the World Tourism Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, tourism has the highest impact on poverty reduction when the poor benefits directly through employment in tourism enterprises or through establishing their own tourism-related businesses.
But how can we ensure that the economic benefits of the world’s expanding tourism industry reach those that need them the most? In February, I had another opportunity to witness MiCrédito’s innovative spirit in action, this time in support of local tourism at Nicaragua’s first trade show for micro, small, and medium tourism-related businesses. MiCrédito, along with several other microfinance institutions, banks, and suppliers for tourism businesses, was present at this show which gave entrepreneurs from the tourism sector the opportunity to network and learn about the financing opportunities available to grow their businesses.
What struck me most about MiCrédito’s approach to the show was the importance that the team placed on learning from the micro and small entrepreneurs. The loan officers provided information about the institution’s loan products and services and processed loan applications, but they also listened to the potential clients as they described their experiences and challenges of working in the tourism sector. As a sponsor of the fair, MiCrédito was given the opportunity to facilitate a session on Financial Education for Tourism Professionals. The session was interactive; the MiCrédito team provided some financial management tips while the entrepreneurs offered feedback about their financing needs.
MiCrédito, like MEDA, values and prioritizes investing in entrepreneurship as a powerful way to alleviate poverty. In a country like Nicaragua where the tourism industry is rapidly growing each year, MiCrédito has recognized the tourism sector both as an important business market and as an opportunity to promote economic growth and inclusion. Investing in local tourism is powerful because it promotes sustainability, ensuring that income from tourism remains in local communities. MiCrédito is already working on a product that will be targeted at tourism entrepreneurs (MiCrédiTours) and I have no doubt that once developed and approved, this product will provide an important opportunity for local entrepreneurs to establish their own tourism-related businesses, providing a more prosperous future for thousands of Nicaraguans!