01.JPG Chronogram of the 2016 Honduras Startup accelerator from hondurastartup.com

In December 2016, I spent a month in Honduras helping launch the new USAID Local Governance Activity and, replicating some work I did in El Salvador last year, I decided to get to know the innovation and technology community. Why?

DAI is currently launching four new USAID-funded projects in Honduras: local governance, a justice & human rights project, an environmental governance project, and the new school-based violence prevention project. My goal in writing this piece is the same as it was when I wrote Hey USAID, Want to Promote Innovation?: to get those new projects to think creatively about how to achieve their goals.

With mobile phones flooding the Honduran market—as we found through our Digital Insights work there last year—the opportunity to reach people in both urban and rural areas through their phones is particularly ripe in Honduras. Tech entrepreneurs are adept at understanding people’s needs, creating prototypes, rapidly testing them, improving them, and then rolling them out to the public. This iterative process is called agile design, and it is industry standard among tech folks. As we’re working with Honduran communities to look for new solutions to social problems, we’ll be looking to the tech community to help us implement an agile process.

In short: Top-down, proposal-defined, pre-proscribed solutions are out; co-created, tech-enabled, iterative solutions are in. The challenge is working with USAID to design an agile process that still includes all the typical reporting and budgeting requirements remain in place. But, utilizing the talents of Honduras’s technology and innovation community, we can and will find a middle ground, as we are doing in Guatemala with the development of the mobile municipal transparency app.

So, with no further delay, our Honduran innovators:

Honduras Startup team

three.jpg L to R: Cristian Garner, Robert Lee Mudgett, & Manuel Bardales during Honduras Startup 2016 Robert Lee Mudgett, Manuel Bardales, and Cristian Garner are the formidable team of entrepreneurs behind Honduras Start-up, a government- and donor-sponsored startup accelerator that featured multiple rounds of selection and finished at the end of 2016. Honduras Startup featured a Startup Academy, which trained more than 200 teams of innovators in the basics of business management and entrepreneurship, as well as a live, national TV pitch for the 10 finalist groups. Among the top 10 innovations are EduBox, an education management software company; UniMed, a telemedicine app; and Green Technology, an agricultural tech company. The team is preparing now to launch Honduras Startup 2017.

Paulette Talavera

02.jpg Paulette Talavera presents at Cowork Connect's

Paulette is the founder of Connect Cowork, one of the two co-working spaces in Tegucigalpa. Connect Cowork provides a space for entrepreneurs and small firms to work, is a great place to meet innovators, hosts a ton of events, and is centrally located just a couple of blocks from the U.S. Embassy. More than a few influential tech companies use Connect, including Acklen Avenue, Cinta-X, and No Somos Rockola. Paulette also launched SonoLabs, a voice talent service, in 2005.

Ricardo Irias

03.jpg Ricardo Irias (R) presents at the 2016 TIGO Business Forum in Honduras

Ricardo is a San Pedro Sula-based entrepreneur who is the organizer Honduras Startup Weekend San Pedro Sula event, a weekend innovation and entrepreneurship conference that has helped hundreds of young Hondurans learn how to turn business ideas into real businesses. Ricardo is also professor of entrepreneurship and strategy at UNITEC-Honduras’s premier technical university-and the co-founder of sube.la, which is democratizing e-commerce in Latin America. He also speaks publicly on entrepreneurship and innovation.

Pedro Cerrato

04b.jpg Pedro Cerrato, standing, presents CEmprende Honduras to a crowd

Pedro, along side co-founders Catalina Mejía and Dina Nuñez runs CEmprende Honduras, a collaborative community of entrepreneurs that encourages innovation and social entrepreneurship, particularly for rural areas and the agricultural sector. Pedro and the CEmprende team are actively working with budding entrepreneurs to grow the community and hosting monthly mixers around Tegucigalpa, and recently won an award from the German Fulbright Alumni Association. He also runs an active WhatsApp group focused on innovation and entrepreneurship, an outgrowth of the CEmprende project.

If you work in Honduras, or would like to, and want to get in touch with any of these innovators, let us know at [email protected] or on Facebook. If you’d like more from Digital@DAI, sign up to get our blog in your inbox once a week.