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Building Resilient Businesses in Honduras: María’s Story


March 4, 2024 • 3 min read

In 2020 and 2021, two major crises – the Covid-19 pandemic and back-to-back tropical storms – increased the poverty rate in Honduras by an estimated 4.2%. Four of every ten people in Honduras are believed to live in poverty.

A Struggling Business 

Resilient businesses are the lifeblood of any community. María Azucena Márquez Bonilla has lived in the town of El Verdún, Esparta Municipality, Atlántida Department, for over thirty years. Over the past decade, María has worked hard to maintain her small grocery store, which is her primary source of income. However, María has struggled to earn a living in recent years.

Many small business owners in Honduras have not received formal training. As a result, their businesses are often poorly managed – and when external shocks or crises disrupt their day-to-day operations, it can be difficult to return to business as usual. When COVID-19 and two back-to-back tropical storms devastated the region, Honduras was plunged into a financial crisis.

“Because of the financial crisis, I had few products to offer,” María recalls. “Sales were low.” Communities in Honduras rely on small grocers like María’s to provide basic goods and necessities for reasonable prices. Without them, households are vulnerable to food insecurity.

GOAL is implementing the Humanitarian Response for Food Security in Honduras, funded by USAID. The project aims to reduce food insecurity by supporting livelihood recovery in urban areas.

Under the project, María received training in customer service, business management, and accounting, among other entrepreneurial skills. She also received voucher assistance so she could purchase some of the necessary items that her store needed.

María, fellow merchants, and GOALie Fanny Barahona standing in front of María’s shop, next to the emergency alert board.

Uniting for Resilience 

As part of the project, María joined the ‘La Bendiciones’ business network, which brought together ten grocery stores in the communities of La Colmena, El Verdún and Cerritos de Esparta. Now, María collaborates with other business owners to improve her purchasing prices and profit margins. Together, they are proud owners of resilient businesses.

“We’ve managed to improve prices. Previously, I didn’t buy certain things because I didn’t know where to find them. Now, we have a distributor, and we pay better prices because we place our orders together,” María explains.

GOAL also provides emergency preparedness training to small business owners, to ensure that shops can remain open during times of crisis. María’s grocery store now plays a key role in managing disaster risk on a neighbourhood level. GOAL erected an emergency alert board outside the shop so members of the community could stay informed about potential emergencies, evacuation routes, and response plans.

María also received training on how to use a fire extinguisher. Now, she’s equipped with the tools and the knowledge she needs to support her family, business, and community from crisis – whether those be small electrical fires or dangerous natural hazards.

“Five years from now, I hope to see my grocery store even bigger, with even more products,” María says, smiling.

For María, part of owning a resilient business is being prepared to handle any crisis that comes her way – including fires