Washington, D.C. /eNewsChannels/ — Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Craig A. Kelly recognized the success of four Pathways’ Women Entrepreneurs at an awards ceremony yesterday at the Intercontinental Hotel in San Jose, Costa Rica. The women were selected to attend the Pathways to Prosperity Trade Ministerial in Costa Rica, March 3-4, based on the success they have achieved since attending the Pathways’ Women Entrepreneurs Conference hosted by the State Department, together with private sector and NGO partners, in October 2009.

The conference, entitled ACCESS, brought nearly 70 early-career and established entrepreneurs from Pathways countries to Washington, D.C., for workshops on marketing, finance, technology and trade. The conference also launched a regional mentoring network. In the five months since attending the conference, the women have achieved remarkable success. Below are the stories of the women who were recognized.

Jacqueline Perez (Nicaragua) had a small shoe business that was facing closure last year. Consulting with her mentor, she developed a new business plan to re-focus her operations and has now increased the number of her employees and taken the business from possible closure to expansion.

Diana Martinez (Honduras), who specializes in jewelry, applied knowledge she gained from the conference to re-focus her marketing efforts and conduct media outreach, which dramatically increased her sales and led to heightened brand recognition.

Monica Pacheco (Canada) increased her customer base and her sales of “green” reusable carrier bags by restructuring her supply chain and expanding her network of distributors, allowing her to supply wholesalers on a much larger scale.

Jessica Rodriquez (Peru) manages a textile company that employs a network of nearly 700 families in rural artisan cooperatives and microenterprises. Even though textile sales in Peru dropped 30-50 percent in 2009, Jessica was able to meet her sales targets and continue employment opportunities for all of the families that rely on this income.

Preceding the Ministerial, the four women led discussions during a session entitled, “Challenges and Opportunities for Businesswomen in the 21st Century,” and shared their success stories during workshops with businesswomen throughout the hemisphere.

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