The Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs is partnering with the World Environment Center, a global non-profit, to launch the Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas Innovation Challenge to source local innovations that have helped small and medium enterprises, or SMEs, grow and succeed.
In 2008, twelve Western Hemisphere countries, including the United States, launched the Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas Initiative. This high-level forum allowed leaders to exchange policy ideas that extend the benefits of our mutual free trade agreements.
Since 2008, the membership has grown to 16 member countries, one observer, and four international organizations. These countries and organizations understand the promise of economic and social opportunity and are working to empower small businesses, facilitate trade, build and modernize the workforce, support inclusion of indigenous people and other historically marginalized groups, and promote sustainable business practices. SMEs create the vast majority of new jobs in the Hemisphere, but often struggle to grow and remain competitive in the global marketplace.
The Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas Innovation Challenge looks to address barriers for SME growth and success. We want innovators to tell us how they helped improve market access for local small and medium businesses, or helped them meet trade standards, improve workers' rights, even adopt clean technology. Winning solutions with a proven track-record will then be scaled up to a national or international level as part of the Challenge Competition.
The Challenge is open to all organizations whose proposals feature at least one partner operating in a Pathways member country, be it a non-profit organization, a private company, or a public entity. As many as four winners will each receive up to $500,000, and technical support to expand.
You may register online from now until April 16, 2014, at http://challenge.wec.org/
Those registrants who meet eligibility requirements may then fill out applications. The application process begins on March 12, 2014 and closes on April 30.
Once again, you may register on line at http://challenge.wec.org/