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Guatemala: Community Economic Development Facilitator

Before You Apply
You can only have one active Peace Corps Volunteer application, so choose a position that best fits your skills and interest. You have the opportunity to tell us if you’d like to be considered for other openings and more about the ones that interest you most! See application process

Project Description

Guatemala currently has one of the highest levels of poverty throughout Latin America, with rural areas and indigenous populations disproportionately affected. In recent years, the Guatemalan government has increased efforts towards poverty reduction and greater economic equality through the implementation of a number of agreements, national policies, and normative and political frameworks. The Community Economic Development (CED) Program supports a number of national strategies and creates a space for Volunteers to focus on prioritized populations (women, youth, and indigenous) through capacity building efforts with the overall goal of advancing gender equity and financial inclusion in the communities of Guatemala. The project has a two-pronged approach, focused on both strengthening organizations (governmental, non-governmental, and community-based) and the training of individuals in leadership positions to ensure the transfer of essential knowledge and practices—with a specific focus on personal money management skills and basic business skills-- to community members and leaders. 

When working to strengthen organizations, Volunteers will work at the local, municipal (county) and departmental (state) levels to promote increased collaboration, information transfer and resource sharing between and among project stakeholders, which may include governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and community-based organizations. Volunteers will facilitate participatory tools and exercises with an assets-based approach to enable communities to recognize their strengths and be agents of their own change. They will also use coaching skills to support work partners to increase collaboration with strategic partners and contextualize and implement information transfer and resource sharing at the local level to the benefit of prioritized populations

Volunteers will also work to strengthen the capacity of community leaders and groups to implement projects that support and promote gender equity and financial inclusion in a participatory manner. This work may include helping to conduct a participatory organizational capacity assessment, co-planning and co-training asset-based community development sessions, and/or co-facilitating project design and management processes. In their day-to-day work, Volunteers play a critical role in accompanying organizations throughout their gradual organizational capacity development process by providing a unique ongoing and supportive presence.

When working with individuals, Volunteers will help train local actors on personal money management and basic business skills, as well as use coaching skills to help community members apply new skills and knowledge directly to their lives. These trainings will also include topics of gender equity and financial inclusion. Volunteers will co-facilitate participatory tools and exercises with work partners to identify and collaborate with local organizations for technical advice. 

Work partners for CED Volunteers include representatives from the Women’s Secretary of the Presidency (SEPREM), Women’s Municipal Office (DMM), Ministry of Economy (MINECO), and local Economic Development Offices (OFE). In all facets of the CED program, Volunteers are always expected to take the role of a co-facilitator and co-trainer, to promote the sustainability of the project in the community. Volunteers’ projects and day-to-day activities are intended to contribute to improved performance of the community organizations with which they work; increased collaboration among community organizations that support prioritized populations; and greater local contextualization and implementation of nationally available resources to prioritized populations. Through the collective efforts of all CED Volunteers, the CED project will increase the agency of priority populations to advance gender equity and financial inclusion for both themselves and their communities.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field 
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any business discipline 
• 5 years professional experience in business management; with NGOs and/or in community development
• Masters of Business Administration degree or a Masters of Arts/Masters of Science degree in Gender Studies, Business Administration, Marketing, Public Administration, Management, Accounting, Banking, or Finance 
• Knowledge in Financial Education/Literacy and micro-finance
• Business advising/coaching experience 
• At least 1 year of experience working with cooperatives, small or micro business, or credit unions involving management or administration, sales and marketing, cost analysis, financial planning, inventory control and/or bookkeeping
• Experience employing organizational capacity development strategies including participatory assessment, decision making, and planning processes with community based organizations and/or in community development projects
• Ability to form and motivate groups of adults; facilitating participatory, asset-based processes
• Experience and/or interest in business, community development, and outreach 
• Experience teaching or providing trainings to adults; especially with women, youth, or indigenous populations
• Self-starter, open-minded, friendly, and persistent in the face of challenges
• Strong communication and interpersonal skills

Required Language Skills

Candidates must meet one or more of the language requirements below in order to be considered for this position. 
A. Completed 4 years of high school Spanish coursework within the past 8 years 
B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college‐level coursework within the past 6 years 
C. Native/fluent speaker of Spanish 

Candidates who do not meet the language proficiency levels above can take the language placement exams to demonstrate their level of proficiency. Competitive applicants typically attain a score of 50 on the Spanish College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).
Volunteers need to demonstrate an Intermediate level of oral and written proficiency in Spanish for site placement by the end of Pre-Service Training (PST). Most Volunteers will work directly in Spanish and some will work in communities with Mayan languages with support from a Spanish/Mayan speaking community member.. Volunteers serving in areas where Mayan languages are spoken will study the local language once they arrive in their community to assist with integration into the community and basic communication.

Living Conditions

Most Volunteers live in medium-sized to larger rural communities (3,000 - 40,000 people). Volunteers are placed in communities of Guatemala which may be quite mountainous and due to the altitudes, can be cool to cold at night. The majority of communities do have electricity and almost all have running water, but that does not guarantee a steady, continuous supply of either. Fruits, vegetables, and meats are available either in site or in nearby communities. The phone plan Peace Corps provides includes credit for some local calls and limited internet. Most Volunteers have access to internet in their communities either in a local internet café or through the purchase of additional internet data.

Volunteers are required to live with a host family during the 10-week Pre-Service Training (PST) and during the 2 years of service to increase integration and for continuous orientation to the local safety and security concerns. It is important that applicants be not only willing but eager to interact and live with a Guatemalan host family. Most Volunteers cook for themselves during service, but some may opt to eat with their host family or in small restaurants. 

Guatemala is a very traditional and religious society. People’s roles in regards to gender, work, and the community are much more clearly defined than in the U.S. Volunteers must be aware, tolerant, and respectful of their practices, customs, and way of life and they may need to adapt certain behaviors to demonstrate that respect.

Security Policies:
The security environment in Guatemala requires Volunteers to follow policies in order to mitigate potential safety and security risks, such as those related to transportation and travel. As a result, Peace Corps Guatemala has implemented a comprehensive and strict transportation and travel policy for Trainees and Volunteers. We are looking for responsible applicants that are willing to comply with this policy, which includes utilizing identified transportation methods, restricted travel zones, day-light travel only, and using appropriate overnight accommodation. All communities are accessible by public transportation and/or use of the Peace Corps Guatemala shuttle system. Volunteers on official travel or personal leave must adhere to these transportation and travel policies to continue service in Guatemala.
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Guatemala: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Guatemala is happy to accommodate cross-sector couples. We will identify communities with sufficient work opportunities for both volunteers. Your partner can apply and must qualify for:

Youth in Development Program Coordinator

Couples will not live together during the ten weeks of Pre-Service Training (PST). Guatemala’s community-based training model places trainees in communities based on their technical program and Spanish level. Special considerations are given to couples so that they live in nearby communities and they will have more flexibility to see each other (e.g., on weekends). Language acquisition and cultural integration increase when each member of the couple lives with a separate host family. Couples will live together for the duration of their service.

Medical Considerations in Guatemala

  • Guatemala may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; insulin-dependent diabetes; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: none identified.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: none identified.
  • After arrival in Guatemala, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot, to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.