Suchitoto, El Salvador — For Americans nauseated by the federal takeover of seemingly everything these days, a recent gathering here recalled what once made the U.S. great: entrepreneurs leading companies that create goods and services and deliver jobs, profits, and wealth. While Washington Democrats seem bent on hammering entrepreneurs into dust, here they were applauded and showcased as role models for this region and the world beyond.
Thirty miles northeast of San Salvador, the Pioneers of Prosperity (PoP) Awards were bestowed in this Spanish-colonial town of 7,000, where roosters crow at midnight and bright-purple bougainvillea blossoms cascade onto cobblestone streets. After evaluating some 650 applicant companies on their commercial prowess, employee relations, environmental stewardship, and public-leadership potential, event organizers chose ten nominees from Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Panama.
Each finalist firm secured $40,000 from the Inter-American Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund. Among these, two runners-up earned an additional $75,000 each, while the grand-prize winner scored another $100,000. This $650,000 purse — which must be invested in technical infrastructure and/or staff training — is a major incentive for private enterprises to replace poverty with opportunity.
The top PoP prize went to Aduanera de Nicaragua (ADENICA), founded in 2000. Its 60 employees handle import and export logistics for domestic and international companies. ADENICA helped one client cut its waiting time to clear goods through customs from 15 days to just 24 hours.
“As our company grows in size and strength,” said ADENICA founder Carolina Lopez, “it serves as a model for other entrepreneurs, especially women, showing that with continued and sustained effort, you can succeed”
“Tourists are drawn here to see our animal life, our forests, and our conservation programs,” said runner-up Silvia Elena Chaves Quesada of Florex, a seven-year-old Costa Rican green-manufacturing company. In a cinematic profile by Emmy-nominated director Jeff Zimbalist, Chaves explains that Florex’s 40 staffers “produce environmentally friendly cleaning products that serve the tourism industry so that our country is true to the image we sell to the world.”