When COVID-19 was first known in Guatemala, it was a shock for Estefany, manager of the PW program in AMG Guatemala. AMG is a PW partner that serves more than 8,000 children and their families in Guatemala, and more than 800 children in their headquarters in Guatemala City.
“When I saw that the businesses we support were closed down, I felt like I touched rock bottom,” Estefany reflects. “I felt the urge to help, and I was filled with feelings of solidarity, wanting to support people and I wanted to show them that both the bad and the good we would be there. So instead of focusing on feelings, we focused on solutions.”
Estefany and her team knew online activities were the only way to keep in contact with their clients, so they started making those connections right away through WhatsApp and Skype. They started by making one-on-one calls to each client to touch base, ask how they are doing, and determine how to best support them.
A difficulty that they faced is that in the communities they serve, not all clients have access to stable internet or strong bandwidth, which has proven to be especially challenging with the global pivot to e-commerce. However, AMG prioritized helping their entrepreneurs build out their online presence, and were able to support multiple clients in taking advantage of social networking sites like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and YouTube.
“We are helping our clients to create their web pages on social networks, we also are creating short videos to promote their products and their businesses online, even [enabling] them to close online sales.”
Additionally, AMG started reaching out to others to do one-on-one mentoring. They have experts on their team who have experience in business consulting, and these are the volunteers that have been working on doing mentoring sessions and ongoing business consulting.
“The online mentoring started very strongly. We have been working on making a format for a complete evaluation of each business, which had not been done before, more attention is being devoted to each business at a one-on-one level.”
In addition to mentoring each business individually, AMG is delivering business webinars with practical topics such as managing costs, increasing sales, online customer service, etc. AMG plans to continue supporting the entrepreneurs in their network by offering another session of the Partners Worldwide Microbusiness Curriculum soon.
Despite the initial shock, fear, and confusion, as well as other practical challenges, Estefany and her team at AMG are working hard to ensure that the businesses in their community not only survive, but are equipped to continue to flourish.