50 Years Creating a Hemisphere of Opportunity for All

Create Economic Opportunities

The key to development is self-sufficiency. PADF focuses on generating livelihoods and improving incomes among disadvantaged people.

Although income inequality has begun to decline in Latin America, it remains the most unequal region in the world. The richest one-tenth of the population earns 48 percent of total income, while the poorest tenth earns only 1.6 percent. The inequality gap is enormous. Throughout the region wages remain low, unemployment rates have not declined, while informal sector employment has increased. Today, the employment problem in Latin America is one of the greatest challenges that governments face in the region. 

PADF believes that the key to development is self-sufficiency. PADF's programs focus on generating livelihoods and increasing incomes for disadvantaged individuals and families through microenterprise development, skills training, agricultural improvements, natural resource conservation, and expansion of community infrastructure. Through various programs, PADF is working to create economic opportunities by:

  • Generating Livelihoods for Disadvantaged People
  • Developing Micro, Small, Medium, and Community Enterprises
  • Supporting Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Protecting and Conserving the Environment
  • Implementing Public-Private Partnerships and Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Facilitating South-South Exchanges and Cross-Border Cooperation

Generating Employment for Disadvantaged People

Employment generation is one of PADF’s main priorities so as to enable self-reliance.  Using a variety of approaches, our programs help support micro and medium-size businesses, provide skills training to youth and vulnerable people, improve agricultural conditions and techniques, expand and improve local infrastructure and focus on natural resources conservation. To assure maximum benefits, we work with local residents who are disadvantaged because of economic disparity, civil conflict, racial or ethnic prejudices and lack of access to basic opportunities, ensuring that our programs create the essential conditions for sustainable economic growth.

In Colombia, PADF partnered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of Social Prosperity (DPS) to start an $18 million pilot program to help 11,700  internally displaced persons build their own small businesses and create jobs. Through this initiative, called “Entrepreneurship Income Path,” or “Ruta de Ingresos de Empresarismo” (RIE), PADF provided technical assistance, business training, in-kind and cash assistance and social counseling and connected participants with local business associations and banking institutions to obtain seed capital.

Developing Micro, Small, Medium, and Community Enterprises

For decades, PADF has supported local businesses with the goal of creating jobs and giving people access to additional income and increased wealth. This is why PADF supports entrepreneurs and the creation of micro, small and community enterprises as a way to improve the capacity of specific communities, particularly the most vulnerable, such as displaced and disadvantaged people. Our programs provide capacity building, training and technical assistance, helping communities implement alternative development and creating new income streams that contribute to their overall development.

In March, PADF launched a four-year USAID-funded program in Haiti called Leveraging Effective Application of Investments (LEAD). This initiative was designed to strengthen small and medium-size enterprises in Haiti through a business plan competition in order to select innovative and viable businesses with growth potential and attract investment mostly from the Haitian diaspora and other international and domestic sources. The program focuses on three main development corridors, including Cap-Haïtien, Saint-Marc and Port-au-Prince. The first business plan competition selected four winning entrepreneurs who received matching grant awards to help grow their businesses and create durable employment for thousands of people.

Supporting Agriculture and Rural Development

PADF is an acknowledged leader in working with small holders and off farm processors within the value chain transferring technical knowledge of agricultural production and marketing, soil and water conservation, agroforestry, natural resources management. PADF’s agroforestry programs have helped community-based farming organizations raise the incomes of small producers through sustainable agricultural practices that promote soil conservation and reforestation. Such programs in drug producing countries like Colombia have provided peasant farmers with alternative sources of income that has discouraged coca production and drug trafficking and stimulated new export crops.

Protecting and Conserving the Environment

In many parts of the Americas environmental conservation remains a challenge not only in rural areas but also in urban settings. At PADF we believe that protecting and conserving the environment are not just good ideas, but necessary steps to ensure that communities can safeguard their ecological heritage as a way to preserve the environment for future generations.

With these needs in mind, longtime partner Caterpillar Inc. funded the Biodiversity Condominium (ConBio) environmental sustainability project in southern Brazil, allowing PADF to foster the protection of remaining green urban areas in the municipality of Campo Largo, and improving public understanding of conservation and its importance. This project will build lasting linkages between the local community and its green areas through educational and recreational activities with students, property owners, and employees from Caterpillar, in order to encourage better environmental management and conservation of these vital spaces.

Implementing Public-Private Partnerships and Corporate Social Responsibility

For 50 years, PADF’s mandate has been to fuse public and private resources to support development in Latin America and the Caribbean. PADF, therefore, is a respected leader in the mobilization of corporate and other private sector funding. PADF works with many corporations interested in investing socially in the region.  Innovative models include leveraging significant private contributions to match public funds; implementing mutually defined development and humanitarian initiatives; engaging business networks such as American Chambers of Commerce throughout the region; and partnering with businesses that want to deliver in-kind donations such as equipment, tools and medical equipment and supplies.

In 2012, PADF implemented more than $10 million in projects in 26 countries through programs funded by corporate partners. The Foundation also raised an additional $2.75 million from partners Merck, Caterpillar, MTV/Viacom, Teléfonica, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., Chevron, EMC, Boeing and the Miami Foundation to carry out projects related to child and youth labor prevention in Mexico, disaster relief in Brazil and Haiti, regional youth education and prevention of maternal mortality.

Facilitating South-South Exchanges and Cross-Border Cooperation

South-South cooperation continues to expand as some emerging economies are playing a more active role in the development of their own countries and that of the region around them. This strategy is increasing the exchange of knowledge, technology and resources among developing nations. PADF and the Organization of American States encourage member states to develop and expand cooperation in areas where they have unique expertise, technical assistance and training resources.  The OAS-PADF program along the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic is an example of such an effort.

PADF’s role as a regional leader in the marshaling of South-South Cooperation funding continues to grow. Working with Colombia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, PADF received more than $1.5 million to consolidate and strengthen cooperation with Central America and the Caribbean, adding to the more than $1.2 million the Foundation received in 2011. This program remains important to the region, as it provides technical advisors and training to Caribbean-Central American countries, including technical training, natural disaster preparedness and mitigation, food security, nutrition, bilingual education and academic exchanges. It also works in special regions such as along the Colombia-Panama border.