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  • The San Juan Daily Star

Nonprofit readies to train entrepreneurs, unemployed citizens in eastern towns

Vitrina Solidaria Executive Director Raquel Skerrett Escalera invited residents of the island’s eastern municipalities to be part of a sustainable economic development movement that seeks to impact them in a successful and positive way.

By John McPhaul

In order to promote economic development in the eastern region of Puerto Rico, the nonprofit Vitrina Solidaria is preparing to start a new phase of training for unemployed people and entrepreneurs interested in giving a new direction to their lives in 2023.

Vitrina Solidaria Executive Director Raquel Skerrett Escalera announced Monday that applications are now available for the organization’s job training programs La Y en el Yunque and the small business incubators and accelerators El Yunque Emprende-Business Acceleration. She invited residents of the island’s eastern municipalities to be part of the movement that seeks to impact them in a successful and positive way.

“After completing several successful cycles of both programs, we want to invite all those people who are unemployed or underemployed and existing entrepreneurs in the El Yunque region who wish to start or strengthen their businesses in one of our available specialties,” Skerrett Escalera said. “With these programs we want to develop a solid and supportive economy in the eastern region of Puerto Rico. Space to participate in our training programs is limited, so we encourage you to apply now.”

She said the La Y en el Yunque and El Yunque Emprende Accelerator programs are free of charge, as they are funded by federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds from the Department of Housing through the Workforce Training Program and the Small Business Incubator and Accelerator Program (SBIA), respectively. They are also conducted in agreement with the U.S. Forest Service, the agency that manages El Yunque National Forest, and the YMCA of San Juan.

The third edition of the four-month labor and business training program, La Y en el Yunque, will begin on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023 and will conclude on Friday, June 23, 2023. Upon completion of the training program, participants will have certifications in their chosen specialty area and other topics. For example, some of the certificates by thematic area are: agroecology (sustainable beekeeping), renewable energy (solar and photovoltaic energy via the Aguadilla Campus of the University of Puerto Rico), outdoor recreation (interpreter guides through the National Association for Interpretation-NAI) and in recreation and sports (recreational leader from the island Department of Recreation and Sports).

In addition, participants will receive a certification in first aid (CPR and defibrillator).

Primary tools to be developed in the program developing a business action plan and composing a professional resumé.

The requirements for being part of the program are: be over 18 years old, reside in one of the 10 municipalities that make up the eastern region of Puerto Rico (Canóvanas, Naguabo, Humacao, Ceiba, Las Piedras, Juncos, Fajardo, Luquillo, Loíza and Río Grande), and be unemployed or working part-time.

The training will be offered mainly in person at the Vitrina Solidaria building in the Palmer sector, PR-948, km 0.1 in Río Grande.

The deadline to apply for the program is Friday, Jan. 27, 2023.

The second edition of the business training program of the El Yunque Emprende Accelerator will begin on Tuesday, March 7, 2023, mostly in person at the El Portal visitor center of El Yunque National Forest. The cycle will specialize in topics related to gastronomy, local production (preparation and/or sale of products that are emblematic of Puerto Rican culture), circular economy (development of products or services using existing resources with priority given to the reduction of waste and non-durable materials), and sustainable tourism.

The El Yunque Emprende Accelerator is an acceleration program for local microenterprises focused on education for the strengthening of companies and/or businesses under a philosophy of a solidarity economy with a focus on the El Yunque region, which includes educational components, mentoring and practical hours for entrepreneurs with already established businesses.

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