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Across Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, women who seek to escape poverty by launching small businesses often find that success brings more suffering -- and not just for them, but also for their children.Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE), a United States-based initiative to reduce legal, economic and policy barriers to female entrepreneurship in poor countries, recently held 27 focus groups across Honduras and El Salvador.Women in Central America face added threats from gang violence and organized criminal activity.Small entrepreneurship remains one of the few available paths out of poverty in Central America, especially for women, who face unemployment rates that are 50 percent higher than those of men, owing partly to cultural norms that impede working outside the home.That is why initiatives that seek to promote economic growth in Central America -- or anywhere, for that matter -- must address head-on the needs of women entrepreneurs.At the center of any strategy for improving conditions for women entrepreneurs in Central America should be local microfinance institutions.Global consumers also have a role to play in improving the economic prospects of women in Central America.
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