Developing Economic Opportunity in Honduras
Each time I visit, or am fortunate enough to speak with a Honduran here in the States or elsewhere, I am reminded of what an amazingly beautiful country Honduras is, and how wonderful the Honduran people are. Despite all of the difficulties, corruption, gang violence and poverty the country is beautiful. I don’t just mean filled with natural beauty (which it has in droves); I mean the people, the culture, and a continuing desire to find ways to make Honduras a better and more just place for the people, for the environment, and for those of us fortunate enough to visit.
Honduran People and Government
The Honduran people are working hard to eradicate the corruption that permeates every aspect of their government, from the police to the rest of the justice system, from the health care system to the education system. They are working hard to reduce violence and the influence of gangs and drug traffickers. The hard work is paying off and significant progress is being made. These foundational steps open the way for more transformative actions that are being undertaken simultaneously and provide opportunity for business to flourish.
Honduran Geography and Resources
A region in central Honduras in the vicinity of Lago de Yojoa is a prime example. The area is easily reachable by flying to San Pedro Sula, and driving approximately an hour to an hour and a half south. The area is truly a prime location for ecotourism and already has some great offerings. The environment is extremely sensitive at this time due to significant exploitation of the region’s natural resources both out of necessity and by virtue of a lack of enforcement of environmental standards. By way of example, the lake is being drained at too quick a pace for the production of hydroelectric power, due to the misuse or misunderstanding of expected and historical rainfall. Substantial fish farms exist on the lake and have introduced non-native species to the lake, as well as increased the level of nitrates, contributing to the rapid growth of non-native plant life from the bottom of the lake. Also contributing to the significant growth of underwater plant life is the use of fertilizers in farming on the mountains surrounding the lake, coupled with the deforestation that has gone on. Contamination in the streams in the mountains has not only affected the drinking water, but also moves into the lake putting the natural resource at risk.
Natural Solutions for Ecotourism
While these problems are real, the people of the region are coming together to solve these issues. A small group is working hard with villages and farmers near the top of the area’s largest mountain to build a sustainable community that will house a portion of a larger ecotourism attraction. Organizations are bringing together avid bird watchers from all over the globe to enjoy the nearly 600 species of birds that call the area home for at least part of the year. Providing clear, clean water from the high mountain springs is a top priority, and strong people who are proud of their region’s beauty are assisting coffee farmers in implementing sustainable farming techniques which permit the reforestation of the mountainside, which has the added benefit of rebuilding nature’s filtration system.
Local mayors are working hard to obtain funding for infrastructure programs, job training programs and to build opportunity for the youth to make membership in a gang far less attractive. Providing opportunity to make money through legitimate hard work, and opening doors for people to build small businesses that can flourish and employ others is a top priority.
Environmentally Conscientious Development
Getting to know many of the people in the region over the last year has inspired and humbled me. The area is ideal for ecotourism, and sets up nicely for a small, environmentally conscientious resort. There is already a top notch brewery and lodge, multiple tourist opportunities, some of the best coffee in the world, and there are both local archeological ruins and the ruins in Copan make a good day trip. The region has vast bio-diversity, which is the result of being home to two distinct cloud forests, and mountains of volcanic origin and granite mountains, which support very different vegetation and animal species. Also, due to the massive elevation changes, a wide array of species are supported.
The people are hard-working, honest and full of hope. Working with some of the community leaders to bring opportunity to their region is both a privilege and a pleasure. Over time, and with the strong anti-corruption work that is being done by phenomenally brave Hondurans, the region could easily become a top flight tourist destination, drawing people from all over the world. There are many opportunities to import coffee, produce and poultry products from the region. The area also provides easy access to San Pedro Sula and Puerto Cortez with direct Atlantic Ocean access, and has the wonderful people who want honest employment at fair wages, which makes it a prime location for U.S. or European companies to locate Central American production facilities. It is our hope at Oppenhuizen to help make this happen. Please feel free to contact us to discuss why Honduras might be a good fit for your business.