AAPN’s Mike Todaro chats with Jesus Canahauti, general manager, Honduras-based Elcatex

Honduras: Textile Focused

By Mike Todaro

The Atlanta-based Americas Apparel Producers’ Network (AAPN) is hosting the Apparel Summit of the Americas in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, November 27-29, 2018. This supply chain event will include a program of speakers and plenty of networking opportunities as well as tours of brand new state-of-the-art mills built to address the need for agile manufacturing.

Honduras has a country development program, known as Honduras 2020. This private sector initiative is complemented by the public sector and was developed to grow the country both socially and economically. Honduras 2020 focuses on six strategic areas of the economy, one of which is textiles and apparel. One of the goals for the textile sector is to increase annual exports to $7.4 billion and add 200,000 jobs to the country’s existing 150,000 jobs by the year 2020. Another goal is to surpass Indonesia and Mexico to become the United States’ fifth most important apparel provider.

Honduran textile companies are ramping up synthetics output in Honduras. One such company is Elcatex, a company dedicated to producing knit fabrics, cut parts and full-package programs. Founded in 1984, the 500,000-square-foot mill has a capacity of 2 million pounds per week. In addition to its textile manufacturing investments, Elcatex operates Latin America’s largest above-ground photovoltaic generator that has a capacity of 7.5 megawatts, and also uses other forms of renewable energy including biomass.

Ahead of the Apparel Summit of the Americas in Honduras, AAPN’s Mike Todaro chatted with Jesus Canahauti, general manager, Elcatex, about his company and the Honduras 2020 initiative.

Mike TodaroWhy are you working in this industry?

Jesus Canahauti: I was born into this industry. In 1959, my father, Juan Canahauti, and his wife traveled to the United States where they met the brand Lovable. That same year, he obtained the line’s distribution rights in Honduras.

In 1965, he took the first step from distribution to actual production in what would become his own factory, Lovable of Honduras. Seeing the need for raw material within the country, in 1984 he created the company Elásticos Centroamericanos y Textiles, or ELCATEX.

I was born, raised and went to high school here in Honduras. I was fortunate to be accepted into the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta where I earned my engineering degree in 1987. When I returned to Honduras, my father encouraged me to build a small textile company within Elcatex in order to supply the fabric needed in his sewing facilities.

TodaroCan you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?

Canahauti: My father, of course. On a trip to Asia, he saw the need to make the industrial parks come true in Honduras.

In 1989, with the law of Industrial Processing Zones, he created the first industrial park in the country, Zip Choloma S.A. In 1990, he signed the contract and proceeded to build the fourth building of Zip Choloma, where the brand HBI remains to date. In 1992, ELCATEX moved to Choloma, where it currently produces 1.6 million pounds of fabric a week.

TodaroHow did you build your knowledge of the U.S. market?

Canahauti: Our customer base today includes highly recognized companies such as JC Penney, SanMar, Nordstrom, Dickies and HBI. We manufacture a range of products including basic T-shirts, underwear programs, fleece sweatshirts with hoods and zippers, and polo pique shirts for men, women and children. Honduras has grown into an epicenter of high-volume production of blanks and underwear for the giants of that market in the US. They arrived with a full package business model and we have learned from working beside them and supplying them for decades.

Today, Honduras has very impressive trade numbers:

  • Honduras apparel exports to the United States are up 13 percent in Jan 2018 over the last year, same period;
  • U.S. yarn exports to Honduras up 2 percent for 2017 over 2016;
  • Demand is way up, investor traffic robust; and
  • Sourcing volumes are increasing.

TodaroHow do you compete as a supply chain? What links of the chain are you involved in, or are collocated in-country?

Canahauti: We are able to produce full package programs today for polo shirts, t-shirts, briefs and boxers. We perform the knitting dyeing, finishing, printing, cutting, sewing, packaging and logistic entirely within our enterprise.

Just within Elcatex, we maintain 99 sewing lines producing 78,000 dozen garments per week. The input fabric comes from the 500 knitting machines we operate, producing 2 million pounds a week. Dyeing is done in our 43 dyeing machines.

Another example is Stretchline. We invested in this Sri Lanka-based company, which is the world’s largest and only branded narrow fabric manufacturer. This 150-year-old company supports major fashion brands in eight countries on three continents. This gives Honduras true global brand power.

TodaroWhat on-going investments are being made in your supply chain?

Canahauti: There are two answers to that question. First let me answer on behalf of our country. Our Honduras 2020 project seeks to generate 600,000 jobs and sharply boost exports by expanding and adding value to the key textiles, manufacturing, tourism, and business services sectors. The development plan was partly drafted by global consultant McKinsey. It is a country development program, which emerges as a transformational initiative from the private sector, being complemented and strengthened by the public sector in order to foster the socio-economic growth of our country.

The plan is completely comprehensive — public and private sector funding programs in education; housing; infrastructure; energy; construction; port expansion; everything. There is no national plan like it in this entire hemisphere.

Within the Elcatex enterprise, we are building a new $73 million synthetic yarn production plant we have named United Textiles of America (Unitexa) Co. Several of the largest textile groups in the region have joined forces to create this new synthetic yarn production plant that will add a capacity of more than 25,000 tons per year.

When opened, the $73 million United Textiles of America (Unitexa) man-made yarn plant will have a capacity of more than 25,000 tons per year.

This will be the first production plant of its size and nature in Central America opening Honduras’ doors to a new textile segment, attracting more specialized manufacturing industries, especially in activewear. The draw texturized yarn will then be used for the production of synthetic garments, sportswear, clothing resistant to stain, among others.

Because of the need for a greater specialization in the production of synthetic yarn, Unitexa will continuously seek to develop the personnel it employs, generating a total of 250 direct jobs and approximately 300 indirect jobs.

TodaroIn addition to your proximity to the United States, what are the other factors in your speed to market, such as front-end pre-production infrastructure through to production, logistics and transit times?

Canahauti: Many buyers are consolidating their accounts because of the recession. Our customers want to place their orders with fewer contractors to reduce manufacturing costs and still get good prices, fast delivery and great quality. This presents an interesting opportunity that Honduran textile companies can exploit because of other advantages the country offers.

Honduras’ advantages are apparent when we compete with Pakistan and other Asian countries. In addition to proximity to the U.S. market, which reduces the time and cost of product delivery, Honduras offers competitive wages and just-in-time delivery, an inventory strategy technique much in demand these days. Orders placed for goods produced in Honduras take 12 weeks to reach U.S. stores, compared with four months for orders placed with companies in China and Pakistan. Honduran textile products account for almost 6 percent of the market share in the United States currently.

These advantages include:

  • Vertical integration;
  • Free trade agreements with the United States, Canada, European Union and the Central American region; and
  • Strategic location — only three days away from the most important ports in the southeast coast of the United States.

Todaro: How do you compete on costs?

Canahauti: We compete on costs by owning the costs. We’ve made significant investments in yarn spinning, textile facilities, apparel sewing plants, Industrial Free Zones, a biomass steam facility, hydroelectric facility, and thermal cogeneration plant.

Several years ago, we got a program out of the blue. A brand member of the AAPN contacted the organization for help bringing a high needle program back from Asia. We got that business.

After three months of production, AAPN asked the brand member how it was going. Their answer was that sourcing from Honduras was easier, better, faster and even cheaper because there was less product in the pipeline.

Todaro: How easy is it to do business with your company?

Canahauti: Elcatex started operations in 1984 with the objective of becoming an integrated textile center that would offer products of high quality to both national and international markets. Every step we made from the start was to get it right from the start. We invested, we studied, we partnered, we innovated and above all else we asked questions.

We’re in the same time zone as our U.S. customers, we speak English and we were educated in the United States. Our values, cultures, management beliefs and leadership values are the same as those held in the United States. Since Honduras is one of the most bi-lingual nations in this hemisphere, we understand our suppliers, our customers and our industry.

Todaro: Give examples of leadership in social compliance and sustainability?

Canahauti: We are WRAP certified and also certified by Hohenstein as a company that fulfills the specific requirements for product class II of Oeko-Tex Standard 100.

We have from the start been innovative, which is why we are a pioneer in the region for energy generation thru renewable process, like the biomass and water recycling process better known as Dyeclean, an innovative process that helps to reduce water consumption by up to 80 percent and chemical consumption by up to 50 percent.

We were able to reduce 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year with the Biomass Steam Generation facility, which produces 30 tons of steam per hour. We have also been a key player on three hydroelectric projects with a capacity of 8 megawatts with a future expansion to 26 megawatts. Today, I am the CEO of two new companies — Honduran Green Power Corporation and Sula Valley Biogas — built to generate 43 megawatts of energy with biomass and 5 megawatts with biogas.

On the social front, we contribute to the social housing program of the Honduran government, with the project of building 2,000 houses, and plans to expand in the future. In fact, as you drive past our biomass energy plant on a new paved two-lane road, you quickly arrive at a development of 1,500 new houses. These are bought by our workers under very favorable terms.

My parents instilled in me a strong belief in social responsibility and community work. I have served on the Board of Directors of the Saint Vincent’s Foundation for more than 23 years. This foundation manages various centers that protect the livelihood of orphans, youth, seniors, terminally ill patients and recovering alcoholics. Furthermore, the foundation provides education and physical health services to low income families through a school and a clinic.

TodaroWhere does Honduras stand in risk assessment?

Canahauti: Honduras is no different than the United States or any other country caught in the emotions of populism. Still, Honduras follows its rule of law. For example, during the presidential crisis on September 2009, when a former president attempted to take over his former office, the entire country — including the legislature, courts, government and even his own party — followed our laws.

The best way to stop migration and deter crime is work. Nothing stops a bullet like a job and Honduras 2020’s goal is to create 600,000 jobs, 200,000 of them in our textile/ apparel sector. Clearly, we are well on our way.

TodaroWhen it’s all over, how do you want to be remembered?

Canahauti: My driving force is my family, having the complete support of my wife and our five lovely children. Professionally, I want to be known as a visionary who saw an opportunity and raised a commitment to be the best in this hemisphere.

I want to be known as someone who helped give a broad range of options to our customers, outperforming the competition in quality, technology, production and export of the same, and with better working conditions and quality of life for our staff.

In fact, every goal of Honduras 2020 is a goal of mine and our company.

Editor’s Note: Mike Todaro is the managing director of the Atlanta-based Americas Apparel Producers’ Network (AAPN). AAPN is a private sector, non-profit, members-only apparel industry business network of more than 600 company owners and senior executives from 200 companies across the apparel supply chain.

July/August 2018

Mexican entrepreneurs are looking for investment opportunities in Honduras.

Tegucigalpa, May 2018. A Mexican business mission from the State of Jalisco visited Honduras in search of investment opportunities and commercial exchange within the framework of the Honduras 20/20 program. The purpose of the business meeting was to strengthen commercial ties and increase business opportunities between both countries.

The business mission of entrepreneurs of the state of Jalisco was integrated by Mexican investors representing financial sectors, pharmaceuticals, agrifood industry, vehicle assemblers, among others.
These businessmen were received by public sector officials and representatives of the private sector, which was headed by Honduras 20/20, visiting several companies during their visit in order to present the country’s business opportunities

“The business mission has had very satisfactory preliminary results with an excellent reception, we carried out the international promotion to attract investment to Honduras, as we promote investment there will be job creation.” Expressed Peter Fleming, executive director of Honduras 20/20.

The Honduran delegates presented in depth to Jalisco entrepreneurs the legal framework to invest in Honduras, the Free Trade Agreement between Central America and Mexico, the macroeconomic situation of the country, special and fiscal regimes, as well as the progress in security matters, show the dynamic economy of the country.

“In this effort to diversify markets, Central America is a great opportunity for us in particular Honduras because of its geographical position, its port that is very important, the port of Puerto Cortés, to sell not only in Honduras but to establish a commercial relationship with the rest of Central America based in the country. ” Mentioned Miguel Landeros, president of COMCE (Mexican Business Council of Foreign Trade).

The Mexican delegation participated in a business conference, with the idea of establishing direct links with their Honduran counterparts. The business agenda of Jalisco continued in Roatán, where the advantages of the tourism sector were detailed.

Honduras launches new attractive Tourism Promotion Law to foster investment

Tegucigalpa, MDC, August 17, 2017 – As an outcome of the Honduras2020 program, several public and private sector institutions accompanied President Juan Orlando Hernández in the approval act of the new Tourism Promotion Law, submitted by the National Congress with attractive benefits to detonate investment and employment in the tourism sector of Honduras.

Honduras set itself, the task of innovating country incentives to the investor, thus achieving the goal of 250,000 jobs in that sector, an additional 1 million tourists annually and double the amount of tourism exports for the national economy, proposed in the Honduras2020 Program.

The country lacked the right conditions to attract investment in the sector. Despite being one of the Central American countries with the most varied tourism offer with an enormous wealth of natural resources, its level of growth in this sector is barely 0.5% comparing to the rest of the region whose average annual growth reaches levels up to of 7%.

Several institutions joined forces to materialize the new legal framework for the promotion of tourism, including the private public partnership Honduras2020, the Honduran Tourism Institute (IHT), the Honduras National Tourism Chamber (Canaturh), the Honduran Business Council (Cohep) and the Honduran Business Association of Small Hotels, among other institutions and businessmen from all over the nation, who presented to the Congress the law.

This law, which was approved by President Juan Orlando Hernández, includes a package of attractive incentives for local and international investment and at the same time ensures a profitable fiscal benefits over time. It also becomes an important instrument to generate new sustainable jobs through the investment expected over the next few years.

Part of the characteristics of the Tourism Law are:

  • Equal treatment to motivate small, medium and large Honduran and foreign entrepreneurs to invest in the tourism sector of Honduras.
  • A new legal framework for existing companies that make additional new investments for more than 35% of their initial investment.
  • Fiscal stability agreements
  • Incentives for the investment of natural or legal persons
  • Fund to support land and air transportation companies in tourism.
  • Possibility of setting up investment trust funds
  • Special provisions on municipal permits and taxes
  • Fund for Investment, Promotion and Promotion to Tourism (FITUR) with concessional conditions
  • Investor obligations

It is important to mention that the tourism promotion law guarantees a substantial return to the incentives provided, which is achieved – among others – by:

  • Sales tax collection for lodging, purchase of food and alcoholic beverages, recreation and others
  • Income tax / Sales tax collection paid from the hotel suppliers
  • Sales tax collection increase for consumption of workers generated from new jobs
  • Tourism Service Fee collection

Estimates suggest that additional tax revenues of approximately US $ 4 billion over the next 18 years could be achieved using a 60% hotel occupancy model.

This law is part of a larger strategy that will make the tourism sector a pillar of real growth to improve the quality of life of thousands of Hondurans. Which includes customer service training programs for the workforce and the necessary hotel, entertainment and urban infrastructure to compete as a world class tourist destination.

In addition, functionaries from Honduras2020 announced that there are already national and international investors are interested in investing in Honduras from the opportunities that this new Tourism Promotion Law will create, which will announce new investments and new sources of employment in the coming months.

More information:

  • Honduran Tourism Institute (IHT)
  • Honduras National Tourism Chamber (CANATURH)
Fotografìa Cortesía de David Waimin

VENTU: a new mixed infrastructure project in southern Tegucigalpa

Tegucigalpa, March 2nd, 2018. The Honduras 20/20 program, achieved a new investment for the country with an amount of $12.7 million through Vizion Development and Grupo Jamar initiative, corporations which have launched a groundbreaking infrastructure project called VENTU.

VENTU is a new type of project with a construction area of approximately 26,900 m2, with different spaces, such as an office service center with a modern and ideal work environment for work well-being, a commercial center, gastronomic and recreational activities, green area designed for visitors and Honduran family and a parking lot with 4 levels. The tower for the office area will be built in the capital city suited for companies in the BPO / ITO sector, such as call centers, software development companies, outsourced business services under the optimal conditions for this type of industry and the highest technology.

Orlando Avilés, Vizion Development’s general manager, stated that “VENTU is a complex which will facilitate comfortable and safe access to tenants and visitors, while providing the neighboring community with new leisure areas”.

During the building phase, 400 direct jobs will be created and according to project managers, 2100 indirect jobs will be generated as well. The private sector with this new investments, through the Honduras 20/20 program, will be contributing to the well-being of the citizens of Tegucigalpa and speeding up the development of the country.

“Honduras 20/20 constantly pursues this type of investment due to the fact that it boosts job creation. VENTU will stimulates BPO/ITO expansion, because it responds to the needs of Honduran and foreign capital investors in terms of technology, and optimal work conditions for outsourced entrepreneurial services. The innovation we achieve in these type of projects raises Honduras’ competitiveness, and positions us in the field of vision for world leaders in this area. Another benefit of VENTU is that it contributes to the economic reactivation and improves the urban landscape of the capital’s southern area”, added Peter Fleming, Honduras 20/20 director.

Honduras in the BPO/ITO sector has increased up to 6% annually. The country in terms of infrastructure, has the specific requirements for the growth of the sector. Furthermore, over 10,000 bilingual Honduran youngsters graduate every year.

“VENTU will be the first project for mixed use in southern Tegucigalpa, providing an outstanding space for commerce, business, lifestyle, and leisure for the rapidly growing surrounding community”, stated José Maymir Jarquín, Grupo Jamars’ Administrative Manager.

VENTU, projected to be finished by 2019, came to enhance all the country’s competitive advantages for foreign companies that seek to invest in Honduras.

Honduras 20/20 has already created 50,000 jobs out of 600,000 estimated

Tegucigalpa – Secretary of Labor, Carlos Madero, announced that Honduras 2020 has already created 50,000 jobs out of 600,000 estimated.

– January has left us with 5, 500 jobs, said Madero.

– The estimated job creation of the employment iniciative “Fuerza de Tarea” will not be the same as those created by Honduras 2020.

Honduras 2020 main objective is to achieve the creation of 600,000 new jobs in a five year term. Just in the year 2017, the program created  more than 50,000 new jobs, having this year already created a significant number.

¿What is your opinión regarding “Fuerza de Tarea’s” mission to create 20,000 new jobs during the first months

He stated that last week 2,300 jobs were offered in a job fair held at San Pedro Sula thanks to Honduras 2020. As well as today in Choluteca, were 500 jobs are being offered.

“Honduras 2020 program’s first years were dedicated on creating an efficient attraction strategy. As of today, this strategy is already put into action. The next steps are portraying confidence so that companies can invest and achieving investment deals.”

Our roadmap clearly defines which jobs are created by Honduras2020 and which are not, establishing the program’s and the private sector’s objectives still in the need to be met.

Task Force – Fuerza de Tarea

“Fuerza de Tarea” Program was launched this week by President Juan Orlando Hernández at Centro Cívico Gubernamental stating that the Program’s initial objective is achieving L 3,400 million investment and the creation of 20,000 new jobs in agribusiness, tourism and housing sectors, as well as financial aid.

Madero stated that this Friday “Fuerza de Tareas’” roadmap will be officially handed to President Hernández, declaring that quick pace actions for job generations will be taking place, some by the private sector and others by the government.

Concerning the Organic Budget Law, Madero confirmed that unfaithful information in the media regarding labor right payments is completely untrue. Benefits have always been guaranteed and every Ministry Office pays them with their own budget.

Source: Proceso.hn
Translation: H2020 Team.


HONDURAS20/20: Latest trends in retail market and branded wholesale in U.S. to explore for HONDURAS Textil Apparel Sector

Co-Creation adds value to your organization and elevates the relevance of your company in the retailers’ or brands’ matrix of A, B, and C suppliers.

Retailers and brands are pivoting to outsource to their A suppliers design, trend development in finished garments. Instead of wholly relying on internal design teams to drive seasonal product development, retailers and brands are leveraging their supply chain to hire designers and creative directors to drive trend and product development for them season to season and in some cases “season less” when a trend or fashion item is hot. Remember that “season less” design, product development is now possible because of ease in adding new styles to their web sites vs the old model of loading brick and mortar locations seasonally. E-comm makes launching new trend product product at any time in the development calendar.

Co-creating makes your company more relevant in the E-comm space.

In response to this latest trend at retail and brands, many of these A garment suppliers (i.e. Koreans, Taiwanese) are hiring design teams and housing them in offices close to retail and brand headquarters in USA so their design and concept teams can interact directly with merchants and sourcing teams regularly.  The AHM membership should know that this trend to outsource design, product development to suppliers is growing. For the textile or garment supplier that meets the challenge, this business model creates a dependency for the retailer to have to book the order with the supplier that brought the design development to the table because then there is no time to replace the development with another supplier.  The future for A suppliers is to add value by owning the fashion, trend development for their retail and brand customers to final commercialization.

How do you achieve success in driving Co-Creation proactively to differentiate from your competition?

  • Own the value chain from concept to commercialization. Don’t wait for your customer to provide the trend, bring trend to your customer with quarterly appointments.
  • Create a company culture that emphasizes newness, trend & innovation to disrupt your market competition.
  • Allocate company resources to hire a design and creative team to drive trend in seasonal color, materials and silhouette
  • Attend fabric and supplier fairs that are hosted by your retail and brand customer to work closely with the retailer and / or brand to understand the brand story and design into the brand story custom
  • Think “season-less” in newness with quick reaction times with a narrow fabric palette for speed to market
  • Attend global trade shows like Premier Vision and Outdoor Retailer Show annually or bi-annually for inspiration in driving trend, newness
  • Lean on your supply chain for research & development (i.e. chemical, dyestuffs, yarn, equipment suppliers)
  • Be focused and knowledgeable in your selected category researching aspirational brands for trend guidance
  • Create a dependency between your customer and your creative teams to increase market share and reduce internal work load of your customer whose resources are tight due to internal margin pressure
  • Carry and show trend line of fabrics, garments to your customer appointments
  • Understand your customers’ development calendar – timing is everything. The internal retail and brand seasonal development calendar drives the sample development timelines and merchant buy due dates. Ask for appointments to show the trend line at critical moments in the calendar by season.
  • Align with the design team’s aesthetic to deliver trend appropriate sample development.
  • Co-Creation = Higher Market Relevance = Dependency = Higher Margins

For further details on this topic, Mr. Joe Cuervo, Textile and Apparel Manager for the Honduras 2020 Program can be reached at the following email address: jcuervo@honduras2020.com

Honduras 2020 organizes 1st International BPO Summit

A recent Nearshore Americas trade mission to Honduras has prompted media groups in the country to focus more closely on the local BPO and tech industries, with a daily newspaper estimating an increase of up to 8,000 BPO jobs in 2018.

Foreign BPO firms are trying to capitalize on the easy availability of bilingual speakers in the country, declared Spanish paper La Prensa in a lengthy article containing comments from Honduran officials, such as Peter Fleming, executive director of Honduras 20/20.

“I think the possibilities are pretty big; we already have them here, now we have to convince them,” said Fleming, who also stated that some BPO firms in Costa Rica and Belize were thinking of shifting operations to Honduras.

The two-day investors’ meet, which took place on November 29 and 30, “ended with great expectations for next year,” the paper said, adding that the investor groups assessed the BPO infrastructure in San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa.

Citing officials, La Prensa also estimates that Honduras services industry will end the year with US$80 million in revenue.

“The conditions for investment are quite attractive,” said Kirk Laughlin, Managing Director at Nearshore Americas. “Not only do I advise [investors] to establish call centers in Honduras, I would also tell them that they can provide other services from the country as well.”

The trade mission was also covered on Honduran television, with one news outlet interviewing many government officials and members of the trade mission, including Laughlin.

Source: http://www.nearshoreamericas.com/trade-mission-honduras-headlines/

Commercial Mission of Honduras 2020 in Mexico

Tegucigalpa – The Honduras 2020 Transformation Unit introduced Mexican companies interested in investment and operation expansion in Central America, the country´s competitive advantages.

Peter Fleming, CEO of this public-private organization, along with a group of its executives and Ambassador Alden Rivera, made successful business confereences in the cities of Monterrey, Guadalajara and Mexico City.

The one-on-one meetings respond to previous visit follow-ups with companies focused on intermediate manufacturing, technology, call centers, agroindustry and tourism, all with Mexican capital and with great willingness to invest in the region for strategic reasons such as: geographic location, commercial relationships, low cost and skilled labor force.

Honduras is currently at an extraordinary moment to be able to carry out this promotion exercise. The country´s macroeconomic situation is going through its best moment in the last 20 years, as well as the implementation of new programs and investment promotion laws with the most modern legal framework in Latin America. Mexican government authorities, foreign relations, PROMEXICO, Mexican Council of Foreign Trade, companies and media, learned about all the initiatives that have been taking place in Honduras, which motivated them to make the decision to visit Honduras with concrete proposals for investment and employment generation, having received to date, the first visit of these Mexican companies.

Honduras 20/20 es un ejemplo a nivel mundial

Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

¿En qué consiste el Programa Honduras 20/20?
Es una estrategia de país que fue establecida a través de la contratación de una compañía consultora internacional llamada McKinsey, que tienen oficinas en 60 países. La intención del sector privado era establecer un rumbo hacia donde llevar la economía del país y generar un crecimiento económico. Inicialmente fue generado por el sector privado y luego presentó los primeros puntos al presidente de la República, conscientes que ningún plan podría tener éxito si el lado gubernamental no está de acuerdo. Mucha de la estructura y la simplificación administrativa sale del Gobierno. De alguna forma u otra tenía que convertirse en un proyecto para ambos.

¿Cuáles fueron los retos que tenían que solventar en ese momento?
La estrategia debe basarse en ventajas competitivas, y es interesante saber que en el Triángulo Norte de Centroamérica hemos manejado un discurso o un nivel de noticia en el que Guatemala, El Salvador y Honduras siempre estamos en conflicto y no un país del que se puede generar inversiones. Siempre han sido el sur de Centroamérica, Costa Rica y Panamá, los que han atraído inversiones. Con esto buscamos establecer un plan de nación y dirigirlo en una forma que fuese alcanzable, medible y principalmente para nosotros que tuviera ese componente donde la empresa privada y el sector gobierno pudieran sentarse y resolver los problemas del país. Especialmente, generar crecimiento económico y dinamizarla para atraer inversiones que se traducen nuevos empleos. Ese es el esquema adonde nace el 20/20.

Fotos: Andro Rodríguez
Peter Fleming recibió a LA PRENSA en la oficina del 20/20, ubicada en el Centro Morazán de Tegucigalpa.

¿Qué condiciones son necesarias para que exista una iniciativa de este tipo?
Para esto debe de haber una macroeconomía sólida y sana, tiene que existir una percepción de seguridad ciudadana, estabilidad fiscal y una estrategia. Ya Honduras está alcanzando respaldo de las calificadoras de riesgo país que son niveles únicos e históricos. Tenemos una macroeconomía sana, con un crecimiento del producto interno bruto (PIB) que alcanza el 4%, y algunos especialistas son muy positivos y dicen que podemos superarlo.

¿Cuál es el objetivo del Honduras 20/20?
Es romper los paradigmas que han existido de que en este país no se puede atraer inversión, y creo que ese el reto más importante que a mí me ha dado el presidente: a través de esta Unidad de Transformación, entre los dos sectores, más los seis ejes priorizados, buscar empresas que quieran invertir en Honduras.

¿Cuáles oportunidades de inversión han identificado hasta ahora?
Las oportunidades son miles. Por ejemplo, en BPO (subcontratación de funciones) porque tenemos una de las tasas más altas de bilingüismo en Latinoamérica, entonces, los call centers nos vienen a buscar. Oportunidades en agronegocios, vivienda social en busca de reducir el déficit de vivienda, el sector de manufactura textil y de intermedia. Vamos a generar un montón de ruedas de negocios para seguir generando oportunidades. Aunque también hay ciertas variables transversales que deben estar listas para que esto también funcione. Esto no es una receta mágica.

La dinámica de la economía mundial es muy ágil y cambia de un día para otro, por eso debemos de enfocarnos en identificarlas.

¿Qué resultados han obtenido con las giras?
Tomé posesión el primero de septiembre y empezamos un plan de trabajo del trimestre. El primer trabajo que debemos hacer es aquí adentro. Entre octubre y noviembre tenemos planificadas giras por diferentes cámaras de comercio nacionales. Tenemos que hacer ver a los empresarios las oportunidades de inversión acá para luego ir a traer a alguien. Adicional, hemos tenido un enorme apoyo por parte de la Cancillería, a través de los embajadores de los diferentes países que están haciendo una labor como gestores de negocios.

¿Qué percepción hay del Honduras 20/20 a nivel internacional?
El programa es un ejemplo a nivel mundial de cómo un pequeño país de Centroamérica en el que dos sectores están tomando decisiones para ser más eficientes. Esa es una plataforma que muchos países de Centroamérica quisieran tener.

¿Piensan blindar la estrategia de Honduras ante posibles copias de los países vecinos?
No podemos hacerlo, será muy difícil, pero como bien dijo Hugo Barquerizo, crear estas estrategias va más allá. McKinsey señaló que el 57% de las iniciativas de transformación económicas no son exitosas, porque solo lo hace un sector. La clave es la implementación, la seriedad de un plan de trabajo con objetivos claros.

¿Quién evaluará los resultados del 20/20?
Las evaluaciones son trimestrales y las mediciones las hace el consejo directivo que forman empresarios y Gobierno. Obviamente, ahora me evaluarán a mí para que ver si hay retornos y resultados.

¿Qué lecciones les dejó el Honduras is Open for Business de 2011?
Fue un éxito, pero no se le dio seguimiento. No había alguien detrás diciendo ‘tenemos todas estas oportunidades’ y delegarlas a un equipo de trabajo para cerrar las negociaciones. Yo estuve ahí y fue monumental, trajeron a Carlos Slim y lo sentaron para hacer inversiones con empresarios de primer nivel, pero no hubo seguimiento. Fue una gestión del sector Gobierno a medias con la empresa privada, pero sin seguimiento que provocó que su estructura no funcionara. El seguimiento puede faltar por muchas cosas, pero los temas más importantes es tener enfoques sobre las empresas con las queremos conversar para negociar.

Se ha dicho mucho que las metas serán cumplidas para 20/20, ¿es posible?
Quiero ser muy claro, esto no es política. Esto es que un hondureño toma las riendas que pese a ser la máxima autoridad del país también tiene una visión a largo plazo. Por eso 20/20 tiene una pleca, para representar la visión de desarrollo de país. No es el año 2020, porque si no ya fuéramos tarde. Hay que hacerle entender a la gente que no para el 2020 vamos a tener 600,000 empleos nuevos. Eso es irreal y trabajo con realidades, objetivos y resultados. El 20/20 es una visión perfecta hacia el desarrollo que va muy enfocada. Los resultados se van a ir viendo y serán más visibles bajando los niveles de percepción de mala imagen a nivel internacional.

¿Cuáles son los resultados tangibles de este programa a la fecha?
Tenemos 49,000 empleos registrados a la fecha y cerca de 950 millones de dólares en exportaciones adicionales, alrededor de 280 millones de dólares en el crecimiento de la inversión extranjera directa. Tenemos un nuevo código tributario, la ley de incentivos al turismo y la pronta publicación del reglamento. También la ley de zonas libres y otras que debemos revisar para que estén acorde a los tiempos y ver el marco competitivo que tenemos a nivel de la región.

¿En qué año veremos un verdadero despegue del Honduras 20/20?
Sabemos que 2018 y 2019 serán años cruciales para el programa, pero debemos arrancar ya. Ya estamos con un plan de trabajo y definidas algunas ruedas de negocio. Primero debemos sentarnos para ver las oportunidades de corto y mediano plazo que impacten ahora. Tenemos cosas muy fuertes, como mejorar la conectividad del país, si por ejemplo al inversionista le cuesta $2,000 (47,000 lempiras) viajar a Honduras desde Miami. Hay muchas cosas que hacer, pero lo más importante es rodearnos de personas capacitadas para darles oportunidades.

¿Cómo se sostiene esta Unidad de Transformación Honduras 20/20?
Somos una oficina totalmente privada. Todos los empleados tienen contrato de empresa privada, pero sí recibimos aportaciones de parte de los dos sectores.


Fuente: http://www.laprensa.hn/economia/1117205-410/honduras_2020-ejemplo-nivel-mundial-programa-empleo

United States has qualified us as “The Honduran miracle”

Honduran business leader, Luis Napoleón Larach, is in Washington DC for a joint visit with other leaders of the business leaders of Central America to explain the situation of their countries, about the relationship and objectives for the region drawn by United States.

Larach is the president of the Honduran Council of Private Enterprise (COHEP) and in an interview with “El Diario de Hoy” he highlights the advances of the neighboring country in different areas to seek the development demanded by the Honduran people.

He notes the constructive and fruitful dialogue between the private sector and the government of President Juan Orlando Hernández as positive and how mutual contributions have served to reverse the negative indicators that a few years ago placed Honduras on the most critical stages of insecurity and lack of opportunities.

He values ​​the contributions of US cooperation along with the North Triangle of Central America Prosperity Alliance Plan, whose initial funding is $ 650 million dollars and the capitalization of joint investments with the private sector in his country.

What is the importance of this visit to Washington as a representative of the private sector of Honduras?

This time we are working together with all the presidents of the business leader organizations of Central America to make a courtesy visit to different organizations and institutions of the United States government, where we will be presenting our work plan for the North Triangle Prosperity Alliance Plan. Recalling that when we refer to the Northern Triangle, the beginning of a plan (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador), but includes the rest of the countries, including Mexico, Belize, and the rest of the Central American countries.

As a form of a regional consensual approach?

Yes, we are studying the common themes that unite us, problems on which we have to seek solutions together instead of making a wall, as we have talked about the migration issue, We are all concerned that migration has a very high cost for our countries, ranging from family disintegration and the problems that lead to citizen insecurity, among others.

How receptive have you felt to your unified message as a Central American private sector?

Very good, there is a full awareness at the level of the private sector of our countries as well as at the level of the United States government that the best way to face the problems in the region is through the generation of opportunities. Our challenge is how to strengthen those economic bases to generate opportunities for our people. There is no better social program or social assistance than decent and sustainable employment.

How much can the private sector capitalize the $ 650 million US donation to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador in the North Triangle plan?

I can talk about Honduras particularly. We are developing a program together with the government, where we not only participate in the work tables and in the decision-making process, but we are also contributing almost 50 percent of the resources needed to be able to develop this program. Also, we are investing in agriculture and housing development programs that are required to generate opportunities for our people through investment. This programs are not donations, this are self-sustaining programs that generate a profitability, which is reinvested to continue generating employment and development.

We have seen compliments from Senior US Government Officials regarding the country´s advances after the political instability in 2009. How solid is it?

We had our first political instability in 2009, after being a very stable country. However, we have recovered in this matter and we are approaching a new electoral process that will take place on November 26, and we hope that it will be carried out as a true civic party, with peace and tranquility, as a rule of democracy.

And is there enough progress in economic matters?

The economic sector is a good indicator. In our case, it has been growing above the estimates that had been projected for this year, considering that this is a political year, it is atypical because normally even in the United States when approaching an electoral process the investments are stagnant, but this is not the case in Honduras where we had projected to grow 3.6 percent on GDP (Gross Domestic Producer), but we will exceed 4.1 percent, which indicates that even in an election year we continue to grow.

What about the security?

We were mentioned as one of the most violent countries in the world, San Pedro Sula one of the most dangerous cities, which was never true. I  can assure you that insecurity levels that the country reflected a few years ago have been completely reversed. It is not paradise yet, but we have managed to reverse those negative trends by more than 50 percent compared to the levels we had previously.

Security matters also received praise in Washington…

Yes, United States has qualified us as “The Honduran miracle”, because our authorities and  justice operators are doing an excellent job.

Fuente: http://www.eldiariodehoy.com/negocios/60291/estados-unidos-nos-ha-calificado-como-el-milagro-hondureno/