Community Economic Development Promoter

The Peace Corps continues to monitor and assess the COVID-19 pandemic domestically and internationally. The locations and timing of returning Volunteers to service will be determined on a country-by-country basis. The positions and projected departure dates listed below are subject to change.

Project Description

Volunteers in the Community Economic Development (CED) sector work alongside local partners to support Paraguayan families—especially women and youth—in increasing access to and/or expanding their economic opportunities. Volunteers work in schools and with women’s groups, as well as other groups outside of school.

The schools are technical high schools which focus on either business administration, marketing, or accounting. Volunteers work in collaboration with teachers on student personal finance, including saving clubs and entrepreneurship training. Volunteers also coordinate with the local municipality and other local organizations--such as women’s groups--to form community saving groups and increase money management skills and with out-of-school youth and adults on entrepreneurship training. Additionally, with the women’s group, CED Volunteers work to support the creation of home-based income generating activities (IGAs) or strengthen existing ones.

The recently-redesigned Community Economic Development project has the following three goals and activities:

Goal 1: Finance - Increase individuals’ capacity for personal money management
• Create and support community savings groups (CSGs) with adults, especially with women
• Create and support community savings groups with youth (e.g., in schools)
• Plan and facilitate personal money management training in a CSG setting
• Guide individuals to apply personal money management skills

Goal 2: Entrepreneurship - Develop individuals' (especially youth’s) entrepreneurial potential
• Plan and facilitate a training that includes both entrepreneurship behaviors, business planning, and basic business skills using the Build Your Dreams curriculum (Construye Tus Sueños)
• Guide individuals to adopt entrepreneurial behaviors and apply basic business skills to their new or existing entrepreneurial activity
• Organize events for aspiring or existing entrepreneurs (e.g., Paraguay Emprende, business plan competition)

Goal 3: Income Generating Activities - Improve individuals’ (especially women’s) capacity to implement income-generating activities
• Plan and facilitate training on how to select and implement an effective IGA
• Guide individuals on how to implement an IGA
• Plan and facilitate basic business skills training for individuals with an IGA
• Guide individuals to apply basic business skills to their new or existing IGA

In Paraguay, a small business can be very small, and can be better described as a micro-enterprise. For example, Volunteers may work with a señora selling empanadas; a carrot vendor at the local market; or a couple of young adults trying to start a juice business. Typically the businesses or IGAs are very informal.

The work setting consists of high schools and women’s groups, but may also include cooperatives, municipalities, governmental, and non-governmental organizations or neighborhood commissions.

According to the strategic plan of Paraguay's National Youth Secretariat, the country has one of the larger youth populations in the region. Investing in youth will play an important role in promoting community economic development in Paraguay. For this reason, the CED sector focuses its effort in this stratum of the population, by building the capacity of youth as community leaders and business owners.

Volunteers are placed in urban and semi-urban areas where there was a higher incidence of unemployment prior to the pandemic. All Volunteers in the CED sector will co-facilitate in a formal classroom setting and coordinating activities with teachers and students.

Many Volunteers also work on secondary activities outside the project's goals which, may be started/proposed by the community and carried out with the Volunteer’s support. Depending on the community's priorities, secondary projects might include English classes, community clean-up events, promotion of dental health, art classes, sessions on healthy nutrition habits, recycling projects, or water sanitation.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

In the past year, the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
OR
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have:
• Bachelor or Master of Business Administration, or a Master of Arts/Master of Science degree in Public Administration, Management, Accounting, Banking, or Finance
• At least one year of experience in business management
• Experience in business strategy or consulting
• Experience in entrepreneurship or business training
• Basic to moderate knowledge of family finance or micro-finance/community savings groups
• Experience forming, leading or supporting student youth groups or community groups
• Experience working with women’s group
• At least one year of community service or volunteer experience

Required Language Skills

Candidates must meet one or more of the language requirements below in order to be considered for this position:

A. Completed 4 years of high school Spanish coursework within the past 8 years

B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college‐level coursework within the past 6 years

C. Native/fluent speaker of Spanish

A candidate who does not meet the language proficiency levels above can take a language placement exam to demonstrate proficiency. Competitive applicants typically attain a score of 50 on the Spanish College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages exam (ACTFL OPI).

Candidates should also exhibit a strong interest to learn an indigenous language as Paraguay is an officially bi-lingual country and learning both languages, Spanish and Guarani, are critical for Volunteer effectiveness.

Competitive candidates will have conversational Spanish language skills. Paraguay is a bilingual nation where both Spanish and Guaraní are official national languages. In order to communicate in the capital city of Asunción (and other large urban areas), Spanish is most commonly spoken. However, in most semi-urban to rural areas where Health Volunteers are placed, Guaraní or “Jopara” (a mixture of Guaraní and Spanish) is the most common way to communicate. Therefore, Volunteers will need to learn both languages in order to be able to communicate and be effective in their work. Volunteers who enter training with minimal Spanish language skills may struggle to learn the two new languages which can be a source of frustration. Successful Volunteers have an open and positive attitude about language learning and dedicate a substantial amount of time outside of class to studying and practicing both languages, especially with their host family. Trainees will not be able to swear in as Volunteers unless they meet both language benchmarks. Additionally, during training, Volunteers will be taught basic competence in Spanish, but the focus of language training will be in Guaraní. If perfecting or becoming fluent in Spanish is a main goal of your Peace Corps service, Paraguay may not be the best fit.

Living Conditions

Host communities for CED Volunteers are mainly medium-sized towns (7,000-12,000 people) or urban areas (12,000+). Some of those communities are settlements or “asentamientos,” which typically have modest housing and lack public services. Roads may not exist or be in poor condition with limited access to public transportation. Other communities consist of a few city blocks around a town center, which includes a school, church, small businesses, and a soccer field. These towns are located one to eight hours from the capital city of Asunción by bus.

CED Volunteers typically have access to electricity and cell service. Some communities have internet, but it is best to come prepared to not have regular internet because the quality and reliability of the internet service might not be stable.

CED Volunteers are often placed within 2-3 hours of Volunteers from another sector. In a few cases, more than one Volunteer may be in the same community if it is large. In this case, each Volunteer will have their own specific organization or neighborhood with which to work.

Volunteers must adapt to extreme heat and humidity, often between 95 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit and 70-90% humidity.

All Trainees and Volunteers live with a host family for the 11 weeks of Pre-Service Training and the first two months of service, for a total of five months of required homestay experience. Homes may be very basic, with outdoor latrines and no modern plumbing. Most Volunteer housing has access to running water within the property line, if not in the house itself. In the cases where there is no running water, wells are available to be shared.

The Paraguayan diet is heavily based on meat, which can be challenging for vegetarians. The diet is also high in carbohydrates and many meals involve more than one starch at a time (e.g., manioc and pasta or manioc and rice). In many Paraguayan families, manioc and meat are eaten almost every day. Fruits are available seasonally. Most communities have access to tomatoes, onions, and green peppers, but limited access to other vegetables. Some Volunteers plant gardens to increase the variety of vegetables. Full-scale grocery stores are typically not available in host communities.

Generally speaking, Paraguayans place high importance on personal appearance, including cleanliness. Therefore, cleanliness and neat appearance are very important for Volunteers who represent the Peace Corps and host agencies. This is a valuable concept to remember as it will help with integrating into your community, because it shows respect for Paraguayan values. Shorts, flip-flops, and tank tops are inappropriate except around the house or for recreational activities. It is expected that Volunteers wear business casual as a working professional would in the U.S. Most Paraguayans dress up for special occasions. In schools and offices, including in Peace Corps facilities, “office casual” is appropriate (nice jeans, khakis, and knee-length skirts; button-down shirts or nice pull-over blouses; closed-toed shoes or dressy sandals).

The pace of life is Paraguay is different than the U.S. Language barriers coupled with indirect communication styles may pose additional challenges. However, the vast majority of Volunteers are able to overcome these with effort and dedication. In general, Paraguayan communities are very welcoming to Volunteers and the Peace Corps has an overall positive reputation in the country.

Serving in Paraguay

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Paraguay: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, health, and safety -- including health and crime statistics -- in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Paraguay is happy to accept couples in the same sector. Therefore, your partner must apply and qualify for Community
Economic Development.

Couples live together with the same host family during Pre-Service Training (PST) and for the first two months of service, but may be separated for certain field-based activities during PST.

The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples, and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couple placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process recruiters and placement officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities. For more information please visit: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.


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