Connecting Central America

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The ‘Connecting Central America’ project is financed primarily by the European Union (EU) and coordinated by the Secretariat for Economic Integration of Central America (SIECA). It forms part of the Central American Regional Economic Integration (INTEC) project, which aims at strengthening the economic integration in Central America and maximizing the benefits of the implementation of the Association Agreement signed between the European Union and Central America by reducing regional constraints to competitiveness and diversification. The objective is to strengthen the Central American capacity to market goods and services, through advice and support to SMEs in carefully selected value chains and the joint implementation with Business Support Organisations from the region. This is a project with a duration of 4 years and aims to strengthen 64 Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) and cooperatives from Central America in becoming (more) competitive on the European market. The objective is for 48 SMEs to generate an additional export volume of € 50 million at the beginning of 2023.

Focal points of the Connecting Central America programme:

  • The programme is unique in the sense that it covers six countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama) and four sectors (Specialty Coffees, Cacao & Derivatives, Fresh Fruits & Vegetables and Fish & Seafood);
  • Coaching focuses on the implementation of the action plan made during the Export Audit. Particular attention is given to the participation of the beneficiaries in a ‘Market Orientation Mission’ to Europe, and how to develop an Export Marketing Plan (EMP) as well as a CSR Action Plan. Companies that need support in certification or access to finance will be supported with technical expertise as well;
  • The two final years focus on establishing sustainable relationships with European buyers. Participants will implement their online and offline marketing strategy and will participate in European trade fairs, buyers’ missions or virtual B2B activities;
  • Parallel to the coaching and training provided at micro-level to participating companies, project interventions will be designed, in close collaboration with local partners, to address those export bottlenecks or European market opportunities at meso (sector) level, which require collective action.

Meet the participants

64 companies are taking part in this export coaching programme. Click here to find out more or to get in touch with these exporters.


CBI implements its activities in close collaboration with local partners. Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were signed in the second semester of 2018 with these partners, in which roles and responsibilities of each partner are described. Partners are public (e.g. official Trade Promotion Organisations) or private (exporter associations, sector associations, Chambers of Commerce). In these partnerships, CBI contributes with EU market expertise (through experts, trainers and market research) and the organisation of events in Europe, while local partners in Central America contribute with knowledge of the local situation and a network in the local SME community, as well as the organisation of events in the region. Click here to find out more or to get in touch with these partners.


The companies have received following support until April 2020:

  • Export Audit and selection
  • Market Access Requirements Training
  • Export Marketing Plan Training
  • Cupping Training (coffee)/Sensorial Evaluation Training (cacao)
  • Market Orientation Missions in Europe
  • Technical Assistance Missions and Distance Guidance by the experts
  • Export training on Effective Trade Fair Participation
  • Trade Fair Participation, such as Fruit Logistica 2020 and CHOCOA 2020

Quotes from the companies about the programme:

Market Orientation Mission for Specialty Coffee in the Netherlands and Germany:

“For us, the learning obtained through this programme is a satisfaction. Your orientation and training sessions have been of great benefit to our organization. It is even more satisfactory to see the first results of commercialization and participation in the World of Coffee trade fair in Berlin, when finalizing our first sales to Europe. This is the fundamental objective of our organisation and the programme. The buyer even developed a logo for COCASAM’s coffee, which will be called WAPAIA, a word in the Lenca language. A logo that will be marked on the bags of our first container that we are planning to ship on 23 September 2019. This logically opens the door for a long term friendship and business relationship, which is our ultimate goal”.
Geovanny López, CEO of COCASAM Ltda. (Honduras)

At this year’s Fruit Logistica 2020 edition:

”I consider it as a win for us, that we have had the opportunity to partner with and know peers in this industry from Central America. The connections and even friendships that we have with the other producers, help us in many ways. In our everyday business, we have been able to ask our new friends for help or assistance, makes participating in this program even better. The very first day before 1 pm I had 12 amazing leads who are people really interested in my product. I am talking about big chains in the European market."
Rider Tenorio, Burke Agro (Nicaragua)

For more information you can consult following websites:

Get involved as an importer

Are you a European importer interested in products from Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador or Honduras? You can contact us to get more information or to meet with these suppliers who are being trained to export to Europe.

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Programma Manager

Daphne ter Braak
+31 (0)88 04 24329
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