Review of the implementation of a business environment programme based on the ILO’s Enabling Environment for Sustainable Enterprises (EESE) toolkit in Honduras, 2012–19

This report examines the experience of implementing a programme based on the ILO’s Enabling Environment for Sustainable Enterprises (EESE) toolkit in Honduras during 2012–19. The programme was operated by Honduras’s national association of employers’ organizations: the Consejo Hondureño de la Empresa Privada (Honduran Private Enterprise Council; COHEP). Improving the business environment is a key strategic objective that has guided COHEP in its work for many years.

The report identifies 11 key areas of lessons learned, which are relevant for discussing and comparing experiences with the implementation of EESE programmes in other countries. Among the most salient lessons is the importance of strong and continuous commitment by the implementing organization. While COHEP has indeed shown admirable commitment, it is essential to recruit additional technical staff to work on the programme. This would make it possible, among other things, to regain the programme’s initial focus on tackling business environment barriers (i.e. the “red tape”) – a focus that has tended to decrease with the programme’s expansion to offer business development services.

The reliance on interviews to evaluate the EESE programme’s impact for this review points to a further area of improvement – the need for COHEP to collect relevant data regularly as part of monitoring activities. This would enable a more comprehensive and objective assessment of the programme’s contribution to improving the business environment in Honduras.

The successes achieved so far – particularly the reforms of business procedures and related laws adopted during the programme’s first few years, and also the building of partnerships with other entities and government agencies – testify to how COHEP’s voice in the national dialogue on economic and social matters has been amplified thanks to the programme. The ultimate aim of applying the ILO’s EESE methodology is to foster the growth of sustainable enterprises that are able to create and maintain decent jobs. The urgency of this endeavour – not just in Honduras but across the whole world – has been accentuated by the COVID 19 crisis. In that respect, COHEP will need to adjust the priorities of its EESE programme for the coming years, but it has a solid base of achievements to build on as it seeks to promote, in particular, business productivity, the further transition to a digital economy and new business models in Honduras.