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Business Opportunities and Support Services

Guido Ximenes Sequeira, Director of Josephina Farm explains when seedlings are ready to be transplanted to vegetable fields, Timor Leste. Photo: Annabella Skof ILO.

The BOSS programme was established to improve economic opportunities for poor and vulnerable people.

In Timor Leste, the Business Opportunities and Support Services (BOSS) programme was established to improve economic opportunities for poor and vulnerable people. Irish Aid funded the programme, working in partnership with the ILO and the Ministry of Economy and Development, to boost local economic development, create rural employment, expand markets and improve the provision of business development services.

Almost 80% of people living in poverty in Timor Leste are employed in the agriculture sector. Raising cattle is a traditional part of life in Timor Leste, but cattle are usually kept for ceremonial rather than commercial reasons, and are generally only sold in times of emergency. Although 31% of households own cattle, cattle exports have ceased in recent years, and beef products are now being imported to meet demand.

Under the BOSS programme, the National Directorate for Rural Economic Development set about establishing a national market for cattle, by developing the country’s first national commercial abattoir. Each step of the value chain was examined, from cattle production, through transport and delivery of livestock, the processing, and finally branding and marketing, with the aim of re-engaging with international markets.

The abattoir developed under this programme created a market for 43,000 cattle farmers, strengthening their livelihoods, while 1,286 micro and small entrepreneurs have benefitted from the wider BOSS programme.