Breaking Barriers to Expand Opportunities for Women-Led Businesses in Latin America
Pro Mujer in collaboration with Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA)
To continue building an enabling ecosystem to advance Gender Lens Investing (GLI) in Latin America, and following the research project recommendations, Pro Mujer is developing a gender mainstreaming training for mentors for women entrepreneurs that builds on the comments and needs identified through WFI’s 2020 Columbia University, SIPA study. In addition, Pro Mujer is working with key players of the gender smart investment ecosystem in Mexico and Latin America, especially women investors and networks to increase the collaboration with and among them.
GLI marks the next impact frontier, an arena in which the needs and opportunities to make a difference are substantial, particularly in Latin America, where patriarchy and discrimination against women are pervasive and where GLI is just emerging.
The need and opportunity is especially pronounced with women-led Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs), which are significantly under-financed in Latin America. Thus in the spring of 2020, a team of Columbia University SIPA graduate students carried out a study that was published through WFI’s support “Bridging the Gap between Women Entrepreneurs and Investors in Mexico.” The objective of the project was to better understand the barriers to raising capital that women-led SGBs face in Mexico and identify actionable solutions to bridge the gap between women entrepreneurs and investors. The study resulted in seven recommendations for investors, Business Development Service (BDS) providers, and other actors to help bridge the gender gap in early-stage financing in Mexico. Overall, the research points to the need for investors and BDS providers to incorporate a robust gender lens into their portfolios and programs and to create a clear path to investment for women-led SGBs through increased cooperation.
Deliverables & Impact
As a result of SIPA’s recommendations to strengthen gender-inclusive programming, Pro Mujer is conducting a gender mainstreaming workshop for Pro Mujer’s mentors in April 2021. The methodology and content of the training is being piloted within Pro Mujer’s mentorship program, but afterwards offered to other BDS providers and relevant ecosystem builders willing to strengthen their mentorship services. 15 to 20 mentors (men and women) are being trained before Pro Mujer’s regional workshop focused on mentorship programs for young women, taking place in April 2021. Pro Mujer is also hosting a networking activity to strengthen the GLI community. Pro Mujer is uniquely positioned to act as a convening leader, thanks to the networks and in-country presence across Latin America.