The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in collaboration with private sector leaders, last week launched Women Growing Together in the Americas, a programme to encourage women entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean to integrate their businesses into foreign trade and regional value chains.
The programme was designed in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic as a specific action to contribute to the socio-economic recovery of Latin America and the Caribbean.
It will provide technical assistance to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) led by women through ConnectAmericas for Women to foster inclusive post-pandemic economic reactivation, generate more and better employment, and reduce gender gaps.
The IDB and launch partners Accenture, Facebook, Mastercard, NEC Corp, Visa, and Walmart have expressed their commitment to the success of Women Growing Together in the Americas, and are working together to define specific opportunities to collaborate.
According to IDB, Women Growing Together in the Americas seeks to support women-led enterprises in three main areas – capacity-building and production improvements to facilitate their insertion in foreign trade and value chains; the use and adoption of information and communication technologies for the transformation and optimisation of their business processes; and improvements to their financial management in order to facilitate access to funding for their business.
IDB further indicated that women-led businesses have lower participation in foreign trade as well as in global and regional value chains compared to their male counterparts.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the challenges that women entrepreneurs already experienced, such as the low use and adoption of information technologies and limited access to funding. The need for funding in women-owned MSMEs is US$ 91 billion, and 76 per cent of the women-owned or led businesses that expressed the need for funding during the pandemic were unable to obtain it,” the organisation said.
The Women Growing Together in the Americas programme will be jointly managed by the IDB’s Integration and Trade and Social Sectors through the ConnectAmericas for Women initiative, the online business platform developed by the bank with the support of several multinationals, to connect women entrepreneurs with real business opportunities and provide them with innovative tools to improve their business management.
The programme builds on the achievements of the IDB’s #100kChallenge, a campaign that seeks to connect, train and certify more than 100,000 women entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean by the end of 2021.