In Brief: IDB launches initiative to boost recovery of women-led businesses

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Grace Mesa, general manager at Floricola Santa Clara, a woman-led medium-sized enterprise in Tabacundo, Ecuador. Screengrab from: IDB via YouTube

The Inter-American Development Bank on Thursday launched an initiative to help women business owners in Latin America and the Caribbean connect to regional value chains and encourage international trade.

In partnership with the private sector, Women Growing Together in the Americas will provide support to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises — or MSMEs — run by women, who often find it difficult to access financing. The initiative aims to improve financial management of businesses to help women business owners get more funding; build capacity and improve production to increase access to foreign trade; and increase the use of technology to optimize business practices.

The new initiative will be housed on ConnectAmericas for Women, an existing free platform launched by IDB in 2016, which provides women with training tools and access to business opportunities.

At the bank’s Annual Meeting taking place this week, IDB Executive Vice President Reina Mejía said that strengthening women-led MSMEs is a priority for the bank and that these businesses are “the engines of economic recovery.” The COVID-19 pandemic has affected Latin America and the Caribbean more than any other region.

“Investing in women is investing in society,” Mejía said.

Why it’s needed: The Latin America and the Caribbean region has a $91 billion financing gap for women-owned MSMEs — the largest in the world. An IDB survey showed that 76% of women who sought business financing during the pandemic couldn’t get it. There are 27 million MSMEs in the region, of which 95% are microbusinesses. They generate 61% of the region’s jobs.

Who’s involved: Accenture, Facebook, Mastercard, NEC, Visa, and Walmart were announced as “launch partners,” and IDB said they are “working together to define specific opportunities to collaborate.”

About the author

  • Teresa Welsh

    Teresa Welsh is a Senior Reporter at Devex. She has reported from more than 10 countries and is currently based in Washington, D.C. Her coverage focuses on Latin America; U.S. foreign assistance policy; fragile states; food systems and nutrition; and refugees and migration. Prior to joining Devex, Teresa worked at McClatchy's Washington Bureau and covered foreign affairs for U.S. News and World Report. She was a reporter in Colombia, where she previously lived teaching English. Teresa earned bachelor of arts degrees in journalism and Latin American studies from the University of Wisconsin.