Intrapreneurship, the route of women to break barriers

April 05 2017
Executive Education INCAE

Women bring unique and economic benefits to entrepreneurship. Research has shown that they are better at calculating risk, that they are ambitious serial entrepreneurs, and that they lead companies to better business results in leadership positions.

Ryan Schill, Director of the Latin American Center for Entrepreneurs at INCAE Business School, analyzes the role of women in corporate entrepreneurship, or intra-entrepreneurship.

What is the importance of corporate entrepreneurship?

Corporate entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship occurs when an idea or project is developed within an existing organization. This innovation within a corporation is vital for the development and expansion of ideas and progress in Latin America. Large companies can greatly benefit from corporate entrepreneurship because it enables organizations that are often risk-averse to engage with innovation and produce leaders and teams that can participate in corporate enterprise. 

How can corporate entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship be promoted?

Business leaders can promote corporate entrepreneurship by providing an environment in which entrepreneurial thinking is encouraged. This can be fostered within an organization by promoting confidence and creativity and being willing to take calculated risks. Business leaders can exemplify this pervasive idea of ​​innovation in order to inspire their co-workers. 

However, there are also more specific needs that organizations have in order to be able to successfully implement these entrepreneurship goals. An important component of this involves capable leaders, who can analyze progress, provide feedback, set and recalculate parameters, and implement a system of checks and balances to measure successful progress in corporate entrepreneurship. 

INCAE is committed to producing responsible students who can plan inclusive ways to alter the status quo by improving their economic communities. This innovative generation of ideas, whether within an existing entity or developing a completely new entity, is the goal that INCAE has for its students. The purpose of an entrepreneurial education is to help Latin American students become effective leaders with the power to transform companies and, therefore, countries.

Are there tools for women to make greater contributions?

Although there are many barriers that women traditionally face in the business world, they also have opportunities in the entrepreneurial culture. The entrepreneurial culture offers great potential for women to better contribute to organizations. As women become more involved in intra-company projects, they begin to break down the stereotypes associated with women in business. 

Corporate entrepreneurship offers a great route to overcome barriers when women accept the incentive to get involved. They begin to further transform the entrepreneurial culture by leading. As women assume leadership in entrepreneurial projects, they take advantage of the positive attributes that accompany such action, such as leading the company to new growth, being models of dedication to the company and raising the level of excellence in leadership. Even a woman who takes the lead in such a setting helps by changing cultural perceptions, which provides a truer reality for women entrepreneurs and makes it easier for other women to participate.

It is said that one woman on a board of directors is a symbol, two are a minority and three women are a change in minority group dynamics. Have you seen examples in Central America where this has happened?

The support of educators, employers and all entrepreneurs in the workforce is needed to see the need to resist stereotypes in order to benefit from the participation of women entrepreneurs.

Researchers have found that women bring unique and financial benefits to entrepreneurship. Research has shown that women are better at calculating risk, that they are ambitious serial entrepreneurs, and that they lead companies to better business results in leadership positions.

INCAE has witnessed many examples of women who, after their academic preparation, have been extremely successful in their projects. They have become part of the wave of women participating in the entrepreneurial culture who are slowly reversing perceptions and contributing to a large number of successful projects, which then produces successful companies that in turn support all of Latin America.

Excerpt from the interview published on the website of Estrategia & Negocios magazine.

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