Latin America needs more business training programs for female entrepreneurs

01 2018 August
Executive Education INCAE

Gender discrimination in Latin American societies considerably reduces the effective participation of women in the development of new businesses and, therefore, it conditions the possibilities of professional advancement and limits the development opportunities for their families. Even more serious, inequality prevents women from contributing efficiently to business development in the countries of the region.

This is one of the main conclusions reached by the study "Entrepreneurship and gender in Latin America and its role in economic development - 2017", developed by a team of professors and researchers from INCAE Business School.

The investigation was led by the Dr. Camelia Ilie-Cardoza, Dean of Executive Education and Chair of the Center for Collaborative and Women's Leadership, and the Dr. Guillermo Cardoza, Full Professor at INCAE, with the collaboration of Andrés Fernández and Haydée Tejeda.

The data were obtained from a survey conducted 342 entrepreneurs from 15 Latin American countries, with the purpose of identifying both the obstacles and the factors that determine the entrepreneurial activity of women, and contribute to designing training programs and appropriate incentive systems to promote the success of their companies.

According to the researchers, when the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Global Entrepreneurship Index (GHG) of the world's leading countries are compared with those of Latin American countries, it is clearly observed a positive correlation between the performance of the entrepreneurship index and the generation of wealth, in other words, the greater the entrepreneurial activity, the greater the economic growth.

“The results of the study indicate that, To promote women's entrepreneurship, it is necessary to develop more specific business training programs for female entrepreneurs, professional mentoring services and better financing systems.. Likewise, forming more diverse management teams, incorporating more men, will help women entrepreneurs to improve their diagnostic capacity, design better strategies, manage risks more efficiently, accelerate the rates of process innovation and more efficiently incorporate new technologies. ”Said Ilie-Cardoza.

The study presents the following conclusions and final recommendations for the design and implementation of actions regarding this issue:

  • There are some significant differences in the perceptions and results of the entrepreneurial activity of women and men. In the first place, 22,7% of the female entrepreneurs surveyed are divorced or separated, as opposed to 7,9% of men with the same marital status. Only 59% of female entrepreneurs in Latin America have business education, while 70% of men do. Finally, 27,8% of women have suffered some type of gender discrimination when doing business, and 50,6% of them do not consider that men and women have equal opportunities to undertake.
  • The study draws attention to another important cultural characteristic of Latin American societies that negatively affects female entrepreneurship. Respondents state that their cultures perceive marriage as an effective mechanism for women to achieve economic stability. This perception reveals the macho ideology that is still predominant in large sections of the population and reveals the low self-esteem and self-confidence experienced by a large part of women, which translates into barriers to assuming the challenge of being economically independent and contributing to the economies of countries.
  • The results indicate that The combination of public and private policies and support systems has a positive impact on the creation of companies and the growth of SMEs in the region. Although the research emphasizes the gender perspective, in the end it all comes down to efficiently mobilizing the resources available in a society to grow equitably and with inclusion. The discussion in the region, therefore, must place the debates on gender equality within the framework of the reflection on models of sustainable development.
  • Greater clarity on the differences between female and male entrepreneurship in Latin America, An understanding that allows addressing, from a gender perspective, the design of more efficient public and corporate policies to promote entrepreneurship in the countries of the region. The research findings and observations make it possible to consider the specific conditions and barriers to support entrepreneurial talent with a greater probability of success and thus accelerate the economic growth of Latin America on the basis of an equitable and sustainable model.

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