INCAE and EMPRO seek to offer an alternative to support female entrepreneurship in the region

09 2022 August
Institutional comunication

Gabriela Lucke, Director of the Center for Inclusive and Sustainable Leadership - CELIS, ensures that this INCAE impact center seeks to continue empowering women to make them, not only owners of their companies, but also of their destinies.

Just two weeks after its launch, the EMPRO (Progressing Entrepreneurs) development program already had 60 Honduran businesswomen registered and determined to change their lives. The project only admits 40, so a strict selection process will be carried out after the registration closes, which will be on August 31, 2022.

INCAE, through two of its impact centers: CLACDS (Latin American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development) and CELIS (Center for Inclusive and Sustainable Leadership), participates in a very relevant way in EMPRO, which had previously been launched in Guatemala. The good results motivated its creators and sponsors to expand it to Honduras.

“The situation of women entrepreneurs in Central America is complicated -says Gabriela Lucke, Director of CELIS-. The region faces various social problems that have placed women in a position where they are not supported, and when they seek to start a business or exploit the potential of an idea, they are not trusted. 

“The work of CLACDS and CELIS is to provide women who want it with the necessary tools to become successful businesswomen.”

Currently, CELIS's mission is to develop men and women who create a more equitable society. It is not about favoring one gender over the other, but about using the expertise of all those involved to investigate, create impact activities and develop leaders who can excel in tomorrow's projects. 

Other programs promoted by CELIS

In addition to the EMPRO program, CELIS currently participates in research on diversity in boards of directors. “This is part of a global initiative where INCAE is in charge of the Latin American area -says Lucke-, and will allow the creation of programs focused on the needs found. The launch of the Leadership Observatory is also planned, directed by Camelia Ilie, Dean of Executive Education and Strategic Innovation at INCAE and President of CELIS.” 

It will share leadership practices, decision-making processes, risk management and the elements that make leadership inclusive and equitable. "Having the vision of these people up close in a global approach, with so much volatility and with historical economic situations, is something that fills us with pride," he added.

One of the most common problems for women entrepreneurs in the region is time. Many women cannot build their companies or leave the growth process halfway because society places them in jobs that should not be exclusive to them; for example, home and child care. “Our wish is to integrate more countries and for there to be an exchange of best practices. When we have groups of women, they share practices on a personal level to manage their time and break down the barriers that prevent them from advancing or growing their companies. The fear of not being able to balance time and the feeling of guilt for leaving family issues behind are aspects that greatly limit women”, she expressed.

EMPRO, a golden opportunity

Being the most important business school in Latin America, INCAE offers academic support for all those businesswomen who participate in the EMPRO program. Thanks to its networking network, the institution will seek to create and strengthen working relationships between entrepreneurs and various business leaders. In addition, it will offer training with the necessary knowledge so that registered businesses can grow successfully and have financing opportunities so as not to remain stagnant.

As can be seen, INCAE's participation in the EMPRO program is not limited only to the academic part.

The truth is that, according to Lucke, “there are structural and cultural biases that hinder entrepreneurship among women. “To give an example, only 59% of women in the region have received education in business development issues; It would seem a high percentage, but when compared to that of men (70%), it is clear that something is being done wrong.” 

It is also important to address biases in aspects such as credit. "Many banks limit women, because if they don't go with a man, it is difficult for them to be granted a loan," she points out. “But if the woman goes with confidence, fully aware of her company, knowing the strengths she has and what she can grow, everything ends up being easier. It is important to find self-imposed barriers and biases and then break them down. “Another type of training that INCAE will provide to the selected women is transferring their knowledge from home management to the business world,” says Lucke.

With all this, INCAE and EMPRO seek to transform the lives that need it most. This program is an opportunity to work together with the right people, those who will give the best advice, knowledge and opportunities to achieve the goals of all businesswomen. Sometimes success seems far away, but it is not impossible. It only requires preparation, perseverance and support from those who have already come a long way, those who are destined to change lives and make a difference.

In Honduras

under the initiative Women's Business Growth, Women Entrepreneurs Progressing Program - EMPRO of INCAE Business School, aims to contribute with 100% scholarships for the training of 40 businesswomen from Honduras, through training specifically designed to acquire the necessary knowledge for the transformation and scaling of their businesses and greater access to financing. Gracia M. Barahona is the manager of the Program in Honduras.

HERE You can find more information and apply to this program. We also invite you to read the study Status of the access of women entrepreneurs to the Financial System in Honduras, carried out by INCAE's CLACDS and the Ecobanking Project, and sponsored by CABEI.

Related article:

INCAE, sponsored by the PriceSmart Foundation and Cargill, promote EMPRO, a program to generate greater equality and prosperity for Honduran women

Whats Next?

In order to continue to motivate more women in the region, the EMPRO program could be expanded in the coming years. This was confirmed by Gabriela Lucke: “We are in the process of negotiating with an entity in Costa Rica and we would like to find opportunities in South America: we are very interested in the Andean region and being able to create an acceleration program for SMEs led by women. We know the potential they have."