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IDB and partners launch program to empower women in trade and global value chains

The Inter-American Development Bank, in collaboration with private-sector leaders, today launched "Women Growing Together in the Americas", a program to encourage women entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean to integrate their businesses into foreign trade and regional value chains.

The program was designed in the wake of the COVID-19 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, 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. Furthermore, the program also engages with other potential private sector partners and welcomes additional expressions of interest.

"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 optimization of their business processes; and, lastly, improvements to their financial management in order to facilitate access to funding for their business.

IDB Executive Vice President Reina Mejía Chacón announced the launch this morning during the IDB's Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors. Her announcement was followed by a live-streamed seminar moderated by Chief of Staff and Executive Advisor of the Office of the Presidency, Jessica Bedoya, where private-sector leaders discussed this new program’s value. The panelists – Gheidy Gallo Santos from the Office of the President of Colombia, Alejandra Ferraro from Accenture, Kiki del Valle from Mastercard, JP Suarez from Walmart, and Susan Segal from Council of the Americas –highlighted different instruments and initiatives that promote more and better economic opportunities for women entrepreneurs and emphasized the program's potential.

"This program is the result of a collaborative process with women entrepreneurs who are already part of the ConnectAmericas for Women network. Furthermore, the technical assistance offered will be accompanied by mentoring, both from successful entrepreneurs and from industry experts. We are convinced that these mentorships will be a powerful tool to boost the vision of women entrepreneurs, improve the competitiveness of their companies, and thus, have a multiplier effect in their communities," said Reina Mejía Chacón, Executive Vice President of the IDB.

"At the IDB, we believe it is vital to strengthen women-led or owned MSMEs in Latin America and the Caribbean to close gender gaps, support their participation in foreign trade and strengthen their capacity to insert themselves into regional value chains. It is our responsibility to empower women entrepreneurs so that they continue to be engines of economic recovery and job creation," said Jessica Bedoya, Chief of Staff and Executive Advisor of the IDB's Office of the Presidency.

"A strategic accompaniment throughout the Digital Transformation process requires a clear strategy, commitment, and investment. It is a major challenge in both larger companies as well as MSMEs. A critical issue is the need for a change of mindset to understand how digital transformation impacts my business and the sense of urgency that this deserves. Transformation is no longer optional; it is mandatory. A program such as "Women Growing Together in the Americas" is key, as it considers elements like success factors, personalized support, co-creation of solutions, connection with trends and with the community of allies, mindset change management, and ample networking possibilities. We at Accenture are happy and proud to be part of a program with this great purpose and impact," said Alejandra Ferraro, HR & Responsible Business Director for Latin America at Accenture.

"Supporting women entrepreneurs and business owners in Latin America and the Caribbean helps the region's economic development. We are confident that through education and financial inclusion, women will be able to expand the possibilities and reach of their businesses, and at the end of the day, contribute to economic reactivation. We are excited to be part of this program as it will extend the benefits of technology and address one of the main barriers women face in accelerating their digital transformation," said Maren Lau, Facebook's Regional Vice President for Latin America.

"When women are marginalized, the vitality of economies is put at risk, as households lose half of their income-generating capacity," says Kiki del Valle, Executive Vice President, Market Development, Latin America and the Caribbean, Mastercard. "At Mastercard, we develop sustainable projects with the goal of creating prosperity. A year ago, amid a global quarantine, we made a global commitment: to reach 25 million women entrepreneurs with solutions that enable them to grow their businesses. Fulfilling this promise, we have developed different programs, which will be at the disposal of this project, to expand knowledge, share best practices and help the development of women entrepreneurs."

“As a social value creator, and in the context of the current pandemic, we at NEC are proud to support women-led MSMEs in the region in their digitalization process, aiming to promote business efficiency, security, and process improvement. We are very happy to join this initiative and to use our expertise and technologies to create a positive impact in the entrepreneurship ecosystem of Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as to contribute to the advancement of gender equality for a prosperous and sustainable world,” said Yasushi Tanabe, CEO & President of NEC Latin America.

“Visa believes in the power of women-led and owned MSMEs to drive inclusive economies for everyone, everywhere. We are thrilled to collaborate with the IDB and ConnectAmericas for Women in the “Growing Together in the Americas" program, an initiative bold in intention and exponential in reach for our region,” said Silvia Constaín, Head of Government Engagement for Visa Latin America and the Caribbean. “We pledge our commitment to work together, and to continue supporting women-led MSMEs’ growth and success by providing access to new solutions, tools, insights and opportunities to help fund, run and grow their businesses.”

“Walmart is proud of the many women entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs whom we are helping to flourish in the digital economy. Some got their start by learning core digital skills in a first job in our stores, others via our seller services and support programs that help them through regulatory processes and into our global value chains. These women leaders and the IDB are key partners with whom we will continue building more inclusive growth in Latin America”, said JP Suarez, Regional CEO-Massmart & Chile and Chief Administrative Officer, Walmart International.

The "Women Growing Together in the Americas" program 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 program 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.

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% of the women-owned or led businesses that expressed the need for funding during the pandemic were unable to obtain it.

“Women Growing Together in the Americas” is a collective effort, and the number of partners in the program keeps growing. To learn more about the opportunities available for private sector organizations committed to strengthening women-led MSMEs, please visit:

About the IDB

The Inter-American Development Bank's mission is to improve lives. Since its founding in 1959, the IDB has been a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social, and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research projects and provides policy advice, technical assistance, and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region.

About ConnectAmericas

ConnectAmericas is a free virtual platform created by the IDB, with the support of Google, Mastercard, Sealand, DHL, and Facebook to help SMEs in Latin America and the Caribbean gain access to international markets. The platform allows nearly 500,000 entrepreneurs from 160 countries to explore business opportunities and provides them with training tools to facilitate their transactions. In 2016, the IDB launched the Women ConnectAmericas initiative, the online business platform that seeks to boost the growth of women-led businesses in the region.

About Accenture

Accenture es una empresa de servicios profesionales líder a nivel mundial, que brinda una amplia gama de servicios en estrategia y consultoría, tecnología y operaciones, con capacidades digitales en todos estos servicios. Accenture Development Partnerships (ADP) es una de las áreas de inversión social de Accenture. El propósito de ADP es ofrecer las capacidades y la experiencia global de Accenture para abordar problemas sociales complejos, impactando positivamente la vida de las personas en el mundo en desarrollo.

About Mastercard

Mastercard (NYSE: MA) es una empresa de tecnología en la industria global de pagos. Nuestra misión es conectar e impulsar una economía digital inclusiva que beneficie a todos, en todas partes, haciendo que las transacciones sean seguras, sencillas, inteligentes y accesibles. Utilizando datos y redes protegidas, alianzas y pasión, nuestras innovaciones y soluciones ayudan a individuos, instituciones financieras, gobiernos y empresas a alcanzar su mayor potencial. Nuestro coeficiente de decencia impulsa nuestra cultura y todo lo que hacemos dentro y fuera de nuestra empresa. Con conexiones a lo largo de más de 210 países y territorios, estamos construyendo un mundo sostenible que abre a posibilidades que no tienen precio para todos.

About NEC

NEC Corporation has established itself as a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies while promoting the brand statement of “Orchestrating a brighter world.” NEC enabl businesses and communities to adapt to rapid changes taking place in both society and the market as it provides for the social values of safety, security, fairness and efficiency to promote a more sustainable world where everyone has the chance to reach their full potential. For more information, visit NEC at

About Visa

Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is the world’s leader in digital payments. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, reliable and secure payment network - enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. Our advanced global processing network, VisaNet, provides secure and reliable payments around the world, and is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second. The company’s relentless focus on innovation is a catalyst for the rapid growth of digital commerce on any device, for everyone, everywhere. As the world moves from analog to digital, Visa is applying our brand, products, people, network and scale to reshape the future of commerce. For more information, visit About Visa, and @VisaNews.

About Walmart

From our humble beginnings as a small discount retailer in Rogers, Ark., Walmart has opened thousands of stores in the U.S. and expanded internationally. Through innovation, we're creating a seamless experience to let customers shop anytime and anywhere online, through mobile devices and in stores. We are creating opportunities and bringing value to customers and communities around the globe. Walmart operates approximately 10,500 stores and clubs under 48 banners in 24 countries and eCommerce websites. We employ over 2.2 million associates around the world — nearly 1.5 million in the U.S. alone.


Bachelet,Pablo A.

Bachelet,Pablo A.


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