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New Study Reveals Women Entrepreneurs in STEM in LAC are on the Rise

The study commissioned by the IDB Lab also shows that 54% of women entrepreneurs in STEM have raised capital

Women entrepreneurs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are on the rise in Latin America and the Caribbean, with 54% successfully raising angel or venture capital and almost 80% planning on scaling up their company internationally in the next five years, according to the new study “wX Insights 2020: The Rise of Women STEMpreneurs,” commissioned by the IDB Lab, the innovation laboratory of the Inter-American Development Bank, in collaboration with Santander X.

The study finds that quality mentor network plays a critical role for women founders of high-growth companies, especially in fundraising. Of the 67% surveyed women founders with mentor support, 79% raised formal funding from VCs, angel investors, and accelerators. This becomes even more relevant with VC funds (84%).

Fintech, Edtech, Healthtech and Biotech were the top sectors of the companies featured in the survey. These are sectors that show both significant growth opportunities and potential for impact in Latin America and the Caribbean. This seems to align with the 3 main motivations of the surveyed STEMpreneurs behind their ventures: purpose, personal challenges and passions, plus and enthusiasm to solve pressing issues in their communities or countries.

Nevertheless, women STEMpreneurs still face key obstacles. For example, with 46% of the STEMpreneurs having at least one dependent, work-life balance and the social role of women was picked as one of the top 3 challenges. Access to finance was the biggest challenge of all, with 59% of the women picking it as their top frustration.

Despite some persisting barriers, the report shows several positive signs. The number of women co-founders has been increasing in the last five years, especially in traditionally male-dominated sectors like fintech. “Women founders are just as ambitious as men in their business growth,” says Susana García-Robles, Chief of Investment Unit and Gender Initiatives Coordinator at IDB Lab.

A “One of a Kind” Report on the State of Women Entrepreneurs in LAC in 2020

This report is one of a kind -- it not only demonstrates the untapped potential of women STEMpreneurs in LAC, but also shows how the scene has been changing for the last five years.

“wX Insights is a very useful tool for investors and other players interested in understanding the LAC entrepreneurial ecosystems, specifically in the rise of women entrepreneurs in STEM. Women are responsible for 64% of all global purchasing decisions on products and services, so having women in C-level positions in a company increases the chance that a startup reaches a massive market,” says Susana García-Robles.

The study, an initiative of WeXchange, the largest platform in LAC that connects women entrepreneurs with mentors and investors, is based on a survey data of 1,148 women entrepreneurs in LAC, out of which 400 were identified as STEMpreneurs. The study defines high-impact women STEMepreneurs in LAC as: the founder or partner of a startup where science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are key components; is formally incorporated; has operations in at least one LAC country; and has at least a minimum viable product (MVP).

The research also includes interviews with 17 venture capital (VC) investors who invest in women-led companies in the region.

For full insights, access the report and summary infographics

Are you an academic or a research institution looking to collaborate in a study? Contact us at for data access.

About IDB Lab  

IDB Lab is the innovation laboratory of the IDB Group. We mobilize financing, knowledge, and connections to catalyze innovation for inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean.   We believe innovation is a powerful tool that can transform our region, providing today unprecedented opportunities to populations that are vulnerable due to economic, social, or environmental factors.

About WeXchange

Established in 2013 by the IDB Lab, WeXchange is a platform that seeks to unleash the growth potential of women entrepreneurs in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in Latin America and the Caribbean. Each year, WeXchange organizes a forum, providing women entrepreneurs from the region the opportunity to broaden their network of contacts, access mentors and investors, receive training in key areas.

About Santander X

In Santander X we are committed to promoting high-impact university entrepreneurship, both locally and globally. Santander X offers a series of programs and tools designed to accompany entrepreneurs in each unique stage of their journey. The objective of Santander X, as emphasized by the Executive Director and President Ana Patricia Botín, is to become the largest university entrepreneurship community in the world that connects our entrepreneurs with the 3 most important resources: talent, clients and financing.  Santander X today has over 43,000 active university entrepreneurs from 10 countries in the community.


Manzano Guillen, Maria De Gador

Manzano Guillen, Maria De Gador
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Choe,Gyoung Joo

Choe,Gyoung Joo
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