WeXchange, a conference focused on women entrepreneurs in Latin America, is slated for Dec. 11-12 in Miami. Knight Foundation supports the conference to connect entrepreneurs and foster the exchange of innovative ideas. Below, Susana Garcia-Robles, principal investment officer at the Multilateral Investment Fund, main sponsor and organizer of the event, writes about challenges and opportunities for women entrepreneurs in Latin America.
In Latin America, women entrepreneurs represent a low percentage of the business community, in some places as low as 6 percent. Their low numbers mean they face more challenges than men in the region, mostly due to the lack of strong networks.
The 2012 Women’s Report conducted by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor found that women tend to search for advice within their family circle, while men are more likely to seek advice from friends and other, more diverse network resources. This suggests limitations in accessing capital, as women-owned businesses attract less than 5 percent of venture capital funds worldwide. These differences put women entrepreneurs in Latin America at a disadvantage when compared to men, considering that the number of women heading companies has been traditionally lower.
As part of our work to strengthen entrepreneurial ecosystems in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Multilateral Investment Fund has recently focused its efforts on the low ratio of high-growth women entrepreneurs compared to their male counterparts. With that in mind, international accelerators and platforms NXTPLabs and Ellas2 collaborated with us to organize the first WeXchange, which we plan to make an annual event.