The Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Americas (WEAmericas) Project Assisting Economic Growth & Business Communications
Did you know iPods stop working above an altitude of 10,000 meters? Or have you ever used a machete to crack open a coconut because you ran out of safe drinking water while in the deep jungles of Peru? For Colleen Dyble, Vita Global’s Founder and Principal, these are just a couple of her experiences while travelling and working with entrepreneurs in Peru for 2 years.
Colleen tells us of times her diet occasionally consisted of guinea pig, palm weevils found in the jungle, baby goat innards and cow stomachs. Imagine having this be your menu options!
A bit of a health nut, after a string of trips to the Andes and the jungle eating all sorts of “delicacies”, Colleen searched desperately through Peruvian supermarkets for a healthy snack. She came across ‘Sacha Inchi,’ an Amazon grown seed high in healthy omega fatty acids, produced by a Peruvian company called Industrias Sisa S.A.C.
As fate would have it, over 18 months after leaving Peru, these packaged Sacha Inchi seeds crossed Colleen’s path once more.
Fast forward to September 2012. Colleen is in Managua, Nicaragua working with Vital Voices Global Partnership as part of the U.S. Department of State’s WEAmerica’s initiative to implement a market access, business strategy, and finance training for women owned enterprises from across 20 Latin American & Caribbean countries.
During an evening meet and greet, Colleen comes across Claudia Judith Gonzales Valdivieso, founder of Industrias Sisa S.A.C., and the innovative woman behind her beloved inca seed snack in Peru! Colleen was delighted for the opportunity to give back to Claudia by providing her with the skills and training needed to further grow her business.
Women-owned small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are significant accelerators of economic growth. They provide jobs, positively impact the economic competitiveness of their countries, and drive up its gross domestic product (GDP). Women are also responsible for nearly two-thirds of worldwide consumer spending and tend to spend more of their earned income than men on the health and education of their families, yielding significant social impact and bolstering future gains in productivity and inclusive growth.
As a result, leading corporations are seeking competitive advantage by including more women vendors in their global value chains to better serve and understand their customers. Yet, women-owned SMEs lack of access to training, networks, and finance remain key barriers to accessing these supply chains. The WEAmericas training is one of the few programs and opportunities women entrepreneurs in the developing countries receive in order to gain the skills and resources needed to start their own businesses. The above event was the first enterprise development training for the client in the region, spurring the development of a global curriculum to be implemented in Africa and the Middle East.
With the growth of women-owned businesses on the rise it is no surprise that this year’s theme at the 5th annual Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) conference co-sponsored by Intel was “Bold Beginnings, Brave Futures.” The conference focused on the impact of women-owned businesses in the global economy. DWEN follows the release of the annual Gender-Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (GEDI), released earlier this month, which revealed that developing countries are not the only ones lacking support for women entrepreneurship.
GEDI, the only index of this kind, “comprehensively measures high potential women entrepreneurship by analyzing entrepreneurial ecosystems, business environments and individual aspirations across 30 developed and developing economies spanning multiple regions, providing a systematic approach that allows cross-country comparison, benchmarking, and identifies data gaps.” Designed with forethought in mind it is “a tool to guide leaders, policymakers and law-makers in identifying country-wide strengths and weaknesses and developing strategies to create more favorable conditions in their countries to enable businesses founded by women to thrive.”
“We believe awareness of the current landscape for women entrepreneurship is the first step toward change.” – Karen Quintos, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Dell.
With this index, Dell intends to shine a light on the difficult conditions women across all nations, developed and developing, have to maneuver through in order to start their own business. In Africa, women startup activity in the region is high at 86 women to every 100 male startups even with challenges around access to education and capital and in the Latin American and Caribbean countries the average is 84 women to every 100 male business startups.
“The 2014 Gender-GEDI demonstrates that top-performing countries are not necessarily the ones with the highest GDP levels; rather they are those who have committed to improving the conditions for women entrepreneurship on several fronts simultaneously… …While these countries tend to have good business-enabling environments overall, they could benefit from supporting programs designed to activate and accelerate the growth of high-potential women entrepreneurs.” – Dell
Vita Global is acutely aware of this global development need, having experienced it firsthand through Colleen’s global projects, and is committed to accelerating the growth of high-potential women entrepreneurs by equipping them with 21st century technical solutions to enhance their organizational structures and develop efficient business processes in order to help their businesses become more profitable.
WEAmericas: The Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Americas (WEAmericas) initiative and exchange leverages public-private partnerships to increase women’s economic participation and address four key barriers women confront when starting and growing small and medium enterprises: access to capital, markets, skills and capacity building, and women’s leadership. The WEAmericas initiative includes an annual International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) exchange to the United States. The WEAmericas IVLP exchange allows the women to explore a variety of mentorship, job shadowing, education, and skills development programs. – See more here. In collaboration with the U.S. Department of State and the Walmart Foundation, Vital Voices conducted a four-day training program in Managua, Nicaragua, designed to help women entrepreneurs build the knowledge, skills, and abilities they need to scale their businesses, with a special emphasis on export and sourcing as strategies for enterprise growth.