Pro Mujer and LeFil Promote Gender Mainstreaming Train in Latin America by Training 100 Social Enterprises
19 June, 2023
As part of Pro Mujer’s initiatives to strengthen the gender lens investing ecosystem in Latin America, the Pro Mujer Gender Knowledge Lab is working with LeFil Consulting to support 100 social enterprises in designing innovative strategies to mainstream a gender perspective in order to attract investment and increase their social impact. The initiative is supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and PES LATAM.
In addition to promoting access to finance for women-led businesses, gender lens investing is a powerful catalyst for gender equity that supports equality in the workplace and across value chains, encourages equal and diverse participation in leadership positions, and supports the design of products and services that improve the lives of women and girls.
The rapid growth of gender lens investing within social finance has clearly demonstrated the benefits for both companies and investors, including improved financial returns, innovative products or services, better adaptation to the needs of target populations, enhanced professional performance, and more.
Social enterprises offer multiple opportunities for impact, with business models that focus on generating economic returns and social impact. Ensuring that these businesses mainstream a gender perspective makes them more attractive to the impact ecosystem while increasing their social impact and supporting gender equality.
In October 2022, Pro Mujer, in partnership with LeFil Consulting, launched the Gender Mainstreaming Fund, a program that seeks to enhance the growth of social enterprises throughout Latin America by helping them mainstream a gender perspective throughout their operations.
To date, the Pro Mujer Gender Knowledge Lab has trained more than 100 social enterprise founders and their teams using group workshops, helping them learn to identify gender biases and the benefits of integrating a gender perspective into their businesses, as well as sharing success stories of social enterprises that have scaled their businesses using a gender perspective. As part of the process, participating companies are encouraged to identify key opportunities to mainstream a gender perspective in their operations and develop innovative initiatives to promote gender equity in their organization while also strengthening their business model.
The workshops and tailored technical support provided to each company are adapted to each enterprise’s diverse geographic contexts, sectors, sizes, and business models, offering a remarkable opportunity to co-create gender-focused strategies ranging from internal policies to products and services that put equality and diversity center stage. One participating company, Tekiti, is a social enterprise in Mexico that supports fair trade between artisans and purchasers. As part of its efforts to improve the recognition and inclusion of women artisans, the company developed the “Visible and Indispensable: Women in Handicrafts” initiative to raise awareness of women’s role in the value chain, encourage their participation in decision-making, and support their involvement in leadership roles.
In addition to training, the Gender Mainstreaming Fund offers participating companies the potential to receive seed capital to implement the initiatives developed during the program. Following its participation in the program, RB Vision, a company that seeks to facilitate access to vision care through free diagnostics and reasonably priced lenses, successfully developed and launched the Healthy Women initiative, a comprehensive plan focused on women’s health. The initiative brought together private sector, government, and civil society actors to provide large-scale health services for women living in Yucatán, Mexico.
These examples demonstrate the potential of gender mainstreaming to scale business opportunities, help companies reach new markets, and expand their social impact. Investing in programs that encourage and support gender mainstreaming in the investment ecosystem ensures more opportunities for all types of social enterprises that are committed to amplifying their impact through unique and innovative initiatives.
The Pro Mujer Gender Knowledge Lab and LeFil Consulting are grateful to SDC and PES LATAM for their support and commitment to creating an investment and entrepreneurship ecosystem that uses gender mainstreaming as a vehicle for social and business transformation. The Gender Mainstreaming Fund will be active from October 2022 to December 2024 and will support over 100 entrepreneurs.