Supporting Women and Small Businesses Drives the Economic Development of Latin America: Takeaways from the GLI Forum LatAm 2022

1 December, 2022


Over the past few years, female entrepreneurship has boomed worldwide. Based on data from the World Bank, women entrepreneurs represent 50% of all entrepreneurs in Latin America. More and more women are launching their own businesses, increasing and strengthening their skills and capacities and generating positive externalities for their families and communities.

Supporting and investing in women must be a priority in efforts to create a more peaceful, equitable, and just society. According to the International Labour Organization, improving opportunities for women doesn’t just benefit women and their families but also boosts local economies and markets, which means that supporting women directly benefits all of society.

Additional data published by the International Finance Corporation shows that financing women-led businesses represents a USD 6.5 billion global opportunity, leaving no doubt that women-led businesses represent an enormous investment opportunity.

In Latin America, a significant majority of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises are led by women. For Coca-Cola, supporting the growth and resilience of women-led businesses has been a priority for over a decade. To date, Coca-Cola Latin America has supported almost 500,000 women in partnership with civil society organizations like Pro Mujer, Fundes, Aliarse, and dozens of local organizations, universities, companies, and government agencies.

Although these joint initiatives have had an enormous positive impact, they have also highlighted just how much remains to be done to achieve truly inclusive and sustainable development.

Spaces like the GLI Forum LatAm are an essential step in the right direction. At the 2022 edition, recently held in Antigua, Guatemala, representatives from the private, public, and civil society sectors came together to share their perspectives, experiences, lessons learned, accomplishments, and challenges.

During the event, representatives from Coca-Cola, Pro Mujer, FUNDES, and Aliarse came together to participate in the panel “Small Businesses: Drivers of Economic Growth and Regional Transformation.” During the session, participants shared data to support the importance of incorporating a gender perspective into initiatives to support small businesses, touching on the multiple challenges that women and women-led small businesses face, as well as the value of strengthening women’s business knowledge, including effective digital, financial, and business management. Panelists also discussed the importance of collaboration and collective action to maximize regional impact and scale.

“I’m enthusiastic about the road ahead and the willingness of the different organizations working in the region to promote gender lens investing,” said moderator Andrea Mota, Sustainability & Stakeholder Engagement Director, Latin America at The Coca-Cola Company. “There’s a clear understanding that gender lens investing is critical in order to close the persistent equality and equity gaps in Latin America and move towards inclusive development in the region.”

“At Coca-Cola, we are committed to supporting women. They are critical both to Coca-Cola as a company and to the broader economic system, and it’s clear that they play a crucial role in driving economic growth worldwide,” added Mota. “I’m grateful to Pro Mujer and the GLI Forum for bringing us together and creating spaces where we can share our perspectives and raise awareness of many important issues impacting Latin America.”

Empowering and supporting women is fundamental for the growth and development of business, the economy, and Latin America.