How Pro Mujer will upskill 50,000 women entrepreneurs in Latin America
With support from Visa Foundation, Pro Mujer is bringing digital financial skills and new opportunities to thousands of women across LAC.
Elizabeth Benitez of El Salvador was looking for a flexible way to earn money while she completed her studies. Struggling to find a viable part-time job, she started a candle business. When the business itself took off, Benitez saw an opportunity to grow but didn’t know where to start.
To celebrate her business’ first anniversary, she signed up for Emprende Pro Mujer–a digital platform focused on entrepreneurship, financial skills, mental health tips, and other knowledge-sharing for women business owners across Central America.
Emprende is offered by Pro Mujer, a women-founded organization that believes with the right opportunities, women can become powerful agents of change.
Benitez isn’t alone in her search for financial tools and resources—and the stakes in LAC are higher than some other parts of the world. In LAC, women entrepreneurs are 40 percent more likely than male entrepreneurs to report necessity as a primary motive for business startup2 as they look to support themselves, their families, and their livelihoods. Similarly, in emerging markets around the world, 70 percent of women-owned small businesses (SMBs) have unmet financing needs.
These challenges highlight the critical need for organizations like Pro Mujer — who, over 30 years, have provided more than $4.4 billion in small loans impacting more than two million women across the region.
Through an initial $1 million grant from Visa Foundation, Pro Mujer was able to launch what has become a women-focused digital platform, offering business resources, mentoring, and financial training. During the pilot, the platform served 25,000 women entrepreneurs, a vast majority of whom would recommend it to others (84%) and were confident it helped them improve their business (80%). Through Emprende, Pro Mujer is on track to support 50,000 women over the next three years.
Following the success of the pilot, Visa Foundation committed $3 million to Pro Mujer over three years, supporting the organization’s commitment to increasing women’s access to capital across LAC, namely Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Peru.
Visa Foundation is proud to partner with organizations like Pro Mujer, who are committed to the growth of gender diverse and inclusive small businesses, globally.
To read more about Visa Foundation and its work enabling individuals, businesses, and economies around the world to thrive, visit the Visa Foundation page.
1 Note: Data for formal enterprises. World Bank estimates 200M+ informal firms also operate worldwide. Sources: Facebook-OECD ““Global State of Small Business Report 2021”” IFC Micro, Small and Medium Size (MSME) Economic Indicators Database 2019; SME Finance Forum “Digitalization for Banks and SMEs: An Opportunity-Driven Change” May 2021; World Bank “The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Women-Led Businesses. Policy Research Working Paper; No. 9817.
2 Note: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2018/2019 Women’s Entrepreneurship Report, page 23