WEConnect International in The Caribbean presented preliminary results of a study being prepared with the support of Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) on March 9, 2017. Increasingly, the positive connection among women, their economic empowerment, the growth of economies, and the well-being of communities is recognised around the world. However, not enough is known about the challenges faced globally by women entrepreneurs and business owners who are trying to access new markets to grow their businesses.
“Woman business owners are facing a broad spectrum of challenges across Latin America and the Caribbean. This project will identify those obstacles, but also reveal the unique business environment in which women entrepreneurs operate in each country,” said Andrea Lizarzaburu, Regional Director for Latin America at WEConnect International. “Going forward we will be able to improve and tailor our trainings and events to fit the needs of our women’s business enterprises on the regional and on the country levels.”
“This project is generating data about women’s economic empowerment and women’s business growth in Latin America and the Caribbean to support WEConnect International’s own work and feed into evidence-based policy dialogues to enhance women entrepreneurship,” says IDRC Program Leader Arjan de Haan.
The panel discussion included presentations and engaging discussions from some of the most brilliant minds in Jamaica’s academic and corporate landscape, including WEConnect in the Caribbean’s Country Director, Mrs. Yaneek Page; Senior Lecturer at Mona School of Business and Management at University of the West Indies; Dr. Anne Crick; Chairman of Television Jamaica and Head of Decision Sciences & Information Systems the at the Mona School of Business (UWI) Dr. Lawrence Nicholson; and past president of the Young Entrepreneurs Association and CEO of C& E International Services Limited, Ms. Erica Wynter. Each presenter discussed the tenacity of women-owned businesses and the many challenges faced by women-owned businesses.
The data presented included a snapshot of more than 200 certified businesses in Latin America. These businesses generate a total of $127 million US dollars annually and an average income of $357,300 US dollars. The information collected includes industry sector, revenue, number of employees, legal incorporation status, access to lines of credit, and market focus. Preliminary research reveals the following about WEConnect International’s women-owned businesses in The Caribbean:
- The main industry sectors represented are professional services, business support, and travel & tourism.
- Most women-owned companies in The Caribbean are micro-businesses that employ less than 9 people.
- 75% of these companies make less than $250,000 USD a year.
- Only half of these companies have sought a loan from a financial institution. Only 30% have received a loan or financing.
- The average loan amount is between $10,000 and $60,000 USD.
This project builds on similar research conducted by WEConnect International in India in 2015 and leverages the significant investments made by its corporate members in the development of a searchable database of women’s business enterprises based in 100 countries including several throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The project will also strengthen research capacities of WEConnect International’s Latin American member organizations, foster peer exchange, and build a model that WEConnect International can duplicate around the world.
WEConnect International identifies, educates and certifies women’s business enterprises that are at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by one or more women, and connects them with member buyers. WEConnect International members are committed to inclusive sourcing and represent over US$1 trillion in annual purchasing power. WEConnect International supports and promotes women-owned businesses in over 100 countries. Part of Canada’s foreign affairs and development efforts, International Development Research Centre (IDRC) invests in knowledge, innovation, and solutions to improve lives and livelihoods in the developing world.