INCAE launches study on Gender and Entrepreneurship in Latin America

09 de Enero 2018

A team of INCAE faculty members and researchers conducted the 2017 Study on Gender and Entrepreneurship in Latin America and its Role in Economic Development. The study aimed to identify obstacles and factors governing women’s entrepreneurial endeavors and to help design training programs and appropriate stimuli systems to promote their success. The study data were collected through a survey conducted among 342 entrepreneurs from 15 Latin American countries.

The research was led by Dr. Camelia Ilie-Cardoza, Dean of INCAE and Chair of the Center for Collaborative and Women's Leadership, and Dr. Guillermo Cardoza, Full Professor of INCAE, with support from Andrés Fernández y Haydée Tejada from INCAE.

To publicize the study, an event was held last November 29 in Miami to address current issues and challenges, with presentations made by Dr. Ilie and Dr. Cardoza. The event concluded with a high level panel, attended by multisectoral leaders including Gabriel Balzaretti, Mastercard Director for Central America; Mayu Brizuela de Ávila, first female Foreign Minister in Central America, first female president of a private bank in El Salvador and a key leader in the region; Luis Torres, Vice-President of Global Talent Management at Millicom; and Economist Felicia Knaul, Chairwoman of Asociación para América Latina de Mujeres con Cáncer. CNN en Español anchor of Portafolio Global Gabriela Frías served as moderator.

Gender discrimination in Latin American societies significantly cuts down effective participation of women in developing new businesses, thus hindering their chances of career progress and restricting development opportunities for their families. Even worse, inequality prevents women from efficiently contributing to the development of business countries in the region.

A very important fact taken into account in this research was a positive correlation between the performance of the entrepreneurship index and wealth generation. In other words, greater entrepreneurial activity leads to greater economic growth. That finding resulted from a comparison of the Gross Domestic Product and the Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI) of leading countries around the world and those of Latin American countries.

"The results in the study point out that, in order to empower women's enterprises, more specific business training programs must be developed for entrepreneurs, together with professional mentoring services and better financing systems. Also, more diverse management teams including a larger number of men will help women entrepreneurs improve their diagnostic capacity, design better strategies, manage risk more efficiently, accelerate the pace of process innovation, and incorporate new technologies more efficiently. Research largely reinforces the focus on collaborative leadership INCAE has been engaging in over the last few years," added Dr. Camelia Ilie-Cardoza.

In the "2017 Report on Entrepreneurship and Gender in Latin America and its Role in Economic Development", the following recommendations are made to take action in relation to this issue:

• The results of the study summarized in the report provide greater clarity about the differences between female and male entrepreneurship in Latin America. This understanding allows us to address, from a gender perspective, the design of more efficient public and corporate policies to promote entrepreneurship in the region. The research findings allow us to consider specific conditions and barriers hindering support to entrepreneurial talent and delaying economic growth in Latin America based on an equitable, sustainable model.

• The study shows major differences in the perceptions and results of entrepreneurial activities conducted by women and men. First of all, 22.7% of women entrepreneurs surveyed are either divorced or separated, as opposed to 7.9% of men. Only 59% of women entrepreneurs in Latin America have business education, against 70% of men. Finally, 27.8% of women have suffered some type of gender discrimination while doing business, and 50.6% of them do not think that men and women have equal entrepreneurship opportunities.

• The study draws attention to another major cultural feature of Latin American societies negatively impacting female entrepreneurship. Respondents stated that marriage is perceived in their cultures as an effective mechanism for women to achieve economic stability. This highlights the macho ideology still prevalent in large sections of the population and reveals the low self-esteem and self-confidence many women experience, which translates into barriers to meeting the challenge of being economically independent and contributing to the economies of their countries.

• The results of this study indicate that a combination of public and private policies and support systems positively impacts business creation and SMEs growth in the region. Although the research stresses gender perspective, in the end it all comes down to efficiently mobilizing the resources available in a society to grow equitably and inclusively. Thus, the discussion in the region must place the debate on gender equity within the framework of reflection on sustainable development models.

About the INCAE Business School - CNN en Español Partnership

Last May 22, INCAE and CNN en Español officially established a partnership to address critical issues in Latin America. This research, led by Senior CLACDS Researcher Jaime García, is being used, distributed and reproduced by CNN en Español and covering impact issues such as Renewable Energy, Sustainable/Intelligent Cities and Exponential Technologies. The two studies chosen by CNN to launch by year end are Entrepreneurship of Women in Latin America and their Role in Economic Development, jointly led by Dr. Camelia Ilie-Cardoza and Dr. Guillermo Cardoza, and Social Progress of Women, led by Dr. Camelia Ilie-Cardoza, Dean of INCAE and Chair of the Center for Collaborative and Women's Leadership, Senior CLACDS Researcher Jaime García, and Dr. Guillermo Cardoza, Full Professor of INCAE.

CNN en Español - Contact:

Mariana Piñango, Latin America –
Isabel Bucaram, USA –
Javier Merino, Mexico –

INCAE Business School - Contact:
Karola Fonseca, Nicaragua –
Magda Montiel, Nicaragua –