Peru is one of the best countries for women entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean, but better access to bank finance would help them grow their businesses and contribute much more to growth and job creation, according to the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group.
"Peru’s women are strongly entrepreneurial. And the country is a rising star when it comes to supporting women’s entrepreneurship," said MIF General Manager Nancy Lee.
"Peru has the region’s second best environment for women seeking to start and grow businesses, thanks in large part to its robust access to training compared to other Latin American countries," she was quoted as saying on IDB's website.
Lee is visiting Peru to participate in Friday’s "Women Entrepreneurs, Inclusion and the Future" conference, co-organized by the MIF and Mibanco just one day before International Women’s Day 2014.
Speakers at the event, which will bring together over 200 women entrepreneurs and business and development experts, will include Peru’s First Lady Nadine Heredia and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development.
"Peru has a dynamic economy and women entrepreneurs are helping to drive that dynamism," said Lee. "Yet too many women have not been able to fulfill their potential, follow their dreams, move out of the microenterprise sector, and take their businesses to the next level. The banking system could play a much bigger role in targeting these women as good clients. That would be a win-win-win for bank balance sheets, for women entrepreneurs, and for the Peruvian economy."
Despite the fact that Peru has a well-developed banking system, increasingly interested in targeting small business clients, women remain underserved by banks in Peru. Only a quarter of women have saved at a financial institution in the last year, and banks currently finance only about 20 percent of the working capital needs of women-owned formal small and medium enterprises, according to the Women’s Entrepreneurial Venture Scope, an index published by the MIF and the Economist Intelligence Unit last year.
Overall, according to the index’s analysis of the enabling environment for women entrepreneurs in 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Peru has the region’s second strongest overall environment for women entrepreneurs. It ranks second in the area of access to training and skills, and is above the regional average in the availability of social services like childcare.
The Women Entrepreneurs, Inclusion and the Future conference will focus on two entrepreneurial training programs for women entrepreneurs recently carried out in Peru by the MIF in partnership with Mibanco, the Australian Government, the Goldman Sachs Foundation, and the Thunderbird School of Global Management. More than 100,000 microentrepreneurs and more than 700 small business owners benefited from the training offered.
Said Lee, "We want to maximize the synergies between access to entrepreneurial training and access to finance. I am looking forward to hearing about the experiences of the women in our projects, and to discussing how the lessons we learn from them will help guide the MIF’s work to help empower women entrepreneurs, here in Peru and throughout the region."