SEATTLE, Washington — In the early 2000s Latin America’s commodity boom led to a reduction in poverty by more than 50 million people. Around 2015, the countries’ good fortunes had turned into misfortune and the market experienced a downturn. As a result, the poverty rate rose by 1% when compared to the rate in 2012. One approach to contribute to a decline is by investing in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs in Latin America are slowly making a difference for their communities.
Although there has been an increase in the inclusivity of youth and women workers, more still needs to be done. In a recent survey in Latin America, 46% of young people aged 15-29 said that they valued entrepreneurship as empowering. Girls and women aged 15 or older in Latin America continue to become increasingly involved in the labor force. As a result, many Latin American countries are beginning to outpace other regions in gender inclusivity. In fact, many of these women are now entrepreneurs. Due to the region’s untapped potential, data has shown that Latin America is a leading region to grow your business.
Investment in Women
Like most developing regions, Latin America is realizing the importance of women in the workforce. Since women make up half of the adult population, denying them the opportunity to work is detrimental to the economy. This is especially true in terms of easing poverty and inequality.
As a result of more inclusion, women feel more empowered. In turn, women gain independence to make important household decisions and help with family support. They can help create jobs, have some influence on economic development and contribute to the reduction of poverty.
Community organizations are already doing their fair share to promote women’s entrepreneurship. But in order for all women of Latin America to realize their full potential, they need more help from policymakers. Coordinator for Mujeres Pacificas Lucía León Quimbay explains, “Governments need to create favorable conditions so women can be equal to men… They need to understand that we need a different support system to men, we need special programs because we are still discriminated against.”
Peru’s Chamber of Commerce is one legislative branch that has corresponded with the Development Committee for Women Entrepreneurs. This Committee endorses the International Forum of Women Entrepreneurs: New Challenges in the World. Additionally, their emphasis is on preparation and knowledge in various areas that include marketing, ethics and leadership.
Examples of Success
Some successful entrepreneurs in Latin America include Rafael López and Leo Prieto. The former is the co-founder of Smart Box TV and one of Chilean President Sebastián Piñera’s benefactors in the tech industry. President Piñera, a self-made millionaire, encouraged people to pursue digital development ventures and initiatives.
Leo Prieto found success at the age of 16 when he launched his first internet business, ImageMaker. He sold it in 2004 and has since gone on to develop several more tech start-ups, most of which have garnered him numerous awards. In 2008 Prieto co-founded Betazeta. The Spanish web-based network is the largest of its kind in Latin America and has more than 10 million users.
Despite the high unemployment rate for Latin America’s young population, the optimism for entrepreneurship is encouraging. Furthermore, entrepreneurship has proven to be attainable for the 15-29 age group in most regions. However, in certain regions young people still face barriers to their success. For instance, funding and legislature support is a major problem.
Even so, entrepreneurs in Latin America are shedding their untapped potential image. As governments, community organizations and corporations continue to step up and provide needed resources, Latin America’s economy will flourish as they lessen poverty.
– Kim L. Patterson