Virtual network of Latin-American entrepreneurs aimed at maximizing economic autonomy and strengthening leadership

Virtual network of Latin-American entrepreneurs aimed at maximizing economic autonomy and strengthening leadership

Argentina
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Budget: 
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The aim is to influence the reality of vulnerable Latin-American women, providing entrepreneurs from several countries with the possibility to connect themselves by means of virtual means of support, training, advice and articulation with knowledge and economic and trade exchange networks in order to maximize their economic autonomy, thus providing them with advice and strengthening their entrepreneurial and management abilities, as well as their productive technologies and sustainable agriculture capacities. The aim is to achieve autonomy with equity in the region, by articulating with different sectors: research centers, cooperation agencies, universities, public entities and NGO, by means of sustainable relationships, thus improving women’s entrepreneurial development.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Latin America is one of the richest regions in the world, at the same time it is also a region with plenty inequalities. In spite of the achievements in terms of economic growth during the last 50 years, there are no signals about a reduction of social exclusion or gender inequalities. Between 1990 and 2008, female labor participation increased from 32% to 53% in Latina America and the Caribbean. At present, there are more than 100 million women within the region’s labor market. This massive introduction of women into the labor force has produced important effects in the generation of the countries’ wealth, the wellbeing of the households and the reduction of poverty. The increasing integration of the worldwide markets in terms of commerce, finance and information have created opportunities for development, thus enlarging the borders to exchange goods and services and improving companies´ competitiveness. However, the effects in terms of human development and gender equity have been unsatisfactory and unequal: more than 30% of women in the region do not generate their own income and unemployment rates are higher among young women.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

As a consequence of the deep economic crisis and high unemployment rates in Latin America, women belonging to low resources households or undergoing a vulnerable situation have generated different life strategies to improve the wellbeing of their households; these are mainly sole or associative productive or commercial self management undertakings. Some organizations provide technical and financial assistance to these undertakings. However, most of them do not apply the gender approach or the possibility to generate links among entrepreneurs from different countries. This project is aimed at strengthening these strategies of life from a gender approach, focused on empowering entrepreneurs and improving their skills on the management of sustainable productive projects. Our network has trained 389 entrepreneurs and 110 facilitators in 6 countries. A distinctive achievement would be the creation of a virtual background for this group of women and men to enlarge and strengthen their undertakings by means of training, association and information, focusing them on the generation of new employment for young women who have the highest unemployment rates in the region. Likewise our project incorporates ICTs in all processes, including the use of telephone centers as a tool to facilitate socio labor inclusion.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Main activities: • Development of a virtual community of Latin-American entrepreneurs to share information and best practices, by providing support to them aimed at creating new market alternatives and by stimulating the exchange of information on products and/or services. • Training of local trainers on virtual or attendance modes. • Exchange forums • Products and/or services samples • Projects’ bank and spreading of financing sources in each sector and region. • Communicate successful experiences of women who have developed projects, by spreading their projects on the web page, blogs to highlight their achievements. • Promotion of advocacy campaigns with women’s´ networks and associations within the purpose of reaching stable agreements with different sectors: Chambers, Trade Associations, and Public sector entities responsible for setting up policies. • Update seminars and conferences that enable the exchange with different women’s organizations and with individuals responsible for the execution of public policies, associations, trade chambers, banks and civil society organizations both in countries within and outside the region in order to guarantee and effective and coherent mobilization with the government, ministries of economy, finance and trade and international organizations.
About You
Organization:
Red de Mujeres Latinoamericanas y del Caribe en Gestión de Organizaciones
About You
First Name

Solange

Last Name

Grandjean

About Your Organization
Organization Name

Red de Mujeres Latinoamericanas y del Caribe en Gestión de Organizaciones

Organization Country

, C

Country where this project is creating social impact

, B

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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Innovation
What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

The Network was created in 1997 when 25 leading women from 17 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean were trained on organizational management sponsored by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency ASDI in the University of Lulea Sweden. A group of participants to this training committed themselves to continue exchanging professional experiences, spreading the knowledge obtained to other women in their countries, promoting the strengthening of the existing women organizations and stimulating the participation of women in the socio, economic and political development of the countries in the region. As from that moment the Network has turned into the meeting and reflection point as well as a space for exchanging ideas and experiences among women and men who work and study the social problems from a gender perspective, by promoting equality and equity in the internal relationships of all the existing organizations forms in Latin-American and the Caribbean.

The Network has focused its strategies and activities in the following fields:
• Strengthening of organizational skills
• Womens´empowerment to achieve a better economic autonomy and skills to properly manage their micro undertaking
• Creation of women organizations whose management is focused on a gender approach.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

The Impact of the Network in terms of education to women aimed at a successful management of their undertakings can be assessed by the multiplying effect achieved by attendance to these programs of Latin-American women and men. This program was executed in 2005-2006 working jointly with local counterparts (mainly Women’s NGOs) from 6 countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru, Panama and Uruguay. A time before the program was executed 15-20 leading women from local communities were trained, in each country, so that they could afterwards act as “facilitators”. These women replicated their experience in acquiring knowledge and passed them to other women (groups between 20 and 30); workshops addressed to Enterprising Women and or grassroots leaders were carried out in each country to support their micro undertakings initiatives by providing them with management tools with a gender approach. The Network uses Information and Communication Technologies ICTs mainly “E-learning to transmit conceptual or methodological organizational management education with a gender approach. Throughout 2005-2009, 456 people from 26 countries have attended E-learning workshops on Organizations’ Leadership and management with a gender approach delivered by the Network

How many people have been impacted by your project?

101-1,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

101- 1,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

It will evolve by strengthening management skills in the already trained women and by increasing the coverage with new enterprising women, by way of the focal points of these 6 countries and by summoning new countries. By stimulating the participation in economy’s non traditional sectors (design, technology and all that implying added value) and the articulation with different organizations such as Chambers of Commerce, international organization promoting small and medium-sized enterprises and regional trade networks, which will allow promoting and supporting the creations of bonds and efficient partnerships through the virtual Network.

Sustainability
What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

The main barrier may be the computing skills of the enterprising women mainly those belonging to rural sectors, which would limit their participation in the virtual community developed by the project. This can be dealt with partnerships with telephone centers, local organization supporting small and medium sized companies, as well as Local development Agencies related to the project supporting basic training in Communication and Information Technologies provided by the Network
This also contributes to empower enterprising women and their visibility. Other may be cultural barriers and the enterprising women’s own limits in having access to the resources and assistance intended for their undertakings. It is precisely on these aspects that the Network serves as a link to overcome gender barriers and be incorporated in the global trade networks. Training on partnerships provided by the project also helps to overcome these problems.
Another problem is the limited time that women can devote to their own training, set up and maintenance of contact networks. This fact could evolve in a lower effective use of the overall program and these could be faced by means of a continuous follow-up on their members by the Network as an essential part of its operation.

Tell us about your partnerships

Our partners are Red Puna and Quebrada-Argentina, Centro Gregoria Apaza-Bolivia, Fundación Carvajal-Colombia, Fundación Visión Cristiana-Panamá, Fundación Visión-Perú and Centro de Negocios de la Mujer-Uruguay. Universities such as Universidad Nacional de Luján, Universidad de Belgrano, CEBEM, Universidad Javeriana and other NGOs I-Know Politics, Women’s Forum, Ayuda en Acción, Red de Mujeres para el desarrollo, ACB (Asoc. de Concejalas de Bolivia) and Muévete por la Igualdad.
We have been in contact with UNEM (Urban Entrepreneurs Association)-Argentina, Uruguay´s Rural Women´s Association, Coordinadora Sur Andina de Artesanías-Perú and Colectivo Cabildeo-Bolivia.
In order to guarantee the sustainability and continuity of the results of this association that supports the economic empowerment of women in Latin America and the Caribbean. All the mechanisms and procedures that were used to reach the network self financing will be applied and extended as well as those aimed at achieving the financing autonomy in the medium term.
Funds requested to Ashoka will undoubtedly consolidate the already obtained results and will provide the conditions for the continuity of the program in and independent manner in the future, thus generating a high impact in terms of women’s empowerment and facilitating change that gives way to development. After the effective implementation of the virtual platform the plan is to charge in return for the services and seek for companies' sponsoring. We also continue generating partnerships and permanent dissemination through our web page and newsletter.

Explain your selections

Other: International Cooperation, voluntary support to network members and other institutions that contribute with advice and know how.
Foundations and NGOs provide specialized staff, infrastructure and logistic in each country for the different activities.
International cooperation, through ASDI, we have received funds to develop these two attendance and virtual training projects for 6 years (1999-2005) which were used to pay the experts’ fees to develop the educational material and platform.
Members pay an annual fee that is also added to the Budget. Members provide the network with their knowledge and expertise sometimes in a voluntary manner and others as remunerated consultants

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

We plan to strengthen the project by developing new alliances and with the contribution of new public and private institutions. We are developing new alliances with the Center of Social Economy of the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina), Uruguay’s Rural Women Association. Asociación de Concejalas and Colectivo Cabildeo de Bolivia, Comite Artesanal Viva el Perú and Coordinadora Sur Andina de Artesanías.
We are outlining an Alliance with an NGO in Colombia and have contact and work with 6 NGOs with which we started the first part of the micro entrepreneurs program in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Panama, Peru and Uruguay, jointly with education centers with different academic institutions and universities.

Challenges
Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.

PRIMARY

Lack of skills/training

SECONDARY

Lack of access to information and networks

TERTIARY

Lack of visibility and investment

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

The innovation through the incorporation of technology and online access to different sectors may contribute to neutralize the lack of access and information and the lack of visibility. Virtual training contributes to overcome the barriers related to the lack of association and network formation and the access to possible sources of financing and investment.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.

PRIMARY

Leveraged technology

SECONDARY

Grown geographic reach: Multi-country

TERTIARY

Enhanced existing impact through addition of complementary services

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

At present we are working and extending the impact of our work through our website 2.0 and a monthly Newsletter that reaches over 5500 people. Likewise by means of the development of virtual forums of exchange and use of technology through the virtual educational platforms created for these courses.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

Technology providers, NGOs/Nonprofits, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

The collaboration with the different institutions enabled the incorporation of innovative criteria and methodologies to develop new educational products and services, for example the incorporation of the gender perspective to training programs and virtual development of new practices to use management approaches. By means of technology we were able to provide training to people in the whole Latin American and Caribbean region and to set up a wide network of women and men who were trained as trainers and micro entrepreneurs applying a gender approach. NGOs enable us to carry out a field work with entrepreneurs from 6 countries and universities provided us with the institutional support to reach other type of audience.