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Female entrepreneurship in Latin America - statistics & facts

The Latin American and the Caribbean region has given birth to multiple businesses and entrepreneurs, the popular ‘multilatinas’ among them. Home of unicorn companies with high market value, such as Kavak in Mexico or Rappi in Colombia, Latin America is still developping its full potential. In Mexico, the business magnate Carlos Slim, the thirteenth richest person in the world and the richest in Latin America in 2022, has a diverse list of investments and business creations. The third wealthiest person in the region was a woman, Iris Fontbona. Fontbona’s home country, Chile, had the second-highest percentage of the population involved in setting up a new business in 2020, with nearly 20 percent. A mining magnate and billionaire businesswoman, Fontbona laid the path and set high standards for the new generation of female entrepreneurs in Latin America.

Motivations to establish a business 

What has been pushing women to start new companies in a market region that is predominantly male-dominated? Many reasons may be encouraging women to start their entrepreneurial journey. The COVID-19 global pandemic brought struggles to the lives of many, especially in the financial aspect. With the massive loss of jobs and labor income in the region, necessity became a major driver for entrepreneurship. In 2021, six Latin American countries had over 81 percent of their female entrepreneurs starting a business because there were no better options of employment. Compared to the male rate, the necessity-driven entrepreneurship rate in this region was higher for women. Although the rate was not particularly high in neither Argentina nor Costa Rica, these countries registered the largest gender difference in the necessity-driven entrepreneurship rate. Naturally, other reasons might influence the decision to start a new business. In Brazil, for instance, approximately 46 percent of female start-up founders had a specialization degree, which could be an incentive to open a business in their area of knowledge. 

Overcoming barriers 

Opening a start-up is not an easy task and besides the common struggles that come with starting a new business, women also have to face predominant issues on account of their gender, for instance, when it comes to funding for their start-ups. Investment for female-founded start-ups in Latin America dropped from 14 million U.S. dollars to zero between 2019 and 2020, while male-founded start-ups exceeded 3.8 billion both years. Further, according to the gender gap index in Latin America, countries such as Uruguay, the Dominican Republic, and Brazil had scores that translated into women from these countries having approximately 30 percent fewer opportunities than men in education, the economy, health, and politics. Besides, the share of Latin American women in business leadership roles stayed below 40 percent for all countries, with the exception of Colombia. As a result of these and many more additional barriers, women are less inclined to get involved in early-stage entrepreneurial activity than their male counterparts. Although the future seems brighter and women are already making a difference, there is still a lot that needs to be changed on the road to equality in women's participation in the entrepreneurial sphere in Latin America.      

Interesting statistics

In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 21 most important statistics relating to "Female entrepreneurship in Latin America".

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