Expert views

Digitalization: An ally of businesswomen in Latin America

15 December 2021
Anwar Suárez, Project Manager for Latin America, FUNDES Mexico

Digitalization is a great opportunity to strengthen the business capabilities of Latin-American women.


© Shutterstock
© Shutterstock

When small businesses led by women incorporate digital solutions, they obtain higher income, reduce costs, and provide better value. However, Latin-American women face several challenges when they adopt digital strategies for their business. Some of these relate to gender inequalities.

In Latin America, less than 40% of people possess basic computer knowledge, such as how to copy a file or send an e-mail.

Finding time to learn these, and other, digital skills is difficult for women who, in some countries of the region, spend twice as much time as men on unpaid care and domestic work.

Developing digital skills for women entrepreneurs


Digitalization has the potential to unlock women's competitiveness, not only by connecting them to new markets, but also by making management more cost-efficient. Digital technologies can help women improve financial autonomy, which not only helps their economic and social situations but can even, in some cases, reduce domestic violence.

For these reasons, at FUNDES, a specialized consultancy with more than 35 years of experience promoting the stronger small businesses in Latin America, we consider it important to contribute to developing digital skills for women entrepreneurs. For us, it is necessary to truly understand their needs, goals, and specific challenges to offer them effective, practical, and easy solutions.

In collaboration with the International Trade Centre’s project SheTrades and UPS Foundation, FUNDES supports Mexican women owners of small businesses in traditional sectors in acquiring digital skills for participating in the digital economy, which transforms their businesses, and thus, their lives.

During the three webinars we offered, more than 240 businesswomen improved their skills. In addition, 25 women-owned businesses participated in 16 personalized virtual coaching sessions over a period of three months. Through the programme, the participants created 25 digital strategy manuals to increase their sales and improve their business models. 

Most of FUNDES' projects consist of a digital component and a gender perspective for the empowerment, employment, and entrepreneurship of the Latin American population. For example, Women with Purpose is a joint initiative with PepsiCo Latam that transmits technical knowledge on entrepreneurship through a digital platform and virtual workshops while supporting the personal development of 12,000 participants in eight countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile , Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Uruguay and Venezuela).

Joining forces for better results during COVID-19


The current COVID-19 crisis made it clear that it is necessary to join forces to overcome common challenges. It is crucial for governments, the private sector, and organizations to develop collaborative actions such as SheTrades and Women with Purpose, to promote both the digital transformation of businesses and the incorporation of women in entrepreneurship.

If all actors of a society worked together to encourage women-owned businesses, this would not only boost the economic activity of small businesses, but also contribute to achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals such as gender equality, poverty reduction, and decent work and economic growth.

At FUNDES, our ambition is to leverage digitalization to release the full potential of entrepreneurs, particularly women, working in traditional sectors such as corner shops, beaty salons, artisanal crafts, or in food services, etc. This would fuel the economic recovery of the whole region.

Nobody should be left behind in the digitalization process. Technological development should welcome everyone, and at FUNDES we are working, side by side with other actors, to make this aspiration possible.