LatinaLista — According to the Small Business Administration, women-owned businesses are the fastest-growing segment of new businesses in the U.S. economy. An American Express analysis found that the number of women-owned businesses grew over the past year by 200,000, equivalent to almost 550 new women-owned firms being created each day.
The surge in women entrepreneurs is hardly a US phenomenon. Women in Latin America have long been creating businesses. Some analysts even see growth in Latin America hinging on women business leaders.
Whether it is indigenous women creating handmade products as part of a co-op or urban women seizing the helm of multimillion dollar companies, female entrepreneurialism exists in Latin America.
What doesn’t always exist are social conditions that help women achieve their business dreams.
For the first time, the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) has compiled an online tool ranking which Latin American countries offer the best environment for women entrepreneurs.
Dubbed the The Women’s Entrepreneurial VentureScope or WEVentureScope, the index rated 20 countries for five specific categories: Security and Stability, Business Climate, Finance, Capacity and Social Services.
Chile, Peru, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay were the top 5 (in that order) when it came to supporting women entrepreneurs. The bottom three countries that were assessed at doing a poor job of helping women were: Jamaica (20), Paraguay (19), and a tie between Venezuela and El Salvador.
The WEVentureScope allows users to compare, chart and explore more deeply the countries on the list. For example, while the analysis found the top 5 countries excelling in all the categories, the report’s authors found that some other countries were doing outstanding work in some categories.
El Salvador offers strong support for entrepreneurs, particularly through a favorable tax system. Women in Mexico enjoy some of the best access to finance in the region. Brazil performs well in measures of childcare and elderly care.
Costa Rica, at number six, was the highest-rated Central American country, thanks to its low business operating risks and the availability of capacity and skills training for businesswomen. Trinidad and Tobago, at number eight, was the highest-rated Caribbean country, owing to its high education levels and good access to finance for women entrepreneurs.
A side observation of the index found that those countries that did provide supportive environments for women entrepreneurs also did better at building competitive economies — a must as South America strives to reach its potential in a global economy.