Enterprising mothers in Chile

8 May 2013

Almost 600 thousand Chilean women have turned entrepreneurship into their main economic activity. 87% of them are mothers and more than 270 thousand belong to the 60% sector of the population with lowest incomes. These are some of the statistics that Emprende Microfinanzas has shared during the celebration of Mother’s Day at the beginning of this month.

Chile has almost a million and a half entrepreneurs, with the sector growing basically on the grounds of women joining in the micro-business entrepreneurship. Of all micro-entrepreneurs, 580 thousand are females, a number 50% bigger than that of the year 2000 and over twice the size of the one in 1990.

Figures show that nearly 40% of all micro-entrepreneurs are women who, either being in full charge of their relatives or with an aim at contributing to the family income, find a path to improve their living standards and protect their loved ones from poverty through entrepreneurship. For them, income needs to be generated through activities that are compatible with raising children and working at home.

“We are talking about over half a million Chileans who have undertaken entrepreneurship as their main economic activity. 87% of these women are mothers, who, thanks to their entrepreneurship, are able to provide for their children and give them education, and more than 270 thousand belong to the population sector with lowest incomes” reminds Pablo Coloma, General Manager of Emprende Microfinanzas, an entity which forms part of the BBVA Microfinance Foundation group, which grants credits to micro-entrepreneurs.

Increasing women’s presence in the labour world is explained by the fact that, in the last twenty years, women from the most vulnerable segments of our society have stepped outside to work for payment. Actually, the fastest growing sector is that of self-employed women from vulnerable segments. Entrepreneurs are more often males than females, in all cases, but the smaller the micro-businesses, or the more vulnerable the self-employed workers, women’s labour and their generation of income play a bigger role.

“We can see this very clearly in Productive Microfinance activities. At Emprende, we have more than doubled our credit portfolio in the last two years. And, as we grant smaller loans, more women are seen in our branches. Today, we have over 14 thousand clients and 60% are women”.