Caribbean women entrepreneurs are stepping up to the plate

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO — Caribbean women are taking the lead in entrepreneurship, according to speakers at the 2021 Women Economic Forum (WEF) Caribbean.

Contrary to a United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) report that projected women in Latin America and the Caribbean may not return to the workforce after pandemic-related job losses, WEF contributors suggested that not only does the opposite appear to be true, but women entrepreneurs are also outperforming their male counterparts.

Shila Nieves Burney, general partner at Zane Venture Fund, said, “We’re not seeing this upward trajectory of women deciding not to return to the workforce after COVID. It sort of disrupted their lives. They’re like, ‘Well, I can do something to solve this. I’ll create a company where I can make it work around my lifestyle and then still be able to have all of these other things.’”

She added, “We’re starting businesses at record numbers and apparently we’re now starting more businesses at the rate verses men who are now coming and starting new enterprises.

“So, I say just look at the numbers — the data backs up the fact that women entrepreneurs just perform better than their male counterparts.”

Nieves Burney’s assertion was supported by comments from Davinia Bain, executive director of The Bahamas’ Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre.

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    “When we look at the data from our almost 2,000 funded clients to date,” Bain said, “while, per business, the male-ran businesses are actually generating more revenue than female-ran businesses, in totality, for each employee employed in a female-ran business, they produce much more per unit in sales.

    “So, for example, the women are using their human resources seemingly better than the men are in The Bahamas for the output of increased sales… We’re finding that the female businesses are having that balance where they produce great sales per unit of employee in their business.”

    Technology Consultant at Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust Shirley McPhaul opined that “women make good entrepreneurs because we have that insight in a market that was ignored for a really long time”.

    “Now we’re starting to see a lot of products that are being made by women to fix problems that women have,” she said.

    “As more female entrepreneurs come into the market, we’re starting to see more and more products that are just better, they’re higher quality and they work for us.”

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    United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean “Recovery Paradox in Latin America and the Caribbean” —

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