Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, Mexico

Unleashing the potential of marginalised women entrepreneurs in the Oaxaca State

Being a woman entrepreneur in Mexico is not an easy business. Poor economic conditions and the absence of enterprise development services limit women’s possibility to gain skills to effectively manage their businesses. Gender norms in the region add an additional layer of complexity. Women are often left solely responsible for managing their households and children, have limited decision-making power and are frequently excluded from the networks and opportunities available to their male competitors. This leaves them exposed to exploitation by intermediaries and has an impact on their confidence. 

And yet, a needs assessment conducted by Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and its local partner Solidaridad Internacional Kanda (SiKanda) in 2018 confirmed that entrepreneurship has a crucial role to play in the livelihoods of this population – especially for women. Running a business allows women the autonomy and flexibility to decide where, how and when they work, enabling them to combine their ongoing roles as caregivers with an income generating activity. Women see their businesses as an opportunity to improve their situation and the future of their children; their desire is to grow, improve efficiency and increase sales.

We are partnering with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women on the project “Mujeres A.V.E.”* that aims to strengthen women’s capabilities to manage their business and improve the livelihoods of their families. The programme will be implemented in the Municipality of Villa de Zaachila, a particularly marginalised area of the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. Here, two thirds of the population live in poverty and proximity with one of the largest landfill in the state has enormous socio-environmental consequences on the local community.

The thriving informal economy in Oaxaca offers many opportunities for growth, but women from this community lack access to the skills, knowledge, networks and capital that will enable their businesses to prosper. The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and its local partner Solidaridad Internacional Kanda will offer a holistic business strengthening programme to 300 women who are running micro-enterprises.

“Mujeres A.V.E.” will cut across sectors and services, drawing together the essential resources that women entrepreneurs need to realise their full potential, but often struggle to access. The services will include in-depth guidance and support, business management, tailored training, coaching, counselling, networking opportunities and childcare services. Engagement with male relatives and gender equality awareness sessions will also help to tackle the more personal barriers that may be affecting women’s business performance.

To ensure the continuity of its business support services, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women will create a permanent “one-stop-shop” where tailored business support will continue to be offered to the local enterprising community.

We are thrilled to embark on this new partnership with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, whose extensive experience in women’s social and economic empowerment will prove crucial to unlocking the potential of female entrepreneurship and creating a prosperous future for the local community.

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*The name Mujeres A.V.E was selected by the women entrepreneurs participating in the programme. "Mujeres" means "women" in Spanish and A.V.E stands for “Actuando, Vinculando and Emprendiendo” or acting, connecting, entrepreneurial. The name reflects how the project will bring women together and encapsulates, for the entrepreneurs themselves, the true nature of entrepreneurship.

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