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Middlebury College

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

Argentina: Regional Integration, Development, and Social Change

Abstract

In Latin America and the Caribbean women represent 41.6% of the population active in the economy. Among those women, 15% identify as entrepreneurs. Yet even a smaller percentage are able to become high impact entrepreneurs, whose businesses reach international levels, create jobs and stimulate the economy of their regions.

The organization Endeavor is founded around the principal idea that entrepreneurship is a catalyst for economic development. Endeavor is committed to boosting the impact of entrepreneurs in emerging markets through giving them a support network of experts in their field to help expand their business. In exchange the entrepreneurs are expected to give back to the Endeavor network by offering their own expertise and advice to other endeavor entrepreneurs, which helps Endeavor reach it’s other goal of strengthening ties between entrepreneurs to create a synergy of ideas. Thirdly, Endeavor is committed to spreading the entrepreneurial spirit globally through hosting large events that showcase their entrepreneurs and celebrate their successes.

Through an extensive and highly selective process Endeavor seeks to choose the region’s most impactful entrepreneurs; the ones who could benefit most from Endeavors resources and the ones who have the most potential to create jobs and stimulate the economy. Today only 10% of entrepreneurs of that caliber selected by Endeavor Argentina are women. This study aims to discover why this gender gap is so strong. The study focuses on the potential challenges and obstacles women in Argentina face that may prevent them from being able to become the type of high impact entrepreneur that Endeavor seeks. Furthermore, this study takes a closer look at some current women entrepreneurs at Endeavor to see whether they display certain characteristics that may suggest how they were able to overcome those obstacles.

This study was conducted using a mixture of qualitative and quantitative sources, interviews with Endeavor staff and entrepreneurs, along with other primary sources. The principal conclusions were as follows: women are unable to achieve high level entrepreneurial achievement due to the type of sector they often work in, due to the fear of risk and failure they often display which inhibits actions that often can lead to success, for their tendency to work with few employees and have fewer aspirations to grow their business to an international level, for the lack of access they have to opportunities to study and work abroad, and lastly, for their limited network of connections, mentors and capital to grow their business. These disadvantages were found to be extremely linked to the role women play in society, and thus are still experienced to certain degrees by successful high-impact women entrepreneurs. That being said, these extremely successful women have been able to overcome at least some of the disadvantages to reach the level of success that has allowed them to be a part of Endeavor. These women often come from middle or upper middle class families that have connections to people in their sector, as well as access to money. Also, it is common for these women to have close ties with men: most are married, receive mentorship or financial support from men or have partnered with men to start their business. Another characteristic these women share is that they are often represented to the public as women “heroes” or abnormal people that were somehow able to overcome the difficulties of being a woman. However, is it clear that despite their “superpower” these women also must cope with the many roles that society expects from them.

Disciplines

Business | Entrepreneurial and Small Business Operations | Women's Studies

 

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