Mexico has one of the highest levels of poverty and income inequality in the OECD, which calls for sustained efforts to strengthen social protections, reduce gender gaps and improve education. One trend that has gained momentum, especially among women, is entrepreneurship because it opens opportunities for obtaining resources, but Mexico has yet to reach the point where taking this path is entirely viable or comfortable.
According to the OECD, 44 percent of entrepreneurs in Mexico are women, with 99 percent of their projects being micro enterprises, 0.95 percent being small businesses and 0.05 percent being medium-sized businesses. Of the total number of ventures in Mexico, 50 percent or more will not make it past the five-year mark. Female entrepreneurs face further challenges, such as lower level of credit and limited financial education. Despite the challenges, Mexico has three companies with a woman as founder or co-founder that have obtained the unicorn label.
To smooth the entrepreneurship road changes have to be made, such as eliminating the gender wage gap. In the formal corporate world, the higher the rank, the fewer women and the less they earn compared to their peers, explained Maria Ariza, CEO, BIVA MX, during the second meeting of the GBM's Mexican Journalists Council. Fixing this problem is "the responsibility of decision-makers within companies," said Ariza. There is more interest in fixing this problem because investors demanding it and failure to do so hurts a company’s reputation.
If 8.2 million additional women were incorporated into the labor market, Mexico’s GDP could grow almost three times faster than the global trend, according to GBM. At the current rate, it will take 135.6 years to close the global gender gap and 267.6 years to close the gender gap for economic participation and opportunities, added the firm.
Younger generations of women have more initiative in making financial decisions: 70 percent of millennial women take part in financial decisions versus 40 percent of baby boomers.
To improve financial inclusion, it is necessary to focus on education, explained Ariza: "If we want real change, we must start at home and school." The sector should also avoid relying on quotas and focus on improving policies and practices to add women to boards and councils. Finally, women need to work together in more financial initiatives, such as "Women Investing" and "Women in Finance," explained Ariza, because "we are much stronger collectively than when acting on our own."