E-Commerce: A Mechanism for Female Empowerment
Economic contraction, remote schooling and delegated homemaking responsibilities disproportionally pushed women out of the labor market during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a market with considerable barriers to entry, e-commerce provides the flexibility for female entrepreneurs to find economic empowerment.
E-commerce can be "a source of economic empowerment for women in Mexico, since it can contribute to improving the quality of life of businesswomen with the objective of reducing the inequality of opportunities,” said Erika Vargas, Director of Community Relations, UPS Latin America.
The challenges engendered by the COVID-19 pandemic have come to compound poor working conditions further limiting female workforce participation. If gone unaddressed, this predicament could hinder Mexico’s long-term economic potential. If addressed, female participation in the workforce could swell the country’s GDP by three times by 2030, according to the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (IMCO). Nevertheless, unlearning the social constructs and dismantling the institutional barriers that created these circumstances will take time.
Until then, even in the present circumstances, women can still find financial empowerment through e-commerce entrepreneurship. Unlike traditional brick and mortar establishments that require large investments and market reach is limited to their physical proximity, e-commerce allows entrepreneurs to manage and potentially sell their products to domestic and international clients from the comfort of their home. The market potential of e-commerce is further augmented by marketplaces, an increasingly favored way to reach consumers.
Already, over 40 percent of companies that sell on Amazon Mexico are founded or led by women, according to Renata Arvizu, Marketplace Leader, Amazon Mexico. This figure resonates with findings that 36 percent of small and medium-sized businesses in the country are owned by women, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI). The task in an increasingly digital world is educating and promoting greater female entrepreneurship in digital spaces, an objective that spokeswomen for UPS and Amazon want to foment.
In partnership with more than 120 companies, UPS wants to connect millions of female entrepreneurs throughout the Latin American market and ultimately with the international market, which will require digital tools and knowhow for exports. For that reason, the company is promoting the launch of the Women Exporter program, which expands an ecosystem of integrated solutions to help empower women through commerce. Women will also be able to recur to informational webinars and personalized advice to address logistical challenges and identify market opportunities.