“Investing in women is not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson said recently in a blog post.
“When women are able to take advantage of economic opportunities, they reinvest more of their earned income than men in the health and education of their families. This increases the human capital of their communities and creates the foundation for long-term, diversified, and inclusive economic growth.”
Former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer hosted an event in February 2013 at the Department of State to announce 25 grants for organizations in 15 Latin American and Caribbean countries, as part of the Women's Entrepreneurship in the Americas initiative to support economic empowerment for women-owned businesses in the Western Hemisphere.
“We call them ‘small grants’ because they range from $20,000 to $60,000 each,” Assistant Secretary Jacobson said. But grant recipient Yaneek Page of Women Entrepreneurs Network Caribbean commented that "it may be counted as a small grant, but it will have huge impact." Yaneek Page explained the difficulties Caribbean women entrepreneurs face in finding successful business mentors, as networks are fragmented across several islands. Finding a mentor, she said, "is the difference between success and failure."
The Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Americas initiative was launched at the Summit of the Americas in April 2012, and leverages public-private partnerships to increase women’s economic participation and address three barriers women confront in starting and growing Small and medium enterprises: access to training and networks, access to markets, and access to finance.
“Meeting the grantees was the most rewarding part of the event,” Assistant Secretary Jacobson said. “Inspirational women like Maria Pacheco and the other 24 grantees are making an impact on their families, communities, and countries as they work toward greater economic empowerment for women. Their ingenuity and drive for success create a better future for us all.”