A chance at entrepreneurship for vulnerable women in Bolivia

Bolivia is one of Latin America’s poorest countries with 60 percent of its 12 million people living below the poverty line, and 37 percent living in conditions of extreme poverty.

Women make up a large part of these percentages.They lack training and skills, and if they do have jobs they are often taken advantage of, or worse sexually exploited.

For more than 10 years the Good Shepherd Sisters Levantate Mujer Foundation has been working to help women in the region. They oversee and run a series of projects and initiatives in the areas of prevention of violence against women, prevention of human trafficking, care for people living with HIV/AIDS and economic inclusion of the most marginalized.

The Foundation, which currently runs centers in La Paz, El Alto, Sucre, Santa Cruz and Oruro, also strives to change the unjust structures of society through political advocacy and participation in a number of government and non-government organizations.

Now thanks to international donor Misean Cara, the Foundation is launching its latest project “Business Incubators for Vulnerable Women in Sucre, El Alto and Oruro.” The project, which will get underway later in 2015, will include the establishment of incubators with a wide range of activities aimed at empowering women through skills training, leadership development and support for enterprise creation and self-employment.

The women who will take part in the project will be recruited among the following groups: those currently and formerly served by the GSS anti-domestic violence center in El Alto,
 those participating in the vulnerable children support project in El Alto, 
those involved in the children sponsorship project in Sucre, 
migrant women from rural areas and other women with low income/skill levels interested in increasing their income by starting their own business.

The project will tackle many issues, including:

Justice and Human Rights. This is one of the most important issues that will be addressed by this project. The effects of poverty are insidious and cause social exclusion, as well as malnutrition, poor health, unemployment, illiteracy and homelessness. By giving women the tools to have economic autonomy, this project will work to make society more equal and just.

HIV and AIDS. The target group does not specifically consist of women with HIV/ AIDS, but these women can participate as well. If they do participate they will be assisted because their income will increase and therefore they can access better medical care.

Gender Equality. The project will achieve gender equality through economic justice and women empowerment through entrepreneurship. The project will help women to become leaders and advocate for more inclusive policies at the local and national level.

Environment. During the project’s execution there will be a focus on reducing the environmental impact of their businesses. The women will be encouraged to look for eco-friendly raw materials, use non-disposable items and recycle.

This new project is so important because it will help build a more just and equitable Bolivian society where women are socially included and economically empowered. They will be able to contribute to the improvement of their living conditions and their families, as well as reduce the gender gap in the local labor market.

To learn more about this project and how to help click here and you can also donate directly here.