Unleashing the potential of marginalised women entrepreneurs in the Oaxaca State


Being a woman entrepreneur in Mexico is not an easy business. Poor economic conditions and the absence of enterprise development services limit women’s possibility to gain skills to effectively manage their businesses. Gender norms in the region add an additional layer of complexity. Women are often left solely responsible for managing their households and children, have limited decision-making power and are frequently excluded from the networks and opportunities available to their male competitors. This leaves them exposed to exploitation by intermediaries and has an impact on their confidence.


And yet, a needs assessment conducted by Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and its local partner Solidaridad Internacional Kanda (SiKanda) in 2018 confirmed that entrepreneurship has a crucial role to play in the livelihoods of this population – especially for women. Running a business allows women the autonomy and flexibility to decide where, how and when they work, enabling them to combine their ongoing roles as caregivers with an income generating activity. Women see their businesses as an opportunity to improve their situation and the future of their children; their desire is to grow, improve efficiency and increase sales.


We are partnering with SiKanda on the project “Mujeres A.V.E.”* that aims to strengthen women’s capabilities to manage their business and improve the livelihoods of their families. The programme is implemented in the Municipality of Villa de Zaachila, a particularly marginalised area of the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. There, two thirds of the population live in poverty and proximity with one of the largest landfill in the state has enormous socio-environmental consequences on the local community.


The thriving informal economy in Oaxaca offers many opportunities for growth, but women from this community lack access to the knowledge, networks and capital that enable their businesses to prosper. SiKanda is offering a holistic business strengthening programme to local women who are running micro-enterprises. To ensure the continuity of its business support services, a permanent “one-stop-shop” offers tailored business support to the local enterprising community.


“Mujeres A.V.E.” cuts across sectors and services, drawing together the essential resources that women entrepreneurs need to realise their full potential, but often struggle to access. The services include in-depth guidance and support, business management, tailored training, coaching, counselling, networking opportunities and childcare services.


Engagement with male relatives and gender equality awareness sessions also help to tackle the more personal barriers that may be affecting women’s business performance.


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One-year grant (2022-2023)


*The name Mujeres A.V.E was selected by the women entrepreneurs participating in the programme. “Mujeres” means “women” in Spanish and A.V.E stands for “Actuando, Vinculando and Emprendiendo” or acting, connecting, entrepreneurial. The name reflects how the project will bring women together and encapsulates, for the entrepreneurs themselves, the true nature of entrepreneurship.


women completed the training in 2021


small enterprises supported

Other partnerships in the same area of work