The International Finance Corporation (IFC), part of the World Bank Group, conducted a study on the business challenges that exist in accessing credit in the region. Likewise, analyze its impact on access to more jobs, the promotion of economic growth, its benefit to the financial industry and the increase in the participation of women in companies.
Perspective. The study carried out after the pandemic interviewed women and men entrepreneurs, employees and men in a dependent relationship. This with the objective of identifying gaps in access to financing.
In addition, we sought to characterize the female entrepreneur or employee in Central America and recognize their needs and challenges in the industry. It was recorded that more than 63,000 businesses in Central America belong to women. This is equivalent to 20% of small and medium-sized businesses in the region. This increase occurred between 2021 and 2019, where its participation increased to 22% within the economically active population (EAP).
Data. The IFC research, in addition to looking at the role of women in companies, demonstrated the change in the demand for credit for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). Where an increase was found in Central America around $5,147 million.
El Salvador has a credit need of $829 million. A figure similar to that of Panama with $831.3. The country with the smallest amount of credit recorded is Honduras with $231.9 million; Nicaragua follows with $398.2, and Costa Rica with $407.8. Costa Rica leads with a credit need of $1,289.3 and Guatemala follows with $1,160.2.
Businesses. In 2019, a gap in access to financing developed in the Latin American region that interested the IFC, in which the findings of women entrepreneurs in the region were sought.
95% of the women surveyed see themselves as persistent, resilient and capable of overcoming all business obstacles. The study highlights that an SME run by a woman has more than twice as many women employees. Compared to companies led by men. It was revealed that businesswomen invest in guaranteeing family stability. 61% of them consider family emergencies the main reason now. While 40% prioritize these savings for businesses.
You. José Etchegoyen, IFC Gender Finance specialist, explains the impact of women and the different ways in which they lead a company. In addition, the obstacles that arise when acquiring credit, with a special focus on women entrepreneurs.
“Women are better payers than men and that must be recognized in better terms. We see it in all the markets where we operate.” “It’s not just about, again, giving her money to grow her business, but supporting her so that that business grows solidly, in a more orderly way.” “Our services are aligned with that, because women are clients who must be understood and offered products that adapt to their special needs.”
Difficulties. There are a variety of obstacles faced by SMEs in Central America. These include high costs, cumbersome processes, excessive requirements and lack of information.
The study identified a need, common among the countries of the region, for achievable requirements so that the entrepreneur can open an account or acquire credit. Among the responses of those interviewed, many agreed on the problem of bureaucracy. In that less paperwork and requirements would simplify the process. On the other hand, digitalization plays an important role in the changes after the pandemic. Previously, SME banking worked with paper, however, technological updates now allow documents to be delivered remotely.
*With information from El Economista.
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