Interviews with women business leaders in Mexico and Brazil confirm importance of education, hands-on experience as foundation for entrepreneurial growth
MIAMI, June 28, 2011 — Women entrepreneurs and business leaders in Latin America cite education at an early age, hands-on work experience and advanced educational opportunities as the keys to their success, according to recent research commissioned by the FedEx Express Latin America and Caribbean division. Survey respondents consistently emphasized a number of key points, including the following: • Growing up in an environment where education and work were highly valued had a positive impact on their careers. • Extensive hands-on experience in their chosen field was vital in giving women the confidence and the skills to open their own businesses. • Continuing education is an important tool for ongoing growth in business, especially in subject areas (business management, information technology, innovation) that can directly impact entrepreneurial pursuits. The survey, based on numerous one-on-one in-depth interviews with women entrepreneurs and business leaders in Mexico and Brazil, was conducted in December 2010 and January 2011 by Ipsos Public Affairs, a leading global survey-based market research company. Information gleaned from the interviews was also compared with relevant data from other published studies on the topic of women in business in order to develop further insights. The research highlights the ‘multiplier effect’ of women in business. In particular, the respondents emphasized that education has numerous positive benefits on women that they, in turn, value and promote to their families and colleagues, thus helping develop and encourage other business women. Thus, a lifelong emphasis on developing the knowledge, skills and confidence necessary to be successful, should serve to increase the relatively small number of women who have leadership positions or entrepreneurial interests in companies. According to the World Bank, female entrepreneurship in Latin America is higher than in other regions – with 35 percent of Latin American businesses owned by women. However, the number of women remains lower than men in the business world. The average number of women in executive management positions (CEO) among the largest companies considered in the Corporate Gender Gap Report 2010 is less than five percent. The Corporate Gender Gap Report highlights that Brazil is among the countries whose companies have a greater number of women CEOs (11 percent), while in Mexico, none of the participating companies had a woman at that level. In regards to female entrepreneurs, Brazil has the largest number with 53 percent of entrepreneurs in 2009 being women. In Mexico, surveys conducted in 2008 showed that of approximately 2.2 million formal businesses, only about 15 percent were owned by women. “These fascinating findings confirm what we have long believed – that the key to business success for women in Latin America is early exposure and a lifelong commitment to education,” said Juan N. Cento, president, FedEx Express Latin America and Caribbean. “FedEx is committed to providing women and all entrepreneurs with ongoing educational opportunities, and we urge others in the private and public sectors to do likewise.” In Latin America, the school system plays a major role in the transmission of knowledge and the skills needed for the implementation of a business. A previous study commissioned by FedEx Express Latin America and Caribbean and conducted by the Economic Intelligence Unit found that quality public education coupled with innovative private sector support are vital to business sustainability and economic growth in Latin America. Approximately 80% of people with entrepreneurial training have gained the necessary skills through formal education, however over 60% of those people look for a supplement that gives them more practical and applicable knowledge. FedEx Express Latin America and Caribbean has been a longtime advocate for women in business and for entrepreneurs in the region through the implementation of its various programs. FedEx helps small and medium exporters access the global market through invitations to exclusive educational export seminars, providing strategic advice, discounts, exclusive alliances and useful information that help them compete internationally, thereby contributing to their country’s economic growth. The Junior Achievement program, supported by FedEx, recognizes the importance of education and as such has long supported the development of entrepreneurial skills. In addition, FedEx supports various initiatives that help women in business and entrepreneurs throughout the region. Continuing on the success of last year’s event, FedEx will once again support entrepreneurs through Florida International University’s Americas Venture Capital Conference. The conference will take place November 16-17 at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables and will offer emerging ventures doing business in Latin America and South Florida an extraordinary opportunity: the chance to present their plans to venture capitalists and leaders in the world of the Latin American business. For more information and to access the report of the study commissioned by FedEx, please visit http://news.van.fedex.com/intl/x4?node=17512. About FedEx Express Latin America & Caribbean FedEx Express Latin America and Caribbean division services more than 50 countries and territories throughout the region and employs more than 4,000 people committed to total customer satisfaction. FedEx Express LAC has acted as a pillar of growth for the region and continues its commitment through the FedEx PyMEx program, the first initiative to partner with small and medium exporters by offering innovative ways to access the global marketplace. About FedEx Corp. FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $39 billion, the company offers integrated business applications through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world’s most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 290,000 team members to remain “absolutely, positively” focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. For more information, visit news.fedex.com.