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Mastercard and USAID partner to launch ‘Start Path Empodera’, a business accelerator supporting Colombia’s female entrepreneurs

By Pavithra R

January 22, 2021

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Mastercard and USAID partner to launch ‘Start Path Empodera’, a business accelerator supporting Colombia’s female entrepreneursMastercard and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced a new collaboration under the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative to launch Start Path Empodera, a business accelerator focused on promoting womenʼs entrepreneurship and financial inclusion in Colombia.

Start Path Empodera aims to provide Colombia’s women tech entrepreneurs with access to leadership development and network-building support, mentorship, and technical assistance, creating a more level playing field and unleash the full potential of the country’s next generation of women leaders. The program also intends to leave a lasting impact on the broader communities across Colombia in which the entrepreneurs live and work.

“Through Start Path Empodera, Mastercard seeks to provide our Start Path award-winning global model, expertise and brand to stimulate the growth and sustainability of early-stage female entrepreneurs who are focused on solving problems that require unique technology, target a large market with potential for high growth and have a repeatable business model. We will engage women entrepreneurs and share access to networks, help them develop critical skills, and ultimately help these women not only succeed for themselves but also serve as beacons for other female entrepreneurs,” said Kiki Del Valle, Executive VP of Market Development for Latin America.

“Supporting women, supporting their businesses is integrally related to driving economic growth for the communities in which they operate. By making women economically resilient, we’re building effective catalysts for Colombia in the long-run,” added del Valle.

Women entrepreneurs often lack access to capital, markets, networks, training and mentorship opportunities. There is roughly a $300 bn credit gap for women-owned SMEs globally, indicating not only gender-based inequality but an abundance of opportunity for new investment and economic growth. Effective solutions to closing this gender gap require public and private sector collaborations to provide training and assistance as well as to help women entrepreneurs achieve economies of scale.

Start Path Empodera is designed for women entrepreneurs leading Colombia-based companies in one of the following areas:

  • Scaling FinTech solutions – Leveraging innovative tech solutions to enhance the access and use of digital financial services
  • Driving financial inclusion – Increasing digital financial literacy and access to digital financial services, across any sector or application
  • Scaling commerce – Digitizing and optimizing the buying and selling of goods and services, across any sector, retail or online

“Under W-GDP, this partnership between USAID and Mastercard is an optimal example of how the U.S. Government’s collaboration with the private sector can create innovative opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship and achieve sustainable development outcomes. Start Path Empodera will help equip Colombia’s women entrepreneurs with the networks and support they need to unlock their highest potential, generating ripple effects of empowerment and economic mobility in their families, communities, country, and beyond,” said USAID/Colombia Deputy Mission Director Martha Aponte.

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