Women Entrepreneurs in Peru

Women Entrepreneurs in Peru

Last week I had the opportunity to speak to an amazing group of Peruvian women in Lima, Peru. The intent of this event (Empresarias en Acción 2018: DreamBuilder – Ella Exporta) sponsored by the US Embassy In Peru PromPeru and Dreambuilder in conjunction with Thunderbird for Good, was to bring together highly motivated women entrepreneurs to enable them to build networks across Peru and continue their learnings so they can grow and scale their businesses.

These women, from all over Peru, are entrepreneurs in various stages of starting their own businesses and are recent graduates of the Dreambuilder Program. Most notable, is that almost ALL of them are mothers. Yes, their reasons for starting businesses may vary, but they are all aligned in that each of them have deep and meaningful reasons for why becoming financially independent and business literate is extremely important to themselves and for their future generations.

As one of the keynote speakers, I shared our Momwarrior™ knowledge on the “Motherhood Penalty” and the “Double Burden Syndrome” as well as what is called “the stalled gender revolution” where we are seeing growing numbers of women entering traditionally male dominated work. However,  we are not seeing the same shift of men into what can be termed traditionally as female dominated work (i.e. caregiving). Globally, women take on 75% of unpaid care and household work and, in Peru, women spend almost 40 hours per week in unpaid household activities. The amount of unpaid work is often an overlooked area when it comes to addressing the challenges that many women at work often face. This is real, and affects women all over the globe. 

While Peru has indeed undergone sweeping changes in the last couple of decades and, in fact, is one of the leading countries in the number of women starting businesses (60% of all new business in Peru are started by women!), there are still many barriers to the advancement of women. 

Most poignantly, while the US and Peru are in vastly different stages of economic development, and while our political and cultural histories are nothing alike, we see that women in Peru face the same barriers as women in the US when it comes to advancement. These include: (1) Blocked economic potential (i.e. access to credit and financing) (2) Fewer legal rights (i.e. outdated laws) (3) Political Underrepresentation (4) Violence against women (5) Time spent in unpaid care work. Yes, the scope and severity may be different, but women across the world face these same barriers.

What we are seeing is a growing number of women throughout the world starting their own businesses (a 6% increase between 2016-2017). Our organizational structures here in the US are not fully set up to accommodate working mothers and this is one of the many contributing factors for why we are seeing more and more women starting businesses - they have more control to align with their needs as mothers and caregivers. We still have work to do but there is indeed growth and change happening all around us, which is also very evident by looking closely at what is happening in Peru.

If you want to learn more about these topics in detail and understand the global dynamics of women at work, I highly recommend the following research reports:

Women at Work (International Labor Union) 2016

Women Matter: Time to Accelerate (McKinley & Company) 2017

Women’s Economic participation in Peru (USAID) 2016

We are Not an Island.

We are Not an Island.

Growing up in the U.S., we rarely talked about Canada in school.  In fact, I often joke with my Canadian friends that, when I was young, I didn’t even know that there was anything north of the United States. All of our classroom maps depicted the U.S. as if a floating land mass surrounded by sea. Something like this: 

We didn’t pay much attention to Canada and, honestly, I am not quite sure why. It's people are “the nicest” humans in the world (my kids are half Canadian!) and the topography and beauty is varied and unmatched.  But, it’s true, most of us Americans don’t know the first thing about Canada. Ok, well we all know it’s cold, and that everyone says “eh”, and that they drink Molson, love ice hockey, and proudly wear their flag. But, that is pretty much where our knowledge ends, period.

Now in 2017, in a surprising twist of our times, we are [belatedly] paying more attention to Canada these days than ever before. Prime Minister Trudeau is the antithesis of President Trump and that in itself is plenty worthy of attention.

So, in honor of Canada’s 150th anniversary (as they call it “The Sesquicentennial Anniversary of Canadian Confederation”) let me take time to share with you the few things that I have learned over the years that you just may not know.

But before we get started, let me say that what you DO already know, is in fact ALL true. It is cold (despite that there are 2 weeks at varying times in the summer that you would never believe this). And yes, the people ARE the nicest in the world even though they were edged out by Switzerland (wait whaat??). And, if choosing to debate any historical ice hockey moment, Americans would be wise to refrain from challenging any Canadian on this topic.

Nevertheless, beyond these indisputables, here are some things that you [truly] probably didn’t know.

1)    Not every person you see sporting a Canadian flag is indeed Canadian. In fact, the positive Canadian stereotype is so strong that many “Non-Canadian” travelers flat out lie just to make themselves seem cool, neutral, and well-liked. As a Canadian, you can ACTUALLY tell people you are from Canada without any repercussion.

2)    Did you know that lacrosse is Canada’s national sport … NOT ice hockey?

3)    Did you know that Canada celebrates Thanksgiving too? Except that Canada celebrates this day on the second weekend in October instead of November and in honor of ... well, no one really knows the origin but it’s a “bountiful harvest” nonetheless.

4)    Did you know that Canada has highway overpasses made solely for wildlife? This way, grizzly bears, moose, elk, sheep, coyotes, and wolves can safely pass busy highways without becoming roadkill. People, you are entirely on your own.

5)    When you think of the Northern Lights, don’t just think Alaska or Scandinavia, some of the best views can be seen from Northern Canada!

6)    Did you know that Manitoba is the polar bear capital of the world?

7)    Oh by the way, Manitoba is a P-R-O-V-I-N-C-E. Province is kind of like a state but there are only 10 of these Provinces in Canada and they are “governed” differently than [see point #8 below].

8)    And then, there are these things called T-E-R-R-I-T-O-R-I-E-S. There are three territories in Canada and they are WAY up there. Up North of North that is. Yukon, The Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. I can’t really explain the difference between provinces and territories and I never really got a straight answer from any Canadian either. But, what I do know, is there are NOT a lot of people up there and those who do live up there don’t really give a $#@% about the rest of Canada unless it has to do with global warming or oil.

9)    Did you know that some of your favorite movies were filmed in Canada and those actors and actresses and singers you love are all Canadian?  Name one, look it up on Wikipedia, and I swear they will be Canadian. In a country that only boasts 35.8 million people (vs 321.4 million in the US), that’s a pretty good hit rate!

10) That thing about French Canadians vs. non French Canadians you heard? Well, whatever you heard, it’s probably true.

11) Lastly, on a wild n’ crazy geography note, did you know that Canada is also home to an island, within an island, within an island. Got that? So, basically a 3rd degree island. For Reals. Check it out here.

Anyway, happy Canada Day people (one day late) and don’t forget to take the time to learn a little bit more about our friendly neighbors to the North! We are NOT an island.

[**Check out some cool Google Earth Voyager footage on Canada here --FYI only chrome browsers work].


One-Sidedness is Rarely a Good Thing.

One-Sidedness is Rarely a Good Thing.

For those who know me, of course I would share this article, a topic near and dear to my heart:  "Liberal Arts in the Data Age" by Harvard Business Review. Below is an excerpt.

"...this STEM-only mindset is all wrong. The main problem is that it encourages students to approach their education vocationally—to think just in terms of the jobs they’re preparing for....If we want to prepare students to solve large-scale human problems ... we must push them to widen, not narrow, their education and interests..." 

To be clear, I am not anti-STEM. Quite the opposite. Currently we are indeed gender lopsided in the STEM fields and this has to change. However, I believe that one-sidedness in anything does not enable us to think and develop the most creative and innovative solutions. I fear we are pushing our kids too far in the STEM direction as the de facto narrow endpoint for career success. Guess what, you don’t have to code to be in technology. You don’t have to be an engineer to work on building the next spacecraft. We need anthropologists and sociologists and economists and artists to name but a few, and we need these skills in STEM! We are hungry for gender diversity in these fields but we also need diversity of background and thought. Yes, I want my kids to understand coding language and be encouraged to test hypotheses in science, and I want them to believe that they can do/be anything they want. But, these so-called "soft subjects" should not be forgotten. Liberal arts encourages studies in all subjects. It requires courses in the math and sciences even if you are an English major. It requires courses in the arts, even if you are pre-med. It produces students who think out-of-box, who know how to write and communicate, and encourages openness and creativity that are invaluable in the workplace, most especially in tech.


More Alike Than Different.

More Alike Than Different.

While traveling in Japan this summer, my daughters and I were approached by some junior high girls who were learning about other cultures and hoping to practice their English skills.  Below is what we were handed by these students.  I just loved this. Yes, people from all over the world CAN be friends. The girls and I were asked to write a message about our idea of peace, love and friendship. 

Here is what we said: "If people lead a life of compassion and acceptance and keep an open mind when learning about people and cultures other than their own, nothing will stand in the way of peace and understanding. We have so much to learn from one another. There is no one “right” way of doing things, there is only the way of accepting our differences and similarities, and taking the time to learn “the why”. When we take the time to understand … to become culturally literate … we find that more often than not, we are far more alike than different.


Be That Girl

Be That Girl

Be that girl.

For she is fierce and strong.

This is her beauty.

 She may feel broken at times, but she is resilient for she believes in herself.

She may get knocked down, but she learns and rises stronger and fiercer than she was before.

Don’t cross her. She will fight if she needs to, but she will also fight in support of you.

You cannot break her because even if the wind is strong, she will let it carry her to a better place.

Be that girl.

For she is kind and intelligent.

This is her beauty.

She follows her heart, but at times she can't hold herself back because her path beckons and her passions are stronger than her fears.

Sometimes she gets lost in adventure, but always knows where to find home.

Sometimes she cries, but with each teardrop she grows wiser.

Be that girl.

For she is important.  We need her.

She will make a difference.

Be that girl.

She is in all of us.

She is beautiful. 



Momwarrior & Me

Momwarrior & Me

It has been two weeks since I had the pleasure of moderating the inaugural #momwarrior™ event on Friday, May 12th. This is an event that celebrates the warrior mom – the “working mom", the “stay-at home mom", and the mom that doesn’t fit into (or doesn’t like!) either of those labels. It was an event that celebrated our diversity, our passion projects, and the challenges and celebrations of motherhood and our career choices.

The mastermind for this event was my friend Tet Salva, founder of Bentogirl and momwarrior™.  Ironically but not surprisingly, Tet and I met at a children’s birthday party approximately four years ago.  We hit it off immediately talking big visions, bold dreams, and walked away from that party with a business partnership practically sealed.

Over the course of those following months, we met weekly talking about our plan to merge our career skillsets into a united force, building a specialized agency, the first of its kind.

However, as we talked about Tet’s skills at organizational transformation and change management and my skills in international marketing and cultural strategy, our conversations kept coming back to the topic of being a mom and raising kids and following our passions, and HOW DO WE DO THIS! How do we choose career over children and why should we have to? Why isn’t our society set up better for mothers who also want career fulfillment?

Tet and I chose different paths after motherhood. I chose to leave my career and opted for more flexible purpose-driven work knowing that I could not sustain a life of 24/7 international work travel while raising babies.  Tet, on the other hand, chose to carry on with her career while raising her children, hoping that she could find a balance in career and parenting with her husband who also had a full-time career. What we found most fascinating and interesting (despite our different post childbirth career choices) was that we were both unified in our belief that all moms (of all kinds) are indeed warriors.

So, for all the momwarriors out there. Support and lift each other up. Just do it. Take Action. Follow your heart and the pieces will begin to fall into place.

Read the momwarrior article here.

Cultural Literacy Counts

Cultural Literacy Counts

Hello and thanks for visiting and taking time to read. I am so excited to be starting this journey and hope that you will join me. Colorfully Cultured™ began as a passion project between myself and my oldest daughter as we talked about travel and life and the uniqueness of cultures outside of our own. Beginning at an early age I have always had an interest in learning about people and places beyond my own borders.  The majority of my life has been shaped by the places I have lived and travelled and the people I have met along the way. I have lived in Africa and Latin America, and travelled throughout Europe and Asia beginning at a young age.  Later, spanning almost two decades, I had a career in international marketing and strategy that required a focus on the unique dynamics of growing business in markets where culture, language, demographics and local/global economics played a leading role in decision making.

Now, as a mother of two young girls, being raised in a time where global understanding and tolerance is more critical than ever, I wanted to find a way to fast forward that cultural learning as they begin to shape their own values and perspectives about the world around them and their place within it. This is project Colorfully Cultured™, a destination where girls can gain knowledge and inspiration from abroad and be able to radiate empathy and understanding to those around them.