In Peru, women are launching more businesses

Yolanda Ibarra smiling (U.S. Embassy Peru)
The Dreambuilder program has helped entrepreneurs like Yolanda Ibarra strengthen business skills. (U.S. Embassy Peru)

Entrepreneurship offers the surest path to prosperity in many parts of the world, but people living in remote areas — especially women — often lack access to business training.

That’s why the U.S. Embassy in Lima decided to lend a hand.

Working with Peruvian-American Binational Centers, which promote educational opportunities, the embassy recently introduced a State Department-sponsored online business development program focused on helping women entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

Known as DreamBuilder, the program teaches women to launch and sustain a local enterprise. As women-owned businesses grow, they hire more workers and contribute more to their communities’ economies.

One of DreamBuilder’s successful graduates is Yolanda Ibarra, from the Amazonian city of Madre de Dios. With very little capital, she began her business venture in 2016, creating natural products with ingredients found in the Amazon region.

After completing the four-month course, Ibarra was awarded $1,000 for creating the best business plan of all plans produced by her particular group of participants. She used the money to obtain sanitary and legal permits to sell her products on the Peruvian market.

DreamBuilder guided her to identify suppliers, price products and find customers, she said. She registered the brand name Warayo and expanded from one product to six. “My next goal is to grow my market share,” she said.

Display of jars, fruit and crackers (U.S. Embassy Peru)
Entrepreneur Yolanda Ibarra’s all-natural food products are made with ingredients from the Amazon. (U.S. Embassy Peru)

Warayo product ingredients are sourced from Peru’s indigenous communities, which will benefit as the business thrives.

DreamBuilder started in Peru in early 2017. To date, some 800 Peruvian women have participated, and related workshops are allowing them to exchange ideas with their counterparts in Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia in the near future.

Since 2017, the U.S. Embassy has invested $271,000 to expand access to DreamBuilder by collaborating with the U.S. mining company Freeport-McMoRan, Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management and a network of eight binational centers throughout Peru.