Meet 4 Women who are Changing the Game on Women’s Economic Opportunity

TechnoServe works to help women around the world gain equal access to the knowledge, jobs, and finance that enhance their incomes and their economic opportunities for the future. This month, we’re celebrating four women in Africa and Latin America who are transforming their lives and communities.

Nay Aponte Ortiz participated in TechnoServe’s Mujeres CAFÉ program for women coffee producers in Peru. The program helps women coffee producers access economic opportunity.

Fueling Women’s Economic Opportunity in Mozambique

Millions of women in the Global South lack access to a savings account, a credit line, or digital financial services. TechnoServe builds strategic partnerships with local financial institutions like M-Pesa and AfricaWorks to address this challenge. 

By conducting market research, offering tailored training, and supporting the design of gender-focused financial products, our Women in Business (WIN) program in Mozambique created mutual benefits for women and the financial sector alike.

What’s the impact of investing in financial inclusion for women? Numbers from WIN make the case:

  • M-Pesa, a mobile financial service provider, experienced a remarkable increase in its user base in Mozambique, growing from 10,000 to 110,000, 46% of whom are women.
  • An impressive 71% of women participated in M-Pesa’s digital financial savings solution called “Xitique.” They saved more money, thanks to a platform redesign incorporating gender considerations inspired by TechnoServe’s recommendations.
  • More than half of these women reinvested their savings into their businesses, and 79% of the women who reinvested in their businesses experienced a growth in income.
  • Finally, with improved access to and use of financial services, 4,136 customers (62% women) across WIN’s partnerships with financial service providers indicated they had more time to spend in their businesses, with their families, or doing other activities.

Investing in women’s financial inclusion is not only about progress; it’s about mobilizing a systemic transformation that embraces women as customers, entrepreneurs, providers, and agents of change.

Hear directly from Isabel Jafete Zimba Mavie, a local shop owner. As a result of WIN’s work with AfricaWorks, she accessed a credit line, adopted mobile money and electronic banking, and immediately benefited from being integrated into the financial system by diversifying and growing her business.

Investing in Women’s Enterprises in Guatemala

The world faces a daunting challenge: How do we create 600 million new jobs by 2030 for young people entering the workforce? An often overlooked part of the answer lies in empowering women-run small businesses and farms, which are pillars of most of the Global South’s economies.

Investing in women’s enterprises—by providing the support, training, and financing they need—fuels engines of job creation. When we invest in women’s businesses, it generates opportunities for other women (and men), creating virtuous cycles of economic empowerment that uplift communities and contribute to gender equality.

Meet Gloria Josefina Orón, a Guatemalan farmer whose story highlights the impact of such investments. Her farm doesn’t just support her family; it’s a source of employment for other women in her village, showcasing how supporting women’s businesses benefits entire communities.

Investing in women’s businesses is about more than being inclusive; it is about investing in pathways that help to solve the urgent challenges of our time, like job creation.

Increasing Women’s Leadership in Zambia

According to a recent report published by the World Economic Forum, women accounted for almost 42% of the workforce in 2023. Yet, the share of women in senior leadership positions was 32%, nearly 10 percentage points lower.

Why is it such a struggle to advance gender equality in leadership roles when the benefits are so evident? 

  • Gender-balanced leadership teams boost economic growth by embracing diverse perspectives, enhancing innovation, and improving competitiveness, which are crucial to increased profitability and value creation.
  • Cultivating an inclusive culture improves psychological safety and minimizes employee turnover, directly impacting organizational health by retaining top talent.
  • Gender diversity in leadership complements decision-making and drives innovation. The different insights of women leaders contribute to creative solutions and a comprehensive understanding of consumer demands.
  • Championing gender equality in leadership positions strengthens a company’s commitment to social and corporate responsibility, improving its reputation and potentially attracting ethically-minded employees, customers, and investors.

At TechnoServe, we are committed to investing in the success of women business leaders, especially in the Global South. 

Sarah Ngwenya is the managing director and owner of Kalomo Grain Marketing, a Zambian producer of fortified vegetable oils. Learn from Sarah how investing in women business leaders enhances their professional and personal development, boosts women’s representation in business, and motivates others to follow her success.

Shifting Restrictive Gender Norms in Peru

Shifting attitudes and norms means encouraging men to support women’s economic opportunity and participation and creating spaces where women reconnect with their power and take on non-traditional roles at home and on the farm. Such structural changes take time. 

Nay Aponte Ortiz participated in TechnoServe’s Mujeres CAFÉ program for women coffee producers in Peru. In this video, she shares how she found her voice and a place in an industry and community that hasn’t consistently recognized her contributions.

I hope these testimonies have been inspiring and remind us of the power of women as leaders and agents of change. It’s possible to create a world where women like Isabel, Gloria, Sarah, and Nay are respected and heard and can make life choices that benefit them and their families. We need to invest in women and systems that can support financial inclusion and job creation, as well as shift norms and attitudes to advance women’s economic opportunities.


Cristina Manfre is TechnoServe’s Global Gender Director.