Supporting Female Entrepreneurs in Andacollo through a Microenterprise Development Fund

Supporting female-led businesses helps to strengthen communities, unlock talent and improve security and diversity. However, the global entrepreneurship gap shows us that women are less likely to start businesses, and that these businesses are less likely to survive1

To support female entrepreneurs in Andacollo, Teck’s Carmen de Andacollo Operations in Chile created the Microenterprise Development Fund (Fondemi). The funding program provides emerging and pre-established entrepreneurs in Andacollo and the Alfalfares sector in La Serena with small grants to grow their business and thrive.

What sets this fund apart is that almost 80 per cent of applications have been submitted by female entrepreneurs. 

The program makes two financing streams available to applicants: The first is the Línea Fondo Inicia or Beginners Fund, aimed at individuals wishing to strengthen or formalize their businesses, and offering a maximum financing of 1,000,000 Chilean pesos (CLP) or about 1,700 Canadian dollars. The second is the Línea Fondo Empresa or Enterprise Fund is aimed at microentrepreneurs who have more established businesses. The maximum financing for these projects is CLP 2,000,000.

Women entrepreneurs from a variety of backgrounds and stages of their business, but with a shared strong growth mindset, provided feedback about their experience:

Luz María Aguilera is a representative of the Agua de la Montaña Cooperative and one of the beneficiaries of the fund. The Cooperative produces purified drinking water for the local community and the grant they have received will allow them to purchase a shrinkable heat tunnel to improve their production. 

“These contributions help us develop, achieve our goals and dreams, and continue to grow. It is very good that they support us, because with these resources we become more competitive, and help support each other in Andacollo,” said Aguilera.

Nora Barahona has been working in her textile sewing and embroidery workshop in Andacollo for ten years and the Fondemi contributions she has received will allow her to develop her business. 

“With these resources, I will be able to buy another machine for my business and continue my work making corporate clothing for institutions and schools. So, I am very happy and proud to be a beneficiary, because this will allow my company to grow,” said Barahona.

Juana Álvarez runs a small business that bakes kneaded bread for distribution in her community and surrounding areas. 

“I really want to continue doing this. Before the social crisis, in October 2019, I was baking 40 kilos of flour and I delivered my products door-to-door in La Cortadera, El Manzano, El Peñón and the school where my children study. These resources will help me purchase the tools needed to expand my products, such as a tray cart and a bread kneading machine, because in addition to the kneaded bread I also want to incorporate other types of bread preparations, such as hallulla. We are strong women and we are grateful that these funds are destined for those of us who have the desire and motivation to thrive,” said Álvarez.

These female recipients have shown determination to strengthen their skills and acquire the tools for success. Teck continues to support local employment and businesses as part of our commitment to long-term sustainability and economic development in the communities in which we operate. 

Learn more about our approach to Relationships with Communities on our website.

1. Closing the Entrepreneurial Gender Gap Could Increase the Global Economy by $5 trillion. Forbes. 2019. 

First published on February 11, 2021