Meet 6 women leading transformative approaches to address Venezuela's regional crisis!
The BetterTogether Challenge is proud to fund and scale locally-driven, women-led innovations to support Venezuelans and their host communities in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Although 2019 was a record year for business start-ups and innovations led by women, the United Nations warned that the COVID-19 pandemic could cause a setback. Today more than ever we must continue to promote innovation led by women. This helps us reap the benefits of inclusive innovation that incorporates the perspectives of more than half the world’s population. For example, studies have shown that increasing inclusivity and participation of women in an organization leads to better performance and greater innovative capacity.
In this article, we feature 8 women leading innovations funded by the BetterTogether Challenge.
1) Loop: Claudia Esparza
Founder at Loop and Nanas & Amas
Peruvian, mother, businesswoman. For 11 years, through her company Nanas & Amas, Claudia has connected families and domestic workers to establish happy and lasting relationships. Since the migration of Venezuelans to Peru began, Claudia's company began receiving job applications from many women looking for job opportunities. All were Venezuelan professionals in different careers, but who needed support to start over. However, as they had no previous experience as domestic workers, they could not be hired. As Claudia describes, “The feeling of helplessness of not being able to lend them a hand made us think about designing a new service. And that's how Loop was born— the mobile app that connects thousands of Venezuelan women with dignified job opportunities to clean houses and offices by the hour, in Lima. They are receiving training and constant job opportunities, good weekly income, the power to decide their own work schedules, and are part of a large community of women that walks with them on their path to move forward.”
2) Democracy International: Marlene S. Charles
Project Director for Democracy International in Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidadian. Youth Mentor. Activist. Marlene has been involved in working with social issues since her days as a youth mentor in her parish community. A strong believer in volunteerism and advocacy, Marlene has also been at the helm of three key civil society associations in Trinidad.
In Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuelan women are particularly vulnerable to harassment and xenophobia. They often avoid using public services and take extra precautions to share their location with friends and family when they travel.
To address this issue, Marlene and her team at Democracy International (DI) are implementing the WELCOME project, which uses a women-centered approach to address xenophobia and harassment toward Venezuelan women in Trinidad and Tobago. DI has partnered with local stakeholders to implement a series of behavioral science-based interventions aimed at increasing awareness of harassment and xenophobia, encouraging bystanders to speak up against it in public spaces, and creating lasting behavioral change.
“It's actually about women helping women. It is Trini [dadian] women helping other Trini [dadian] women to become allies of Venezuelan women to stop sexual harassment and xenophobic behavior.”
3) Cáritas Brasileira: Cristina Dos Anjos
Migraflix Initiative Coordinator at Cáritas Brasileira
Brazilian. Activist, with the mission to fight against violence against women and racism. The MigraSegura platform aims to support the safe mobility of Venezuelan migrants. By using MigraSegura, migrants can find information on legislation, reception areas, indications of social assistance networks, employment opportunities and more. The platform can be accessed through cell phones, tablets and computers. Cristina explains that "As a black woman, I took on the mission of supporting the struggle of other women to defend their rights against violence and feminicide and the fight against racism. As the MigraSegura initiative coordinator, I look carefully at the reality of women, who are the majority of migrants within Venezuelan displacement."
4) CDI Chile: Marcia Cortez Paredes
Outreach and Communications at CDI Chile
Argentine. A Communications Guru. Marcia is the driving force behind “Aprendo Data”, a data science bootcamp for women. Participants will receive the training and skills to improve their employability, helping to reduce the gender gap in tech. CDI, in alliance with Data Elevates, is training approximately 200 Venezuelan women in data visualization and interpretation. As Marcia notes, “... To achieve a real impact, we will connect them [participants] with job opportunities, through outreach events with the participation of potential employers and entrepreneurship networks. These events will help to connect migrants with a rapidly growing industry, and to show society the advantages of integration.”
5) Rape Crisis Society of Trinidad and Tobago: Salma Mohammaed
Officer at Rape Crisis Society of Trinidad and Tobago (RCSTT)
Trinidadian. Activist. Salma firmly believes that "Everyone deserves to feel safe, to be respected and to have a strong support system. We are here for our Venezuelan sisters and brothers."
In Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuelan migrants often encounter challenges in accessing essential services due to the language barrier and their legal status. This makes it difficult for them to implement healthy decision-making and cope with the stressors of being a migrant in a host country. Therefore, the Rape Crisis Society will establish a toll-free, GBV Bilingual Hotline in Trinidad and Tobago, operated by trained Venezuelans, for Venezuelans and other GBV survivors in the country. The GBV Bilingual Hotline will be supported by a bilingual animated video series geared towards promoting social cohesion amongst Venezuelans and locals. These services will be free to all beneficiaries, including locals, and will seek to foster healthy coping strategies, self-sufficiency and empowerment amongst migrants and locals in T&T.
6) Art For Impact: Nery Santaella
Nery “Nani” Santaella, Co - Founder at Art for Impact
Venezuelan, mother, activist and the star of the series “Laboratorio de Arepas”. Her company, Art for Impact, develops creative solutions to social problems through art and creativity. Her flagship initiative, Voices of Venezuela, is a media project like no other that focuses on problem-solving between Venezuelan migrants and host communities in Colombia. As Nery explains, “We want to build self-sufficiency by providing essential information on integration processes in Colombia and access to services, in a simple, dynamic and accessible way. And second, we want to reduce xenophobia and prevent conflict through the creation of culturally appropriate programs, where we are open to talking about xenophobia in a cordial way; a space where we celebrate the positive aspects of migration in Colombia and, why not, celebrate our culture and shared values.”