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Bogotá, November 26, 2019—
women from Latin America, including Colombia, are among 20 female business leaders profiled in a publication by IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—for their professional success, defying culturally engrained gender stereotypes and bias.
Trailblazers--Portraits of Female Business Leadership in Emerging and Frontier Markets
highlights the personal and professional journeys of female business leaders from emerging and frontier markets, including Argentina, Brazil, and Panama, in addition to Colombia. These women, through their leadership, have helped create new markets and add business value for their organizations, giving a boost to their communities and national economies.
IFC partnered with CESA and the Instituto Colombiano de Gobierno Corporativo to present this publication in Colombia. The publication was produced in partnership with Canada, Luxembourg and the SDG Fund.
Colombia’s Rosario Córdoba Garcés is helping to improve the nation’s economic competitiveness as president of the Private Council for Competitiveness, where she has pushed for private sector and structural reforms, and as independent board chair of Grupo Argos, a leader in corporate governance and sustainability.
Argentina’s Andrea Grobocopatel, the granddaughter of Jewish immigrants who arrived as refugees from the Second World War, grew up in a rural town. In adulthood she and her family turned their small farm into Los Grobo, a powerhouse agribusiness conglomerate that has achieved market leadership. Today she is dedicated to FLOR foundation, which trains women for decision-making positions, with the goal to improve governance and build responsible organizations. Andrea also created Resiliencia SGR, a non-profit focused on financial inclusion.
Brazil’s Ana Paula Pessoa guided the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games through to a successful conclusion as the Games’ first-ever female CFO—a remarkable feat given the nation’s turbulent financial situation at the time. Today she is an investor in and chair of Kunumi AI, a leading artificial intelligence company in Brazil and a professional board director of global companies, guiding them toward more equitable practices.
Panama’s Sigrid Simons de Muller credits her family for encouraging her to pursue the same professional opportunities as her brothers. As an expert on firm governance and sought-out independent board director, she is helping to achieve better gender balance in leadership on a national scale, advising on Panama’s recently approved law requiring 30 percent female participation on the boards of companies and institutions.
Research has shown that gender diversity in leadership is good business, yielding dividends for companies, communities, and economies. A
2016 Inter-American Development Bank study
of more than 7,000 listed companies in Latin America and the Caribbean found that the firms with women on their boards or in executive suites were more profitable than those with all-male boards and management.
Yet, across the region, women hold about 10 percent of board positions, while globally women
hold only 15 percent of board seats and 4 percent
of CEO and board chair positions.
In addition to the four Latin American women, the list includes female business leaders from, China, Egypt, Ghana, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Morocco, Myanmar, South Africa, Turkey, Uganda, Vietnam, and Yemen. They represent a range of industry experience, from information technology to shipping, from healthcare to development finance.
“By sharing the empowering stories of these trailblazing women, we hope that professional women everywhere will find inspiration to pursue their own upward career trajectories,” Elizabeth Martínez de Marcano, IFC’s manager for the Andean region. “Increasing the pipeline of female leadership talent and narrowing the gender gaps in business leadership are development imperatives and IFC priorities, as we work towards inclusive and sustainable private sector growth.”
The publication, from IFC’s Women on Boards and in Business Leadership program, is part of IFC’s multi-faceted gender strategy, which includes accelerating the pace at which women in emerging and frontier markets join boards and assume C-suite positions.
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities where they are needed most. In fiscal year 2019, we delivered more than $19 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit
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