Business & Economy

IDB offers support for sustainable Amazon development, women entrepreneurship

Barranquilla, Colombia, Mar 18 (efe-epa).- The Inter-American Development Bank on Thursday launched one initiative for the sustainable development of the Amazon region and another to encourage women entrepreneurs to integrate their businesses into foreign trade and regional value chains.

Those programs were announced at the annual meeting of the boards of governors of the IDB and IDB Invest, a five-day virtual assembly being hosted by this Caribbean port city.

IDB President Mauricio Claver-Carone said in presenting the Amazon initiative along with Colombian head of state Ivan Duque that countries do not have to choose between environmental protection policies and growth and that the two can be mutually reinforcing.

The initiative, which will have $20 million in seed capital from the IDB, will be implemented in close coordination with the Amazonian countries and the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO).

Once established, the fund will have close to $1 billion in project financing available thanks to additional input from private partners and other donors, Claver-Carone said.

“The good news is that there is the political will and interest of the private sector to promote models of sustainable and inclusive development for the Amazonian territories,” the IDB chief said.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, also in attendance at the virtual gathering, hailed the initiative for showing a commitment to conservation and the sustainable use of resources.

The initiative represents an opportunity for Latin American countries to unite around a common cause for the benefit of the communities that live in that region, the rightist head of state said.

The Amazon is critically important to ecosystems worldwide, providing between 35 percent and 40 percent of Latin America’s fresh water, regulating air quality, storing net carbon emissions and regulating nutrient and hydrological cycles for the South American continent.

That region also is home to more than 30 million people, including approximately 1.5 million indigenous people and more than 5 million people of African descent.

Also launched during a separate assembly session on Thursday was the “Women Growing Together in the Americas” initiative, a program designed in collaboration with the private sector to encourage women entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean to integrate their businesses into foreign trade and regional value chains.

“Supporting women entrepreneurs and business owners in Latin America and the Caribbean helps the region’s economic development,” said Maren Lau, Facebook’s regional vice president for Latin America. “We are confident that through education and financial inclusion women will be able to expand the possibilities and reach of their businesses and, at the end of the day, contribute to economic reactivation.”

According to IDB data, relative to their male counterparts, women-led businesses have a lower participation in foreign trade and global and regional value chains.

The coronavirus pandemic, meanwhile, has exacerbated the challenges they were already experiencing, including the low use and adoption of information technologies and limited access to funding.

The “Women Growing Together in the Americas” program will strive to help women entrepreneurs overcome these obstacles by connecting them with real business opportunities and providing them with innovative tools for improving their business management.

This is the fifth time that Colombia has hosted an IDB Annual Meeting. The previous events took place in Bogota (1968), Cartagena (1982 and 1998) and Medellin (2009). EFE


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