In a cozy vegetarian restaurant in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, three Vietnamese women discuss business over steaming noodles and dumplings. Amidst the bustling traffic outside, this small haven thrives on community and connection. The owner’s story is woven into the handmade menu, revealing how she opened the restaurant during the COVID-19 pandemic to offer healthy, locally-sourced food. Despite challenges and competition, her success speaks to the unique appeal of small businesses.

Building Stronger Communities

Small businesses are the lifeblood of communities, offering more than just products and services. They foster a sense of belonging and support. Remarkably, one in three micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are led by women. Despite facing significant legal and financial barriers, women-led businesses are pivotal in reducing poverty, driving job creation, and sparking innovation. These enterprises regenerate local economies by hiring local workers and reinvesting in their communities, essential for collective prosperity.

Dreaming Inclusive Growth Into Reality

How Women Entrepreneurs Are Revitalizing Local Economies and Small Businesses
Violeta Pacheco Mejía, founder of Tejidos Peruanos in Villa El Salvador, Peru

Violeta Pacheco Mejía, an entrepreneur in Lima, Peru, embodies the transformative power of women-led businesses. Her eco-friendly clothing company, Tejidos Peruanos, hires local women and offers on-site childcare, illustrating a supportive work environment. After 18 years of dedication, she secured a bank loan through CARE’s Ignite and Strive Women programs. Pacheco Mejía’s business is a testament to how women entrepreneurs invest in their communities, fostering growth and inspiring others.

Enabling Healthy Market Systems While Battling Systemic Barriers

Despite their resilience and leadership, women entrepreneurs face significant barriers, including limited access to credit. Through CARE’s programs, women are gaining the support needed to grow their businesses. By working with local partners, these programs design tailored financial services and training to challenge harmful gender norms. Policymakers, businesses, banks, and community leaders must collaborate to unlock women’s economic potential, valued at $10 trillion annually.

As we celebrate MSME Day, we should recognize and promote women-led enterprises. Support them by shopping intentionally, investing in their businesses, designing inclusive financial solutions, and advocating for policies that recognize their contributions. By doing so, we strengthen the connections within our communities and move towards a future where equality and inclusivity are realities.