Women across the globe struggle to obtain low-interest loans in hopes of securing their families’ futures. One such woman is Marisol Santiago from Villalba, Puerto Rico. When she lost her job in the healthcare industry following the global recession, she was forced to take on three part-time jobs to support her children. Thanks to a small loan, Marisol was eventually able to launch her own pharmacy.
This is not so rare in Puerto Rico, thanks to Doral Bank. The bank, which has branches throughout the U.S. as well, teamed up with communities and non-profits to launch a program aimed at promoting women’s entrepreneurship. According to Doral, “these initiatives are focused on providing the requisite financial support and peer monitoring, so that women are propelled as drivers of economic growth.”
Marisol’s loan was a result of this effort. In fact, more than 25 women have received financial aid and mentoring for their businesses through Mujeres De Exito, or Successful Women, over the last two years. The program has already helped create more than 30 women-owned businesses and 100 jobs.
Still, Doral Bank and other programs like Mujeres De Exito have a lot of work to do. According to the Kauffman Foundation, less than 5% of venture financing goes to women-owned businesses in the United States today. In Puerto Rico, the number of women with bachelor’s degrees is significantly higher than men, and yet only about 1 of 100 women own their own businesses.
Doral Bank’s Lucienne Gigante explains: “There are millions of bold and ambitious women like Marisol in communities across Puerto Rico and the United States who deserve a more supportive hand. Financial institutions can play a vital role in this effort. If fostering entrepreneurship and advancing women are made distinct priorities at the local level, women will be empowered to take action, rebuilding communities one household at a time.”