Every day AB InBev is empowering women throughout our value chain. In honor of International Women's Day this week, we are proudly sharing some of the inspiring ways we're creating a better, more equal world - behind the wheel, in the field and at our favorite neighborhood stores.
City-dwellers have a special relationship with the neighborhood shop where they pick up their groceries and essentials. AB InBev counts more than six million retailers among our most valued partners. These are mostly small businesses, owned by families and run by the female head of the household.
Thousands of women entrepreneurs have expanded their retail shops and business acumen through AB InBev's retailer development programs spanning South America. Participants learn valuable skills like business management, digital and social media skills. They are also connected with affordable financial services and even funding to improve their stores' infrastructure.
One example is the ‘Emprendedoras Bavaria' (Bavaria Entrepreneurs) program, led by our local brewer in Colombia, where small retail stores represent more than 81% of our beer sales and, on average, 40% of shopkeepers' profits. This inclusion initiative specializes in improving the quality of life for women shopkeepers in vulnerable conditions and to date has impacted more than 25,000 women and provided more than $2.5 million USD (9 billion Colombian pesos) in microcredits to invest in their businesses.
The need for a program like this is clear. In Colombia, women face enormous economic gaps. For example, during the pandemic, the unemployment rate grew to 20% for women versus 12% for men. Additionally, a national survey of small businesses showed that women receive about 20% less monthly income than men. Of the approximately 300,000 retail stores in Colombia, 54% of them are run by women – that's roughly 1/5 of the country's enterprises.
“Women have a multiplier effect,” says Dominique Reyes, Corporate Affairs and Bavaria Foundation Director. “The ‘Emprendedoras Bavaria' program works because it's a win-win for everyone involved. When women thrive, our communities thrive and the quality of life for women improves across our country.”
Program participant Fatima Maria Munevar Mejia, is a mother and owner of a small retail shop in Medellin Antioquia.
“I had forgotten who I was and what I could do,” she says “The Emprendedoras Bavaria program has been my starting point. With their support and business training, I have been able to grow my business. We have a lot to do still, our store is our only source of income right now. For this reason, every day we creatively seek to make it bigger and better.”
A recent evaluation of ‘Emprendedoras Bavaria' provide the positive impact the program is having on women's lives. Our entrepreneurs' daily income increased by 30% versus shop owners not enrolled in the program. Participants also have a higher probability of creating jobs and using digital platforms to amplify their business, and have greater access to financial resources.
Support from programs like ‘Emprendedoras Bavaria' was especially needed in 2020 as retailers struggled to survive the restrictions brought on by the pandemic. Despite these difficulties, nearly 7,000 retailers across Colombia, Peru and Ecuador graduated from the program, bringing the total to 38,000 – nearly half-way to our goal of empowering 80,000 women across the region.