The 2014 Women’s Entrepreneurship in the Americas (WEAmericas) conference will take place in Santiago, Chile, October 20-22, 2014. The conference is hosted by the WEAmericas Executive Board, the U.S. Embassy in Santiago, the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, Chile’s Office of the Under Secretary of Economy, and other partners. U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Catherine Russell, and Chilean Under Secretary of Economy Katia Trusich will deliver keynote remarks at the conference. Over 100 women entrepreneurs from Latin America and the Caribbean will participate.
President Barack Obama launched the WEAmericas initiative during the Summit of the Americas in 2012 in order to advance economic opportunities and support women’s entrepreneurship across the region. This year’s conference in Santiago is part of the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding on promoting entrepreneurship and the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises signed by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz in Washington, DC in June 2014 during President Michelle Bachelet’s visit. In an effort to deliver on President Bachelet’s commitment to strengthen women’s entrepreneurship in Chile, the Chilean Ministry of Economy is launching several initiatives to further women’s participation in Chile’s economic development.
WEAmericas is a U.S. Department of State initiative that promotes partnerships between public, private and nonprofit organizations to help women start and grow small and medium-size enterprises. The goal of this initiative is to build a stronger and more collaborative environment for women by breaking down the barriers that women often face when starting and growing their businesses: access to markets, access to capital, skills and capacity building, and leadership opportunities. The initiative has resulted in an extensive network of women entrepreneurs in the region, and this network is expected to benefit over 20,000 women in more than seventeen countries by 2015.
Geraldine Mlynarz, head of the WEAmericas alumni network in Chile, and representatives from a variety of NGOs dedicated to the economic advancement of women, will participate in the conference. The conference will include panel discussions, workshops and networking opportunities.
Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues
Cathy Russell currently serves as the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues. Prior to assuming this position in August 2013, she served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden focusing on military families and higher education. During her tenure at the White House, Ambassador Russell coordinated the development of the Administration’s strategy to prevent and respond to gender-based violence globally. She previously served as a Senior Advisor to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on international women’s issues. During the Clinton Administration, Russell served as Associate Deputy Attorney General. She has also served as Staff Director of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senior Counsel to Senator Patrick J. Leahy. She received a B.A. in Philosophy from Boston College and a J.D. from George Washington University.