EMPRO: Building the digital skills and financial resilience of Dominican women-led small businesses

Our programs

Dominican business woman

Why this program?

  • Entrepreneurship in the Dominican Republic is booming, with a majority of the adult population showing high intentions to start a new business.
  • About 48% of entrepreneurs in the Dominican Republic are women. Therefore, supporting their entrepreneurial endeavors is crucial to contributing to economic growth, stimulating innovation and diversity, and positively impacting social development.
  • However, over half of Dominican women entrepreneurs are unbanked, and only 15% of rural women over 25 years of age have higher education. Other challenges include the lack of knowledge and skills in business operations (such as planning, finance, sales, and marketing), limited access to networks and funding sources, and low levels of digitalization. Together, these factors curtail the potential of women-led businesses to generate employment and economic growth.

Program overview

The Empresarias Progresando (EMPRO)— Businesswomen Forward—program will leverage digital tools and financial resources to support the growth and resilience of women-led small businesses in the Dominican Republic. By equipping them with the right knowledge, tools, and skills, they will digitize their operations, unlock access to finance, and explore new markets to grow and thrive in an increasingly digital economy. 

The EMPRO program builds on a successful partnership between INCAE Business School, Mastercard, and other strategic partners in Honduras and Guatemala, where digital upskilling unlocked access to formal markets and digital financial services for women-led small businesses. Drawing from this regional experience, EMPRO aims to provide digital training and mentorship to women-led small businesses in the Dominican Republic, focusing on essential skills such as online sales, digital marketing, digital financial services, and financial resource management.

The program will promote the Mastercard Strive’s Hora de Crecer e-learning platform to 35,000 small businesses across the Dominican Republic, benefitting almost 3,000 of them with digital content and actionable tips for business growth. More bespoke training will be delivered to 100 women-led small businesses through self-paced virtual learning classes, 1:1 tutoring, and personalized mentorship to enable them to run effective digital marketing campaigns, sell online, and retain customers. 

Based on their business readiness, 40 of these 100 women-led small businesses will be selected to undergo more intensive training and mentorship to strengthen their skills in securing and negotiating large-scale contracts and showcase their products at PriceSmart facilities or participate in PriceSmart Roadshows. In collaboration with BHD bank, participants will also benefit from a series of bespoke finance webinars and unlock direct access to inclusive credit products.

In the next phase, an intensive one-week bootcamp at the INCAE campus in Costa Rica will engage this cohort of 40 women entrepreneurs in peer-to-peer learning, and support them to gain key market insights, grow their networks, and prepare for business negotiations with potential clients. The learning journey culminates with a specially arranged in-person showcase event where the Strive supported entrepreneurs will pitch their offerings to large businesses and investors to expand their customer base and explore new sales opportunities.

About INCAE Business School

INCAE is a leading business school in Latin America, founded in 1964 by Harvard Business School. Its mission is to actively promote the integral development of the countries where it serves, training leaders for the key sectors and improving their practices, attitudes, and values by:

  • Encouraging research, teaching, and dissemination of modern management concepts and techniques.
  • Strengthening analytical skills and understanding of economic, political and social phenomena.
  • Facilitating dialogue, understanding and collaboration between individuals, sectors and countries.

INCAE is a pioneer in the region in terms of strategic, inclusive and sustainable leadership, having the promotion of diversity as a priority through its Center for Inclusive and Sustainable Leadership (CELIS).

About BHD

BHD Bank was founded on the 24th of July 1972. At the time, it was known as Banco Hipotecario, the first of its kind in the country. Through more than five decades of history, we have been pioneers in the local financial sector: from being the first multiple service bank in the Dominican Republic to being pioneers in the implementation of a corporate governance model. 

Research highlights a significant gender gap between male and female entrepreneurs, especially when it comes to their companies' growth expectations. To drive equitable business success and contribute to Latin America's economic development, it is vital to strengthen the capacities of women entrepreneurs, provide them with up-to-date tools, digital preparation, and expand their access to financial resources and markets. This allows them to scale and make a positive impact on their environment.

Gabriela Lucke Guzmán


Implementation partners
Scale partners

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