Accelerating and scaling businesses and cooperatives to promote a transformative care economy in Latin America and the Caribbean
The care economy (mainly child and elder care) is vital to society, yet it remains invisible, undervalued and unevenly distributed. The economic crisis generated by COVID-19 has swept away many years of global progress towards gender equality. The pandemic has revealed and exacerbated the disproportionate responsibility for unpaid and care work that women continue to bear, especially the poorest and most marginalized. In Central America, for example, women dedicate about three times as many hours as men to the care economy. Unpaid care and domestic work is a key barrier to women’s and girls’ empowerment.
Innovative market-based solutions are emerging. These include business models to provide affordable, high-quality childcare to underserved communities, to improve labour conditions for care-economy workers, and to develop accessible time or labour-saving, environment-friendly technologies that reduce drudgery. Yet these enterprises face challenges for scaling up.
This project will support scalable and market-based approaches to reduce, redistribute and reward women’s care work through incubation and acceleration for businesses in the care economy in Central America. It will generate evidence on how to support and help grow care-economy businesses to create a fairer care economy. It will support the strengthening of women-led businesses and cooperatives in the provision of care services in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The project will foster and systematize learning on what works to support care-economy business development for gender-transformative impact. As a result of this project, there will be increased business innovation supported by investment and public policies to build forward better.
This project is part of a larger initiative on impact investing in the care economy supported through a partnership between IDRC and the Soros Economic Development Fund, the impact investing arm of the Open Society Foundations. This program seeks to leverage entrepreneurship and impact investing to transform care into a sustainable and inclusive economic opportunity.