Procolombia, Proactive, Pro Gender Equality

During the months of March to June 2021, TFO Canada conducted Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) trainings under the Women in Trade for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth (WIT) project for beneficiary country Trade Support Institutions (TSIs). The training aimed to raise awareness on the value of women in leadership positions and develop strategies for equitable participation of women-led SMEs in international trade so that the TSIs can provide appropriate gender-responsive export readiness services to women-led and men-led SMEs.

In the Region of Latin America, TFO Canada has trained 4 TSIs. In Colombia the GESI training lasted 5 days and was attended by 17 staff members, 12 of which were women and 5 were men. Additionally, TFO Canada delivered technical assistance to support the elaboration of PROCOLOMBIA’s GESI Action Plan. The training has been a success and partner TSIs have shared enthusiasm with the TFO Canada staff about the aftermath and its impacts. TFO Canada was able to discuss the impacts of the training in further details with Flavia Santoro Trujillo, President of ProColombia, our partner TSI in Colombia.

Flavia tells us “Prior to the GESI training we didn’t have a gender policy, we had never had a GESI training either, because at ProColombia we have a strong presence of women in leadership. In management we have approximately 70% of women in leadership positions. Gender equality has been naturally at the core of how we function and it’s something that makes us very proud”.

“Our staff was thrilled and eager to receive this training. At ProColombia we are always open to learn and acquire new knowledge, with the vision of improving our services and being up to date with global trends.  Gender equality has been a top priority for our country, and we are happy to contribute to achieving this goal. The training has allowed us to raise awareness about the importance of having gender focused programs and it has motivated us to further implement initiatives that promote gender equality.”

As a result of the GESI training, ProColombia wasted no time in implementing new strategies. Flavia told us “Prior to the GESI training, ProColombia did not have a gender policy, this is in part because of the heavy presence of women at the organization. Since the training ProColombia has been looking into implementing a gender policy and applying some of the newly learned strategies to improve internal process that will continue to benefit of all staff, specifically the women at ProColombia in all positions.

Additionally, we are conducting a survey intended to gather information on women led companies. The results of the survey will allow us to better classify companies based on: if they are women led, if they employ large numbers of women, and/or if women own the company.

Simultaneously, we are launching a pilot program called ‘Mentora Exportadora’ (woman exporter mentor program) focused on having women led companies, mentor other women led companies. This program seeks to promote a successful exchange of information and experiences directly related to increasing exports, amongst companies managed by women.”

For many businesses, these last two years have been a challenge because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, especially for small business which have felt some of the heavier impacts. At ProColombia they are focusing on a “brighter future!”. Flavia tells us “After the trainings we received from TFO Canada and the pilot programs we plan to carry out, we hope to offer the companies more support in order to close the gender gaps, increase commercial opportunities and minimize the impact of the pandemic.

As part of the Government and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism of Colombia, at ProColombia we strive to promote our country as a leading destination for Foreign Direct Investment, international tourism, and as a world-class provider of non-mining exports, within the framework of a gender equality policy.”

Overall, the GESI training has proven to be vital to the TSIs we have supported during this time. TFO Canada is happy to see the implementation of the strategies provided during trainings. We are committed to gender equality through our work by creating sustainable trade partnerships for exporters from developing countries. We would like to thank Flavia Santoro Trujillo, President of ProColombia for sharing their experiences.