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Strengthening Women Entrepreneurs in Peru

Amanda Roberson

"Alina always wanted to study at a university, but economic and family circumstances prevented her from continuing after high school. She is excited to dive further into the Proyecto Salta materials and use them to come out ahead with her bodega business."

–Amanda Roberson
Thunderbird MBA student and Proyecto Salta intern, right, describing one of her Peruvian consulting clients, Alina Castillo

Micro and small enterprises (SMEs) comprise 98% of all businesses in Peru and women own and operate 40% of these businesses. Women have the drive and initiative to start their own businesses, yet they face many barriers to growing their business, including access to capital and business training. As part of Thunderbird for Good's mission to promote women’s economic empowerment, the school collaborated on a two-pronged campaign called Strengthening Women Entrepreneurs in Peru (SWEP) to serve more than 100,000 women entrepreneurs in Peru over a four-year period beginning in 2010. The $7.5 million commitment includes major contributions from the Australian government, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women, Mibanco and the Multilateral Investment Fund of Inter-American Development Bank. Watch this video overview of the the SWEP program.

Proyecto Salta

The first component, called Proyecto Salta, was a countrywide training program focused on women micro-entrepreneurs. Salta included seminars, mentoring and other resources to help 100,000 women grow their businesses. Three-hour training sessions, held at community centers in urban and rural locations, stressed practical methods for improving business processes, building self-esteem and getting access to resources. The program incorporated innovative teaching methods, including a telenovela (soap opera) to teach basic business principles. Thunderbird student interns provided additional support as one-on-one mentors in Peru.

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women, Peru 

The second component is part of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative, a business certificate program for women small-business owners. The purpose of this program was to provide over 700 women with access to advanced business education, international networks, mentoring and capital. Women received extensive classroom instruction conducted by the Universidad del Pacifíco in Peru. In addition to classroom time, the women received personal business mentoring by Peruvian and international women executives.


An independent impact evaluation provides insights into the success of the program and the effect both the SALTA and 10,000 Women programs had on the women who had the opportunity to particiate in either or both of the programs. More than 103,000 women participated in the SWEP program. Read the Impact Evaluation.

Hear their stories

Listen to the women tell their stories about the effect SWEP made on their businesses, their lives and families. 


Download Program Brochure