Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas
Gender Equality

AQ Top 5 Champions of Gender Equality: Susana García-Robles

The investor helping women go after their dreams.
García-Robles leads a breakout session on funding startups at a conference in 2019.Courtesy of LAVCA

This article is adapted from AQ’s special report on closing the gender gap | Leer en español | Click here to see the rest of our Top 5

Throughout her life, and after two decades developing Latin America’s venture capital industry, Susana García-Robles has learned that women’s empowerment is not something you talk about — it’s something you do.

Growing up in Argentina with two sisters raised by their mother and grandmother, “nobody ever told me there was such a thing as advocacy for women,” García-Robles told AQ. Rather, “my mother just said, ‘You’re going to get to where you want — just go for it.’”

It was a “visionary” manager at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) that showed young García-Robles what empowerment looks like in practice.

“My boss was somebody who allowed me to spread my wings,” she said. “He never told us to advocate for women. He put it into action.”

García-Robles spent 21 years at the IDB’s Multilateral Investment Fund — now known as IDB Lab — advising governments and investing in seed and venture capital funds all over Latin America. What she saw was an investment ecosystem that was failing women entrepreneurs. In 2012 she decided to commission a pioneering study on the challenges for high-growth women entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The findings pointed to a clear problem: Women lacked the professional networks that successful entrepreneurs needed to grow. García-Robles then co-founded WeXChange, a platform under the IDB umbrella that connects women entrepreneurs with mentors, investors and other entrepreneurs. In 2019, she partnered with Marta Cruz of Argentina’s NXTPLabs to create WeInvest for women investors.

Just as the coronavirus began disrupting the global economy, García-Robles left the IDB in March to join the investment firm Capria and the Latin America Venture Capital Association as executive adviser. And she’s optimistic that women entrepreneurs — and the “holistic view” they bring to the table — will be vital to bringing Latin America out of these crises.

“Women are good with having less money and making miracles,” García-Robles told AQ. “We just have to highlight them.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brendan O'Boyle is a senior editor at Americas Quarterly, where he writes about Latin American politics, produces the Americas Quarterly Podcast, and manages the publication’s social media presence. Brendan has been featured as an expert on Latin American issues in various outlets, including The Washington PostTelevisa and El País.

Tags: Entrepreneurship, Gender, Impact investing, investment in Latin America
Like what you've read? Subscribe to AQ for more.
Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
Sign up for our free newsletter