Maria Claudia Gaitán Didier, Owner and President of Gadier Sistemas Profesionales de Información Ltda, started her Documentation Management and Information Systems business about 30 years ago in Bogotá, Colombia. Originating in personal capital with only a few clients, Maria quickly experienced the challenges that many women-owned small enterprises face: the inability to grow and scale.
After fifteen years in business, Maria became frustrated by the lack of growth, “We still only had a couple of clients, which was both rewarding and frustrating after so many years of hard work,” she said. As one of the few women in the field of information systems at the time, Maria was determined to overcome the obstacles that stood in her way.
In order to gain access to markets and capital, Maria knew she needed to grow. She registered with WEConnect International for access to a network of corporations with opportunities and to learn from and make connections with over 9,000 women entrepreneurs. Maria also participated in capacity building training, which provided her with the information she needed to expand.
Before long, Maria formed a relationship with a bank in Colombia, where she eventually acquired a free investment loan that enabled her to purchase a warehouse and new equipment. The new equipment enabled her to double her operations and grow her client base from just a few to a dozen, as the workforce and ability to respond to client requests exponentially improved. WEConnect International’s network of large businesses along with capital from the loan gave Maria the boost she needed to open a second line of work to accommodate libraries and information centers.
“The word debt or loan will always be my greatest terror as I sleep”, says Maria, but in 2020 she will have finished all payments due, “and all property and warehouses will finally be officially ours.” It was the access to both markets and capital that gave Gadier Sistemas Profesionales de Información Ltda the opportunity to overcome obstacles to grow and scale.
Maria’s story is one we hear daily and in an increasingly interconnected global economy, the data speaks for itself—women are catalysts for sustainable growth. Closing the gender gap in the workforce could add trillions of dollars to the global GDP in the next few years. With more evidence continuing to emerge, private and public sector leaders around the world have started to make real investments to empower women in order to generate wealth and contribute to the sustainable prosperity of their communities. Corporations, organizations, and governments must continue to work together so that women-owned SMEs can access both markets and capital to grow and scale their businesses and continue to positively impact their communities and the global economy.