Winnie María María Lira Letelier

Ashoka Fellow
,
Fellow Since 2002
fundación Solidaridad

Citation

This profile was prepared when Winnie María María Lira Letelier was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2002.
The New Idea
Winnie recognizes that demand for original, top-quality products is growing as Chilean consumers are presented with more consumer options. Microsized businesses have been unable to compete with large companies and have traditionally suffered from formal barriers like complicated paperwork and licensing. These obstacles have had the greatest effect on women entrepreneurs, whose products are generally considered to be low in quality and appeal. Winnie is encouraging poor women to tap into increasingly sophisticated markets by organizing the women, then training them both to identify new work opportunities and to create competitive advantages for themselves. She emphasizes product value, market penetration, income-generation strategies, and access to government contracts.
After training, Winnie's group of microentrepreneurs innovatively tap into product niches unaddressed by larger firms, and they successfully bid on government tenders. Additionally, by proving that they can maintain relationships with a growing network of clients and compete with large companies, beneficiaries of Winnie's program have begun to influence small-business legislation throughout Chile. As a result of a productive business relationship with government clients, Winnie is helping launch an advocacy campaign to raise national minimum wage rates.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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