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Ambassador Melanne Verveer Addresses Audience at Conference

Vital Voices’ commitment to women’s economic empowerment has always been integral to our mission. Recently, it has led to exciting opportunities for the expansion of our programming and the strengthening of our network within Latin America and the Caribbean.

A part of the Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas Initiative, launched in 2008, Vital Voices partnered with the State Department, Count Me In, Ernst & Young and Agora Partnerships to carry out Access, a conference that brought together aspiring women entrepreneurs from Latin America to Washington, DC on October 7-9.

The conference launched a long-term partnership between the U.S. State Department, civil, and corporate entities to create opportunities for professional growth for women entrepreneurs, while promoting trade and economic development. Among other activities, it featured networking opportunities, leadership and technical training with panels on access to finance, markets and technology featuring Vital Voices President Alyse Nelson, Global Vice Chairman of Ernst & Young Beth Brooke, Director of Corporate Sustainability Latin America for HSBC and Co-founder of Vital Voices El Salvador Maria Eugenia Brizuela de Avila, CEO of Count Me In Nell Merlino and Vital Voices Nicaragua Co-founder Mercedes Deshon. Other speakers included Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Minister Laura Albornoz of Chile, Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Under Secretary Maria Otero and Anne Marie Slaughter, Director of Policy and Planning for the US State Department.

Vital Voices Senior Program Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean Eugenia Podesta and Senior Program Officer for Europe and Eurasia Tanya Woynarowsky

The sessions provided concrete advice and a seasoned perspective for the attendees. The conference concluded with a trade show for the entrepreneurs and with the unveiling of the Pathways to Prosperity website, which will provide resources and tools for the participants to stay connected and share information. Above all, it became clear that a new and powerful network of women entrepreneurs from around the hemisphere was born and Vital Voices would like to welcome them to our Global Network of Women Leaders.