Leadership in Latin America: How Women are Driving Medellin’s Entrepreneurial Revolution

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Medellin has held tightly onto the title of “The Silicon Valley of Latin America”, whether or not this is true is up for debate, but one thing that is not debatable is that this is a city that has been an absolute hotbed of female-led businesses. I have met with four incredible ladies to give you an idea of the caliber of female leadership that is present in this beautiful city. I wanted to show  two local business leaders as well as a couple of ex-pats who have come to Medellin and are helping out the local economy all while leading from the front. 

Beatriz, CEO – Crepes and Waffles

I was honored to have a conversation with Beatriz Fernández, the dynamic CEO of Crepes and Waffles, a culinary mainstay in Colombia. Beatriz embodies the spirit of innovation and compassion that the company has been known for. Under her leadership, this beloved Colombian restaurant chain has flourished, earning a reputation for its delectable menu and its commitment to social responsibility. With over 30 years in business, Crepes and Waffles has become a culinary institution, renowned for its crepes, waffles, salads, and ice creams, all crafted from the finest local ingredients.

Leadership in Latin America: How Women are Driving Medellin's Entrepreneurial Revolution -

Beatriz’s journey with Crepes and Waffles began in 1980, when she and her husband, Eduardo Macía, opened their first restaurant in Bogotá. Their vision was simple yet profound: to create a warm, welcoming space where people could enjoy high-quality, affordable food. This vision quickly resonated with customers, leading to rapid expansion across Colombia and eventually to international markets.

What sets Crepes and Waffles apart is not just its delicious food, but its heart. Beatriz has championed a business model that prioritizes hiring women, especially single mothers, providing them with stable employment and opportunities for growth. This compassionate approach has cultivated a loyal, motivated workforce, and fostered a sense of community and purpose within the company.

Under Beatriz’s guidance, Crepes and Waffles has also embraced sustainability, sourcing ingredients responsibly and minimizing environmental impact. This commitment to ethical practices has endeared the brand to socially-conscious consumers and reinforced its reputation as a business that truly cares.

If you want to know more about the charitable work that Crepes and waffles does, you can find them all over social media at @crepesywafles or you can visit their website at crepesywaffles.com.co

Sierra – Red Thread Publishing

Sierra Melcher, is not only an multiple award winning author, she is also the inspiring President of Red Thread Publishing, which has become synonymous with creativity and empowerment in the Colombian literary landscape. Red Thread Publishing has flourished, establishing itself as a nurturing haven for authors seeking to share their unique stories with the world.

Sierra’s journey with Red Thread Publishing began with a deep passion for storytelling and a commitment to amplifying diverse voices. Her background in education and creative writing equipped her with the tools to guide aspiring authors through the intricate process of bringing their ideas to life. This dedication to fostering literary talent has become the cornerstone of Red Thread Publishing’s mission.

Red Thread Publishing stands out not just for the books it produces, but for the supportive community it cultivates. Sierra has created an environment where authors feel valued and empowered, offering personalized coaching, workshops, and a collaborative network. This holistic approach ensures that each author’s journey is as enriching as the final product.

What makes Sierra’s accomplishments so much more impressive is that she is doing all of this while being a single parent. While navigating a busy publishing schedule, she also has a precocious elementary school aged child who is thriving as much as the authors that Sierra mentors. If there were 50 hours in every day, Sierra would easily occupy those as well. 

There are a few very important considerations to consider when talking about single parents who are entrepreneurs, it’s said that less than 20% of entrepreneurs last more than one year in business, then on top of that, being the parent of a child as well as the various fur babies that Sierra has at her side is a full time job. She masterfully balances 2 full-time jobs, all while doing so in a foreign country. I know that Sierra is too humble to say this, so I will – what she does is akin to juggling 10 items at one, but 5 of them are on fire; however she makes it look seamless. 

If you have a story and are willing to put in the work to make your story jump off the page, you can find Sierra at @redthreadpublishing or on the web at http://www.redthreadbooks.com

Lauren – Move & Invest Medellin

Lauren Gibbs, born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, has always had a passion for Spanish and Latin culture. This blossomed during a high school immersion trip to the Dominican Republic, solidifying her desire to become fluent in Spanish and call Latin America her home. She pursued Diplomacy & International Relations at Seton Hall University, New Jersey, which exposed her to diverse cultures. A year-long study abroad in Lima, Peru, and a visit to Medellín, Colombia, in 2015, convinced her to move abroad after graduation.

Despite language fluency, settling in Medellín was challenging, as it tends to be for many who uproot their lives and move to a foreign country – I know that it was a huge challenge for me as well. This inspired Lauren to establish her business, Move & Invest Medellín (MIMedellin), to assist foreigners with relocation and investment hurdles. She aims to bridge cultural gaps and contribute positively to her adopted city.

As a female entrepreneur, Lauren faces self-doubt and societal biases. She acknowledges that women in business often endure more criticism and rejection. While it’s difficult to quantify if gender affects her business dealings, she senses a discrepancy in how her charges are perceived. Nevertheless, she remains steadfast in her worth and charges accordingly, refusing to work with those who make the huge mistake of undervaluing her due to her gender.

Lauren advises aspiring female entrepreneurs to think creatively, seek mentorship, network, and take risks. She notes that Medellín, though rapidly growing, presents unique challenges for women, especially foreigners. Embracing online business opportunities can be particularly beneficial.

In a male-dominated expat community, Lauren is determined to make a positive impact through her YouTube channel, which contrasts with content focused on negative stereotypes. She challenges the sexist perceptions that undermine women’s intelligence, leadership potential, and worth. By pursuing entrepreneurship, she aims to inspire women to reclaim their agency and break free from patriarchal constraints.

Lauren has also excelled in creating content about her adopted home. The majority of the content on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram is typically based around partying, drinking and the other vices that Medellin is known for. “LaurenLaGringaLatina” as she’s known on YouTube creates educational content about topics important to people. I personally like her video about the Medellin Metro system. It was a great objective look at it, not a hit piece, but also not a love letter to it. It’s very factual and helpful, just as the rest of her content is. 

Lauren encourages women to stay ambitious, embrace risks, and believe in their potential to achieve anything. If you are thinking about moving to Medellin and feel overwhelmed by the process and want to have a seasoned vet helping you through the process, you can find Lauren in many places online, first on https://moveandinvestmedellin.com, on Instagram @laurenlagringalatina, or on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/c/LaGringaLatina


Ana Maria Girado is a trailblazing entrepreneur in Medellin, Colombia, navigating the complex landscape of traditional gender roles and societal expectations with grace and determination. As the founder of her company, she has faced significant challenges, particularly in securing funding, building networks, and accessing opportunities that are often more readily available to her male counterparts. Despite these hurdles, Ana has emerged as a formidable leader, balancing the demands of her business with family responsibilities in a culture where family roles are often extremely traditional.

Starting her career at a young age, Ana encountered skepticism and judgment, with many equating her youth to inexperience. However, she turned these challenges into opportunities for growth, proving her capabilities and earning the respect of her peers. Her resilience and unwavering commitment to her vision have not only driven her success but also inspired many other women in the business community.

Ana’s advice to fellow female entrepreneurs is rooted in her own experiences: build strong networks, prioritize self-care, and embrace continuous learning. She understands the importance of surrounding oneself with a supportive community and the need to maintain well-being amidst the demands of running a business. Continuous learning, she believes, is crucial in staying ahead and adapting to the ever-evolving business landscape.

Despite the strides made towards gender equality, Ana acknowledges that the business world in Medellin can still feel like a “boys’ club.” However, she remains optimistic and proactive, advocating for changes that would reshape the perception of female entrepreneurs. She envisions a future where female entrepreneurs are celebrated as capable leaders, have access to robust networks connecting them with mentors and peers, and benefit from specialized training and education.

Ana Maria Girado is not just a businesswoman; she is a visionary leader working tirelessly to pave the way for future generations of female entrepreneurs in Colombia. Her dedication and passion are evident in every aspect of her work, making her a true beacon of empowerment and change.

If you would need any help with all things finances here, You can reach Ana Maria at +573002188818 or you can visit their website at https://asesoriashg.godaddysites.com/inicio%2Fhome

Ladies Leading from the Front

These are a few stories of the female led companies in Medellin thriving. There are many many others, and they deserve to have their stories told as well. Many of the businesses that cater to women are owned and operated by women here. This proves that the three ladies here are symbolic of the entrepreneurial spirit that the women of Medellin have. Frequently, you can go to many different establishments and the managers are women, as well as the staff are all female. 

Many female entrepreneurs here start their businesses out of necessity, because there is a stark lack of opportunity here, and these ladies don’t fold when faced with adversity. It makes them push harder to overcome the odds and obstacles. This is something that Beatriz, Sierra, Lauren and Ana Maria all share as well. If you know of a female-led business that needs to be spotlighted, comment below. I don’t want this to be a one-off article. I’d love to write about more of these incredible women as well as family businesses, comment below if you know of businesses we should be looking into. . 

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