If there’s one thing that I’ve heard from all my expat friends is that they have a really hard time making friends in Medellín. Women, especially, have a hard time meeting other (specifically local) women in the city.
So, when I attended an expat women’s brunch a few months back, I was so relieved to see a room full of women ready to meet, share and think about how to work together. The event organizer caught on to the popularity of this event and moved forward.
There are so many women entrepreneurs in Medellín: from cafe and restaurant owners to women’s group leaders, to clothing brand founders and so much more.
Entrepreneurship in Medellín is hardly a taboo topic. Both locals and visitors, men and women in the city are constantly thinking up business ideas, making them into a reality.
Facebook: A place for Locals, Expats, and Businesses
You can see this boom of small businesses in the city in the many Facebook groups for expats and visitors of Medellín such as Doing Business and Living in Medellín, Medellin Entrepreneur Society, Digital Nomads Medellin, among others.
Members will frequently ask for recommendations and members will offer help or services, many times plugging their own businesses.
This is a great way for those who live in the city to not only communicate with others but share and receive ideas and create (arguably) effective business marketing.
However, if we really look at the gender diversity of the posts on these groups, we’ll notice that it pretty male-dominated. The reason behind this is unclear to me at this point, I can’t say that women are less participative or that there are fewer women expats in Medellín.
What I do know, however, is that all of the aforementioned groups were started by men, but when you look at a list of members, you quickly see the faces of local and foreign women right along those of men. In most groups, the membership seems to be almost even.
On the other hand, I had to scroll down ten male posts to reach a female one, and most comments are from male expats or locals.
This is not to say that there is no use in being a part of these groups. Both men and women find a great deal of information, recommendations, items for sale, etc. via these Facebook communities. However, these communities are largely virtual and impersonal (or at times too personal for a public group) and this is how new groups form to accommodate the alternative needs of members.
Finding a Place for Women on Medellín Facebook Groups
I spoke to Eleni Cotsis about this, founder of the Women Entrepreneurs of Medellín group on Facebook. She said that during her time in Medellín she’s had experience organizing events for several types of groups.
She approached the Medellin Entrepreneur Society group to create events to bring people together, go from facebook to face-to-face, beyond a virtual community. It was then that she noticed the lack of female representation in these groups.
Apparently, MES would have occasional events in the past, but it had been some time. After not having much luck there, Eleni decided she could create a group of her own and fill two gaps at once: the lack of face-to-face gatherings and the missing representation of women, specifically women entrepreneurs.
Of course, the Women Entrepreneurs of Medellín group is not entirely unique. There is also Geek Girls Latam for Latin American women in tech, Expat Women in Medellín, among other women developer and empowerment groups. What makes this group unique is that there are both expat and Colombian women and that there are constantly opportunities to meet these women in person, making it more than a virtual community.
What makes this group unique is that there are both expat and Colombian women and that there are constantly opportunities to meet these women in person, making it more than a virtual community.
Women have day-to-day support in what they’re doing and can easily find other women to work, meet up, or even share a coffee with!
Women Entrepreneurs Medellín
It all started with one expat women’s brunch, which I actually pushed myself to attend. I walked into a room full of people I didn’t know and came out with a lot of new acquaintances, work contacts, and one really good friend! I was shocked that It really could be that easy.
Several events later, there are 418 members in the Women Entrepreneurs Medellín group and posts vary from links to investing articles, sharing of projects like Reiki, women’s groups, introductions, business plugs and messages of gratefulness.
Women Owned Businesses
Some of the businesses highlighted in these groups are:
- Reiki Energy Studio
- A que te KB una arepa
- El Gran Closet
- Moré Chocolatería
- Siembra Coworking
- La Jalapeña
- Check out the group for more!
The group events vary from talks from local entrepreneurs to Friday drinks, get-togethers at local co-working spaces and in the future will probably expand to much bigger conferences and meetings as the group continues to grow.
These events take the group to another level, often forming bonds between members, introducing newcomers to Medellín, and even helping members land jobs and internships.
This year, they’ll also host a Start-up weekend and will continue to have monthly meetups, so join the group for the latest updates!
This group is making a real difference for local women in how they interact with other women in the city as well as how they share their projects and help other local businesses grow. I believe it is one more way to keep the entrepreneurial spirit in Medellin, and support and grow the local economy.
What groups improve your experience in Medellin? Tell us in the comments below!