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September 23, 2021

Policy Lab / Summit Talks

Young Women Entrepreneurs and COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean

A Policy Lab session of the Young Americas Forum, to facilitate research evidence uptake into policy and practice, with a special focus on youth.

The Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) and the Summits of the Americas Secretariat of the Organization of American States, join efforts to support OAS Member States in shaping economic recovery strategies from COVID-19; through knowledge sharing and a support platform to promote innovation and entrepreneurship among young women.

In collaboration with the Gender Innovation Lab for Latin America and the Caribbean of the World Bank, a virtual event (Policy Lab) will convene policy makers and development practitioners in a conversation on the gendered impact of COVID-19 in the region and key findings on innovative approaches to reactivate economic activity with young women and entrepreneurship in mind.


Opening Remarks
Valerie Lorena
Executive Director, Young Americas Business Trust

Valerie is responsible for design, implementation and expansion of hemipheric and subregional programs on youth entrepreneurship, leadership and innovation involving multiple sectors and international stakeholders in Latin America and the Caribbean. Lorena has a background on international business and holds a Trilateral-MBA from the following universities Western Illinois University in the U.S., Université de Moncton in Canada and Universidad Autónoma in Mexico

Maria Celina Conte
Director, Summits of the Americas Secretariat at the Organization of American States (OAS)

Manages and directs the Summits of the Americas Secretariat of the OAS since September 2017. The Summits Secretariat is the Technical Secretariat and institutional memory of the Summits of the Americas Process. In that capacity, advises the Chair and member states and serves as the technical secretary of the political and technical bodies of the Summits Process, including the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG), comprised by the Participating States, the Joint Summit Working Group (JSWG), which involves 13 international and regional organizations, and the participation mechanisms of civil society and social actors in the Summits Process. Before joining the Summits Secretariat, Mrs. Conte served as Senior Specialist at the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) of the OAS for almost nine years, managing the OAS Gender Program and leading efforts aimed at the advancement of gender equality and women’s rights perspective at the OAS and member states. Previously, for fourteen years she served as Specialist in the OAS Department of Science, Technology, and Innovation, where she managed regional technical cooperation programs and advised on science and technology policy. In her 25-year career at the OAS in Washington, D.C., she has managed and implemented hemispheric, institutional, and regional technical cooperation programs involving governments, international multilateral organizations, the productive sector, civil society, and social actors. She has advised and facilitated political and technical dialogue, as well as negotiations leading to the adoption of the hemispheric agenda in the framework of the Summit of the Americas and sectoral ministerial meetings. Mrs. Conte holds two Master’s Degrees, one in International Public Policy (MIPP) from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a Master’s Degree in International Trade and Policy from George Mason University. She also has a degree in Business Administration from the Universidad del Pacífico from her native country, Peru.

Yadira Pinilla
Chairwoman, Board of Directors, Young Americas Business Trust

Ms. Pinilla is a Senior Adviser to the Department for Human Development, Education, & Employment at the Organization of American States. Ms. Pinilla has over 20 years of experience in international affairs and multilateral diplomacy. In her previous position, as political advisor, she advised on issues of security, democracy, political crisis and youth development. Ms. Pinilla has been the Chairwoman of the YABT since 2016 and has held various positions within the Executive Committee. She holds a MA in Conflict Management in Public Policy (1995) and a BA in Latin American Studies (1988) at George Mason University, graduate diplomas in peacebuilding from American University and Eastern Mennonite University.

Ximena V. Del Carpio
Practice Manager of the Poverty and Equity Practice Group for LAC, World Bank

While at the World Bank, Dr. Del Carpio has provided policy advice to governments in Latin America, East Asia and the Pacific, and Europe and Central Asia region. Prior to her current position, she worked as program leader for social inclusion in Turkey, as senior economist in the Social Protection and Labor Global Practice, the Independent Evaluation Group, and the Human Development teams of the World Bank. Dr. Del Carpio has led various operational and technical assistance tasks in the areas of employment, social assistance, economic and forced migration, education, and skills, as well as analytical tasks focusing on labor and education policy, rural development, and social safety nets. She has written and published numerous academic and policy papers, and reports on a range of economic development topics. Dr. Del Carpio holds a Ph.D. in political economy and an M.A. in economics from the University of Southern California, a dual master’s degree in public policy and business administration.

Main Presentation speakers
Jacobus Joost De Hoop
Senior Economist with the Poverty and Equity Practice Group for LAC and Program Lead of the LAC Gender Innovation Lab, World Bank

Before joining the World Bank, Jacob worked as a humanitarian policy research manager at UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, was a member of the Transfer Project, worked as a researcher at the International Labour Organization (ILO), and was affiliated with the Paris School of Economics as a Marie Curie Post-Doctoral Fellow. He holds a PhD in economics from the Tinbergen Institute and VU University in Amsterdam.

Javier Romero
Economist in the World Bank’s Poverty and Equity Practice for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Gender Innovation Lab of the region (LACGIL)

His work focuses on economic development, gender, labor, and health, where he uses experimental and quasi-experimental methods to guide policy making. At the World Bank, Javier has contributed to the country programs of Bolivia, Costa Rica, Peru, Guatemala, and Panama. Before joining the Bank, Javier worked at the Research Center of Universidad de Piura, Peru, the Central Bank of Peru, and co-founded a non-profit organization that works in sustainable development projects in the Amazon forest. Javier holds a PhD and MA in economics from Duke University and a BA and Licenciatura in economics from Universidad de Piura.

Eliana Rubiano-Matulevich
Economist with the World Bank Poverty Global Practice (GP) and the Regional Gender Coordinator for the Latin America and the Caribbean Region

Before joining the Poverty GP, she served as an Economist with the Gender Group where she was the focal point for Human Development sectors. She first joined the Bank in 2006 as a consultant working for the Office of the Chief Economist for the Latin America and the Caribbean Region. From 2008-2010 Eliana was a Junior Professional for the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network. She has worked in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, South Asia, and in the Middle East. Eliana also held positions at the Inter-American Development Bank and at the Central Bank of Colombia. Prior to rejoining the Bank in 2015, she was a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist with the Global Partnership for Education. She holds a Ph.D. from Maastricht University School of Business and Economics, and Master’s degree in Public Administration from Columbia University and a Master’s degree in Economics from Universidad Javeriana in Bogota (Colombia).

Leonardo Iacovone
Lead Economist in the Finance, Competitiveness, and Innovation Global Practice at the World Bank

Before joining the WB Leonardo worked as economic advisor in Latin America and Southern Africa for UNDP, WTO, UNIDO, EU, and the Government of Mozambique. Leonardo studied at Bocconi University, University Torquato di Tella, and received a PhD in Economics from University of Sussex. Leonardo is also Adjoint Professor of Economics at Hertie School, a Research Affiliate with IPA SMEs Initiative and Affiliated Researcher with JPAL. His research has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Review of Economic Studies, Economic Journal, Journal of Development Economics, Journal of International Economics, etc.

Closing remarks
S.E. Celina Esther Lezcano Flores
Minister for Women, Ministry of Women, Paraguay

She is Paraguayan and graduated in Hotel and Tourism from the Catholic University Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. Celina Lezcano has been Minister of Women since March 2021. She has a diploma in Pedagogy and Higher Education from Columbia University. She has wide experience in leading and management positions in the private sector. She has several recognitions from organizations working in the business sector. She was selected by the U.S. Embassy as Businesswoman of Latin America and the Caribbean 2016 “WE AMERICA 2016” and in 2017 was awarded as Women Leader Ambassador of Nonviolence of Paraguay. In addition, in 2018 she was recognized for her participation in the Conference “Innovative and passionate Women of the Business and Professional World. Reconciling family and work life, for the contribution to social development in Paraguay”, by the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security. Before taking up her position as Minister, Celina Lezcano was President of the Paraguayan Association of Business, Executive and Professional Women (APEP) from 2017 to 2021. Driver, creator, and Coordinator of the Programs: DreamBuilder– Business Creator for Women (Selected by the U.S. Embassy – 2017), and the Economic Empowerment of Indigenous Women/Qom in the Paraguayan Chaco “Innovation in Indigenous Crafts” 2020-2021.

Beatriz Piñeres
Specialist, Inter-American Commission of Women of the Organization of American States (CIM/OAS)

An economist and expert in gender and women’s human rights, Beatriz has worked as a Specialist with the Inter-American Commission of Women of the Organization of American States (CIM/OAS) since 2017. She is in charge of the areas of women’s economic empowerment and institutional strengthening and gender mainstreaming, both internally at the OAS and with Member States. Prior to joining the CIM, Ms. Piñeres worked in other areas of the OAS since 2003, in particular advising high-level meetings and the Summits of the Americas process. She holds an undergraduate degree in Economics with a minor in Political Science, from Wheaton College in Massachusetts, and a Master’s degree in Applied Economics from Johns Hopkins University. She has also completed a Graduate Certificate in International Business Management from Georgetown University.

Luis Viguria
Chief Executive Officer, Young Americas Business Trust

Luis Viguria is the Chief Executive Officer of the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) an affiliated nonprofit corporation to the Organization of American States with the objective of supporting the social and economic development of young people in the Western Hemisphere and around the world.


With more than 20 years of experience on youth development at the international level in areas such as sustainable development, innovation, competitiveness, entrepreneurship, citizen participation among other priorities of the region. Among his responsibilities are the strategic planning of the organization, the development of alliances and the definition of priorities to be addressed through the different programs and activities developed by YABT.


Luis Viguria firmly believes in the role of youth as partners for development and the importance of creating spaces for their effective participation in the decision-making process at all levels. His experience has allowed him to work and coordinate programs in all the OAS Member States, working directly with governments, private sector and civil society organizations and international development agencies and organizations, always connectingyouth and sustainable development. Through programs such as the Eco Challenge, the Talent and Innovation Competitions of the Americas (TIC Americas), the Business Labs or the Young Americas Forum, he supported thousands of young people in the Americas in their professional and personal development.


Luis Viguria has been a speaker at global and hemispheric forums organized by organizations such as the European Union, The United Nations, The World Bank, The Inter-American Development Bank, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Organization of American States among others, where he presented not only his vision on development, entrepreneurship, and youth, but also shared his perspective as young entrepreneur and Latin American professional in the international arena.


Luis studied economics at Pontificia Universidad Cattolica del Perú, obtained a certification on Business Administration at Georgetown University and a master’s degree in international development at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. He currently lives and works in Washington, D.C, together with his wife and two kids.


The Young Americas Business Trust (YABT), is a nonprofit international organization that works in cooperation with the Organization of American States (OAS), to promote social and economic development of young people around the world.


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