June 28, 2022 – In the framework of its global Business Bootcamp program designed to help empower underprivileged people and victims of violence by affording them opportunities for socio-economic development, WPDI has teamed up with the UNHCR and the Western Union Foundation in Mexico to run business training courses for female victims of violence and female migrants.

In the Cerro Colorado neighborhood of Tijuana, 25 women took part in an entrepreneurship course offered by WPDI in May 2022 with the support of the Western Union Foundation. Fernanda Ontiveros was one of them. She described her experience: “In my professional experience, I have dealt with women who have been victims of violence and it fills me with motivation to see such strong women come together and learn! The trainer is highly skilled, is very entertaining and provides his own experience as part of the knowledge. I really enjoyed this course!”

Located right at the border between Mexico and the United States, Tijuana is known for hosting a high concentration of migrants from around Latin America, who often end up settling down in the city with few socio-economic perspectives. With this in mind, WPDI and UNHCR (ACNUR Mexico) brought together a group of migrant women hoping to integrate themselves into the local community and, to this effect, gain access to the different courses and support networks provided by the organizations. With the help of the Municipal Institute for Women, 25 women, who came from across Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Venezuela were, able to participate in the course. 

Ana Isabel Martínez, one of the trainees, was very happy to be offered such an opportunity: “I come from Honduras and these kinds of training programs usually cost a lot of money. With this new knowledge I’ve acquired, I would like to set up my food business soon. I feel very happy in Tijuana, I feel safer than in my country and I am sure that I will be able to persevere and provide for my family.”

The main attraction of the course for the participants was the opportunity to improve their life conditions in Tijuana, a city where, despite the difficulties of their existences as displaced persons, they feel safer than their home countries, where they often suffered from violence and marginalization within their communities. Josefina Picon, another participant, expressed her delight at the prospects that the course opened for her: “This is a brand new opportunity for me to get settled in this great country. Moises (the Business trainer) is interesting, patient and gives us great examples of what our business can be. I feel proud to be a part of the WPDI through business. I am trying my best since I am a busy mom, but I am highly motivated.”

During her field visit to Mexico, WPDI’s Executive Director Caroline Descombris was able to attend events with these two groups. She handed out certificates to the graduates in Cerro Colorado, and attended a special session with UNHCR and the beneficiaries of our program, conveying the message that WPDI is fully dedicated to its overarching mission of “leaving no one behind”.


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These specialized programs are part of WPDI’s wider efforts to put a special focus on the plight and the potential of women worldwide, a strategic refocusing for the next 10 years. While gender equality had always been central in our mandate, years of implementing programs for youth in conflict-affected and fragile areas revealed the scope of the challenges, including gender-based violence, faced by women in these places, and especially the extent to which their capacity for enacting socio-economic progress remains largely untapped, to the detriment of their communities. This led WPDI to step up our strategic drive to work even more for and with women as agents of peacebuilding and transformative change in fragile communities. At the same time, this effort will also reach out to men, including as promoters of gender equality and women’s empowerment. We are confident that, with this refocused and more comprehensive approach, we will be better positioned to help fragile communities become stronger and more resilient.

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