Mercedes García came to Lima two decades ago from the Andes mountains, striving for a better life: she was alone, with few resources and options, and two children to feed. Today, she has been able to move her family from a single room to a house, and her two children are now university students. Mercedes is one of the one million independent beauty consultants at Belcorp.
Belcorp, a Peruvian beauty products company founded in 1968, is one of the three largest direct sales beauty products company in Latin America. According to Direct Selling News, in 2011 Belcorp ranked among 10 of the largest direct sales companies in the world. Driven by its vision “to be the company that most contributes to bringing women closer to their ideal of beauty and personal fulfilment”, the company considers its beauty consultants its main asset.
Using direct sales as a key marketing strategy, the company offers each consultant an opportunity to progress by establishing her own business and starting a path to personal and professional fulfilment. In fact, Belcorp’s business model is centred on the belief that women are agents of social change, having the ability to transform the lives of their children and their communities.
More than 9,000 employees in 16 countries in North and South America are driven by the understanding that a “beauty consultant’s success is Belcorp’s success”: a statement used as a ‘mantra’ by the company’s founder and CEO, Eduardo Belmont.
Challenging the cosmetics sector
Belcorp is committed to achieving its vision and solving key problems for its consultants through women’s empowerment, offering not only economic benefits, but also promoting their personal and professional development. The company offers a business opportunity by providing a source of income with flexible working hours, which allow women to combine family and other professional activities.
The company has additionally developed an integral solution to attend to its consultant’s financial needs, since the lack of access to financial services affects the opportunities of women to grow their businesses. Its key programmes are:
– Familia Protegida (Family Protected): A life insurance policy with hospitalisation assistance, which has already benefited 160,000 underserved women in six countries in Latin America. To date, insurance premiums have been paid to more than 3,000 low-income families.
– Flexipago (Flexible Payment): A preferred credit line of working capital that allows consultants to finance their orders in 63 days. Flexipago, which also includes training to run their own business, boosts the consultant’s entrepreneurial spirit by facilitating loans which otherwise would not be available to them in the traditional banking system.
– Crece Segura (Grow Secure): A micro-savings programme that allows consultants to work towards saving enough money to accomplish their mid-term goal.
Belcorp has confirmed its commitment to sustainable development and women’s empowerment through different alliances with international organisations. As a member of the World Bank’s Global Private Sector Leaders Forum, Belcorp committed in 2009 to financially include 50,000 underserved women in Latin America within three years. Belcorp has by far exceeded its initial commitment by becoming the company with the largest number of micro insurance holders in Latin America.
In October 2012, at the international conference Power: Women as an Engine of Growth and Social Inclusion, Belcorp committed – before world leaders such as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the UN Women’s Executive Director Michelle Bachelet – to keep working in favour of the financial inclusion of women. The company set a goal of creating 500,000 beneficiaries by 2015.
By 2020, Belcorp expects to reach three million women with a solid social inclusion agenda. The programme will give them access to microcredit, savings and life insurance, allowing them to reach their dreams and keep positioning the company as a leader in women’s empowerment in Latin America.
A recipe for growth
A unique aspect of Belcorp is that it is mostly run by women and for women. Women constitute 72 percent of the company’s workforce and 79 percent of its senior staff: 51 percent of its employees are mothers. It offers breast-feeding facilities for mothers, and flexitime policies to all staff (male and female): a novel practice in Latin America.
In 2011, Belcorp ranked 12th among the best 25 multinationals to work in Latin America, according to Great Place to Work. Its brands embody Belcorp´s beauty ideal, which is a beauty that comes from the inside, the beauty of a successful woman and owner of her future.
Created 10 years ago, the Belcorp Foundation is aligned with the company’s vision for women’s empowerment. It delivers two key programmes: Grandes Mujeres (Great Women), focused on promoting women’s self-esteem, and Mujeres Iluminando Mujeres (Women Enlightening Women), focused on granting scholarships.
Present in 12 countries, the foundation has already provided more than 1,500 scholarships to young Latin American girls from vulnerable sectors. In alliance with local civic organisations, it has trained more than 14,000 low-income adult women in personal development, violence prevention and economic development. By 2020, Belcorp plans to have expanded its foundation across Latin America and reached over 100,000 beneficiaries.