Non-profit Laboratoria has a clear mission — to empower women in Latin America who dream of a better future to gain transformative careers in technology. But this wasn’t always the goal. Laboratoria initially started as a modest web development company in Lima, Peru. 

“Our co-founders started to notice that they were having a really hard time finding developers, and when people did apply — it was all men,” said Karen Kelly, Regional Partnerships Director at Laboratoria. They also noticed most applicants didn’t learn about web development or programming in a traditional higher education setting. 

“Most of them were self-taught, using YouTube videos and online resources,” said Kelly.

This observation helped identify two critical gaps in the Latin American landscape: the underrepresentation of talented women in technology and the strong demand for tech talent in the region. With a newfound vision of fostering a more diverse, inclusive, and competitive digital economy, Laboratoria was born, along with a refreshed mission to empower women with the skills and opportunities to pursue transformative careers in technology.  

Now, nearly 10 years later, Laboratoria’s statistics show that approximately 70% of their students did not have any income at the time of applying, and for those who were employed, their salaries grew 3.7 times after participating in their bootcamp program.  

“It does not cease to amaze me that this type of economic and hence generational transformation is possible in just six months,” said Gabriela Rocha, co-founder and CEO of Laboratoria.

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Credit: Laboratoria

Boosting tech and life skills with training and bootcamps 

The non-profit organization offers immersive five-to six-month bootcamps that build technical skills like user experience (UX) design, web design and data analytics, but also teaches key life skills. 

“Many of our students are mothers or caregivers, juggling a lot of different things… so we work on not just the tech skills, but also the core skills you need to start a job and feel confident, communication skills you need, and resourcefulness to learn quickly as well,” said Kelly. She said, “these women need to adopt an attitude of ‘well, I don't know it yet, but I can figure it out’.”

Camila Flores, a Laboratoria bootcamp graduate from Chile, practiced that exact approach. A former long time ice-cream vendor, Flores said she wanted something more. 

“I never felt satisfied with my job. I wanted something that would challenge me and give me freedom,” said Flores in a testimonial

She reveals studying and learning the technology through Laboratoria was much harder than she anticipated, but she figured it out. 

“I am very proud to say I am starting a new phase of my career as a Quality Assurance trainee… I never thought my life would change so much in one year.” 

Many women applicants are facing the challenge of “deeply ingrained gender stereotypes and socioeconomic barriers that affect their access to quality education and job opportunities,” said Costa.

Gabriela Sene is another of the many success stories coming out of Laboratoria. A former customer service representative, Sene took what she describes as a “scary” leap into the technology sector thanks to the agency. 

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Credit: Laboratoria


“I carried with me the dream of exploring technology as a developer,” said Sene. 

She now proudly holds a job as a Systems Analyst in Brazil. “This is the first open door, and I will make it count,” she said.

Upon completion of the bootcamp, graduates are connected to quality tech jobs, with 77.5% of graduates landing a job in the tech sector. They also become part of an alumnae community of over 3,800 women who support each other to grow as potential future leaders in the industry.

Partnering with Scotiabank 

Laboratoria operates as a non-profit entity and relies on a collaborative model that engages partners and donors to ensure financial sustainability. The organization has forged strategic alliances with companies, like Scotiabank, that help them to advance their mission. 

As part of ScotiaRISE, the Bank partnered in 2023 with Laboratoria to offer more opportunities for Latin American women to get access to training and jobs in the flourishing tech industry. ScotiaRISE is Scotiabank's 10-year, $500-million community investment initiative to strengthen economic resilience by helping people overcome the challenges they face so that they can more fully participate in the economy.

“We could not do this without our partners,” said Kelly.  “We're super grateful that Scotiabank increased the support we were receiving to focus on potential new markets, and we are discussing more of what can be done.”

“Laboratoria’s efforts to lift women through practical education, training, networking and supporting women’s confidence is so well aligned with our aim for ScotiaRISE to help people be work ready, increase their employment prospects and generate greater prosperity in their lives,” said Maria Saros, Vice President & Global Head, Social Impact at Scotiabank. “We are pleased to support this innovative program and help to facilitate greater inclusion for women across our Latin American footprint within the tech industry.” 

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Credit: Laboratoria

Expanding Horizons 

As Laboratoria celebrates its 10-year anniversary since its launch in Peru, the organization has expanded its reach to multiple countries including Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama, Bolivia, Uruguay and Paraguay.  

“Our model is so reliant on what is happening in the world, the pandemic was make-it-or-break-it, and then 2023 was a very challenging year in terms of the tech sector and mass layoffs, and the general slow down of the economy,” said Kelly.

Despite facing challenges such as economic fluctuations and technological advancements, the organization remains agile, continuously adapting its curriculum and training to meet evolving industry demands. 

“By maintaining close partnerships with hiring companies and alumni engagement initiatives, Laboratoria ensures ongoing support for its graduates' professional growth and development,” said Kelly. 

Future Endeavours 

Laboratoria acknowledges that while demand will forever change and evolve, the tech sector will continue to be a source of unique opportunities in their region, fueling their ambitious goals. In the coming year alone they will be growing Laboratoria+, a community for women who want to accelerate their careers and experiment with new products. “We hope that very soon companies can find all their talent needs with us,” said Rocha.

The organization boldly outlines its hope to transform the face of the industry. “It is urgent that we address the gender gap now, together with hiring companies and society at large… more women working in technology means more women building the future of our region,” she said.