Bolivian entrepreneur Francisca Dominguez stands out among a new breed of businesswomen in the food sector of Latin America. Fourteen years ago she started selling fried chicken from a cart in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Today she heads a poultry products company called Pollos Panchita with 80 employees.

The key to success from the beginning was her original recipe for fried chicken. After four years of selling from the cart, Francisca and her husband opened a small restaurant. As her chicken became known throughout the metropolitan area, other full service restaurants followed. Then, impressed with the success of international fast food franchises, Panchita launched into the fast food sector as well.

Over the years, sales have risen from three to almost 1000 chickens per day. Panchita's administrator Sigfrido Arandina attributes her success to her attention to basics: good service, flavour, and above all, hygiene.

Although many women in the region sell food from their homes, Panchita joined the growing ranks of women who have taken the step of establishing formal businesses. Over the next few years, greater acceptance of women as business owners will lead to the creation of many more small to medium-sized businesses like Panchita's throughout Latin America.

By Steve Lewis, just-food.com correspondent