Tag Archives: EmprendeAhora

From the Field: EmprendeAhora Peru Ep. 1 – Jorge

(Watch the video in Spanish.)

During late August 2013, CIPE program officer Brent Ruth and I had the opportunity to travel through Peru to meet with EmprendeAhora alumni who have become amazing entrepreneurs. The purpose of this trip was to conduct an evaluation of the impact these alumni are having in their regions; however, I never could have imagined the impact their stories would have on me.

It was extremely motivating to hear how these alumni, with a little help from the EmprendeAhora program, gained the confidence to believe in themselves and in the entrepreneurial initiatives they’d only dreamed of before. Even more impressive was that they were all interested in doing business with a purpose. For them it was as important to have a positive social impact—if not more important— as to make a profit.

In order to share the positive social impact the EmprendeAhora alumni are having in their regions, Brent and I filmed our interviews with the alumni we met with in Peru. Throughout this year CIPE will publish a series of videos. The first video in the series tells the story of 2008 alum Jorge Luis Cueva Ramírez, co-owner and manager of a retreat hotel, Casa Cumbray Hotel de Campo in La Libertad, Peru.

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Bringing Youth Entrepreneurship Education to Rural Ecuador

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Over the course of June and July, nearly 1,000 high school and university students in cities throughout Ecuador learned about business plan development, leadership and communication, market economy, and democracy. However, they did not learn about these topics by reading their textbooks or from listening to a professional consultant or workshop facilitator. Uniquely, the message on the importance of a market economy, democracy, and an entrepreneurial climate came from a group of 45 aspiring young leaders and entrepreneurs. These 45 university students from rural areas of the country are the first participants in the Emprendedores Ecuatorianos (Ecuadorian Entrepreneurs) program organized by the Ecuadorian Institute of Political Economy (IEEP).

The Emprendedores Ecuatorianos program, launched earlier this year with local private sector and CIPE support, is modeled after the successful EmprendeAhora program in Peru. In this its first year, IEEP selected 45 participants based on a lengthy application process. The educational program took place from March to May at the Universidad del Espiritu Santo in Guayaquil and consisted of 100 hours of courses on leadership, business plans, democracy and economy, marketing, and human development.

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Technology Entrepreneurship in Latin America

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In recent decades, technology has opened the door for many young entrepreneurs in Latin America. Not only has it offered an open space to develop projects and ideas new to their region, but it also offers them the possibility of adapting the technologies they create to the specific needs in their environment. In turn, this accommodation to different environments potentially leads to the creation of original ideas that can be duplicated and transferred to other countries with similar environments.

In view of this potential, many multinational companies, such as Intel, 3M, Cisco, and Microsoft, have held numerous technology and innovation contests for university students and recent graduates throughout the region in order to gather talent into one single space in search of the next big idea.

On April 15, Intel held its Intel Challenge Latin America 2013 in coordination with YouNoodle, a company based in California that provides a technology platform for entrepreneurs worldwide to help organizations innovate at a quicker pace. During the first round of the Intel Challenge Latin America 2013, 221 projects from Peru, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Mexico entered the competition and only 45 passed on to the next round.

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Young Women Entrepreneurs Overcome Challenges in Peru

EmprendeAhora participants at the inauguration of the 2012-013 EmprendeAhora program. (Photo: EmprendeAhora)

EmprendeAhora participants at the inauguration of the 2012-013 EmprendeAhora program. (Photo: EmprendeAhora)

Entrepreneurship and business ownership is becoming an increasingly attractive career path for many young women in Latin America — with the help of programs like the CIPE-supported EmprendeAhora entrepreneurship and leadership courses in Peru.

In recent decades more and more women have begun to enter into the labor market and formal private sector, leading to an increased productivity for businesses and higher economic growth rates. As former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned at a recent conference, between 2000 and 2010, women’s participation in the labor market in Latin America and the Caribbean grew by 15 percent. Without such growth, the World Bank estimates that the level of extreme poverty in the region would be 30 percent higher. These facts demonstrate the importance of women actively participating in the formal economy.

Nevertheless, such participation is not always easy. Would-be women entrepreneurs have to overcome many obstacles in order to achieve economic independence. In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, as in many other regions, certain obstacles make it difficult for women to enter the formal private sector or become entrepreneurs. While in some cases legislation can create unnecessary hurdles, many times obstacles come in the shape of family members, societal norms, or even a lack of confidence that causes women to underestimate their own entrepreneurial capacity.

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How Youth are Using Facebook and Skype to Transform Peru

Internet use in Peru and throughout South America is growing rapidly. So how can youth use these tools to spur economic and democratic development? A young group of Peruvians demonstrate one way to do so.

As of March 31, 2012, there were 8,204,560 Facebook users in Peru; a respectable 28.1% penetration rate that puts Peru perfectly in line with Facebook usage in South America as a whole. Experience would suggest that younger Peruvians make up a large percentage of these users. We have seen time and again that as more reliable internet connections have arrived in developing countries around the world, youth are the first to latch on to the new technologies that come with them. Unsurprisingly, social networking tools like Facebook, Skype, and now Twitter are generally the first services to gain traction (not to mention social media sites like YouTube).

Given the vastness and diverse geography of Peru, opportunities for face-to-face interaction with people from other parts of the country are few and far between. Therefore, alumni from Instituto Invertir’s EmprendeAhora youth leadership and entrepreneurship program have increasingly used social media, particularly Facebook, to keep in touch and discuss democracy, rule of law, free markets, entrepreneurship skills, and leadership with one another and members of their communities.

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Sparking the Entrepreneurial Spirit: Teaching Youth How Democracy Delivers

Daniel Cordova accepts his Leading Practices award from CIPE Executive Director John D. Sullivan. (Photo: Staff)

Recent events around the world have shown the power of youth.  The Arab Spring has been fueled by young people who became disillusioned with the status quo and are ready for change.  In India, it was the youth that lead an anti-corruption protest movement.  But young people are more than just a conduit for political change: as future leaders and entrepreneurs they are a powerful force for economic development.  However, in many developing countries, young people do not understand the role they can play in a free-market economy, or are simply disinterested.

Overcoming this challenge and encouraging young people to participate was the focus of an event at the National Endowment for Democracy titled, “Democracy, Entrepreneurship and the Inclusion of Youth.”  A presentation by Daniel Cordova, president of CIPE partner Instituto Invertir in Peru, highlighted the fact that one of the main challenges facing free-market reforms in developing countries is the ambivalence that youth feel toward the relationship between democracy and economic development.

According to Cordova, 70% of Peruvian youth are comfortable with authoritarian regimes and feel that democracy does not work correctly.  This stems from what he calls “The Latin American Tragedy of the 20th Century.” In this tragedy, the role of the hero is played by democracy whose tragic flaw is being susceptible to populist policies resulting in economic recession.  This leads to a climactic coup d’état, where an authoritarian government restricts political freedom, but institutes good economic policies.  This cycle has repeated several times, and has created the perception that democracy is generally bad for the economy.

Instituto Invertir’s EmprendeAhora program, winner of CIPE’s 2011 Leading Practices Contest, focuses on promoting entrepreneurship and raising awareness of democracy, market economies, the rule of law, and the role of private enterprise.  A survey of EmprendeAhora Fellows prior to the program showed that only 39% disagreed with the idea that a free-market economy is only advantageous for large companies.  Similarly, 66% of Peruvian youth do not even give credence to the possibility of becoming entrepreneurs, instead believing that employment by an existing firm or government agency is the only way to make a living.

Focusing on the rural provinces where social conflict is rife, EmprendeAhora seeks to change participants’ assumptions about the free market.  Over the course of several months, the program engages Fellows on topics including developing business plans, corporate social responsibility, creativity and innovation.  All participants are required to complete a final project which includes a business plan, and a video on the relationship between democracy and the free-market.  Also included is a leadership component in which participants conduct a training session in their home towns drawing on what they have learned in the program.  The fellows who produce the best business plans are offered the option to report to investors in an attempt to secure funding for their businesses.

In the end, the participants of EmprendeAhora return to their home villages and towns with a fresh view on how democracy can deliver through entrepreneurship and the free market.  Since 2008, EmprendeAhora alumni have started over 40 companies spanning industries including ecotourism, IT, and architecture.

As Edith Peña (Class of 2008) said “EmprendeAhora sparked my entrepreneurial spirit…it’d never occurred to me to open my own business.”  The alumni also continue to educate the rural public about the benefits of a free market.

Though EmprendeAhora and similar CIPE projects around the world continue to show results and engage the youth, the link between youth, entrepreneurship, and economic development is generally not given due respect.  However the tide seems to be changing.  The Graduate School of Business at Stanford University recently received a $150 million donation to explore the linkages between economic development and entrepreneurship in developing countries.  Using the money, Stanford established the Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies on the belief “that a critical route for economic growth is through the creation of entrepreneurial ventures.”  The institute, known as SEED, is envisioned as having three directives: research, educate, and support.  By educating students from around the world in the skills and concepts necessary to become effective entrepreneurs hopefully Stanford will effectively replicate EmprendeAhora’s success on a global scale.

CIPE Latin America Program Officer Brent Ruth recently visited Peru to speak with some EmprendeAhora graduates. Read about his trip here.

Leadership in Lambayeque

Karla Diaz is interviewed about the EmprendeAhora program.

This article is part of a series of interviews with participants of Instituto Invertir’s EmprendeAhora entrepreneurship and leadership training program in Peru.

Continuing my grand tour of Peru to meet EmprendeAhora alumni, I headed to the desert-like coastal city of Chiclayo, capital of Lambayeque region and fourth most populous city in the country. Forty students from the Universidad Nacional Pedro Ruiz Gallo, Universidad Católica Santo Toribio de Mogrovejo, and Universidad Señor de Sipan in Lambayeque have participated in the program since 2008. In honor of International Women’s Day, it seems appropriate to highlight how two alumni, Karla Díaz (2009) and Estrella Carrillo (2010), successfully incorporated lessons from EmprendeAhora into their lives.

For Karla Diaz, the leadership component of EmprendeAhora was just as important, if not more so, than the courses on entrepreneurship. As part of the program students are taught communication and teambuilding skills, how to create their own vision and mission, and about the importance of social responsibility. Additionally, students learn about volunteering through a volunteer workshop and participation in a social entrepreneurship fair where they meet with representatives from youth volunteer associations. Karla had always thought of herself as a leader and when she was growing up she wanted to create an organization that provided some sort of benefit to the public good. She just never had a concrete plan.

Motivated by what they learned and experienced during EmprendeAhora 2009, Karla and several of her fellow alumni decided to create a branch of Voluntades, a youth volunteer organization, in Chiclayo. In early 2010 they kicked off their first program organizing fun activities while sharing positive values with youth ages 8-13 years old at the Aldea Virgen de la Paz, a village for orphans and troubled youth whose families cannot support them.

After two years, what began with six volunteers (almost all of them EmprendeAhora alumni) has multiplied into a group of around 30 volunteers, proving that these alumni have implemented their leadership skills and inspired other young people to volunteer. I was incredibly fortunate to visit the Aldea one Sunday afternoon to attend the weekly Voluntades activity with the young people living there. The volunteers led the children in singing, dancing, games, and creative thinking activities.

When I spoke with the director of the Aldea, he told me that they often receive volunteer groups interested in working with the children. The cooperation with Voluntades, however, is by far the most formal and consistent relationship, with activities every Sunday for the past two years. He said, “unconsciously the children are registering what they see, hear, and learn during the games. During the week they have a lot of homework and classes and it is good for them to have a fun weekend activity.”

As anyone who has ever spoken with an 8-13 year old can imagine, when I asked some of the children what they thought of Voluntades, the responses I got amounted to, “sometimes we like it, sometimes we don’t.” While there were some activities in which it was more difficult to engage the children, it was quite clear that the children looked up to the volunteers and relationships had been formed.

Karla has served on the board of Voluntades since its creation, in addition to managing various areas like human resources, project coordination, and communications. Although Karla does not have her own business, it does not mean that EmprendeAhora did not awaken her entrepreneurial spirit. Actually, she now sees everything as a business. This has helped her to more quickly develop and execute concrete plans regarding volunteer initiatives, in the workplace, and in her personal life.

Speaking of the workplace, Karla is the host of two television shows based in Chiclayo. Therefore she has plenty of experience speaking in front of an audience – both on camera and in person. In January her audience was an auditorium full of 120 university students waiting to hear her discuss the experience of Voluntades in Chiclayo. Karla was one of the program alums at the University of Lima for EmprendeAhora 2012 as a winner of the “successful alumni contest.” The contest brings several alums to each educational session in order to provide successful examples of entrepreneurial and leadership initiatives and motivate each new class.

While in Chiclayo, I also had the chance to meet with Estrella Carillo.

Unlike many of the other alumni with whom I met, Estrella never imagined herself as an entrepreneur prior to EmprendeAhora. She studied law and was on the path to becoming an attorney. Nonetheless, when she received an email from her university about the program she decided to apply for the opportunity to meet people from other parts of the country.

What captivated her attention during EmprendeAhora 2010, however, were the courses on business planning. Going through the process of developing a business plan idea, devising business strategies, and learning about customers and costs was a highlight of the program for Estrella. The program overall taught her that opening a business was possible even if it didn’t necessarily fit the career path she was on.

Always a fan of fashion, Estrella recognized that the demand for fashionable, trendy women’s clothing in Chiclayo was far greater than the supply. Starting with a small investment from her personal savings, she began taking monthly trips to Lima to purchase clothing from stores that were not available in Chiclayo and reselling to her friends. Rather than just buying and selling any type of clothes, Estrella customizes the items she purchases based on her client’s style preferences and needs. In a sense, Estrella acts as a personal shopper. Currently she serves around 15 clients – friends or friends of friends who heard about the shopping service through word of mouth.

EmprendeAhora not only motivated Estrella to start a business, but also reignited a desire to be involved in more social causes, including the environment and community development, and doing things for others. She now volunteers at a non-profit organization dealing with domestic violence and abuse towards women. Estrella has continued to pursue her legal degree because she sees her legal background as a tool to better serve these social causes in the future. In fact, she is one of approximately 130 young legal professionals worldwide selected for a nine week legal fellowship in the United States this summer.

Because Estrella has continued with her education in the legal field, the business has remained a part-time, informal endeavor for the time being. However, she sees the business as her true passion and hopes that in a few years time she can expand it into something more formal by opening a shop providing personalized styling services.

Although I have highlighted two women in this article, EmprendeAhora provides an opportunity for students of any gender to become active citizens and agents of change in their communities. Over the years Instituto Invertir has tried to maintain a gender balance among the participants, but there is no set quota. Of the 2012 participants, 65% are female. On International Women’s Day it is important to share the EmprendeAhora model as it is a good example of a program that benefits women without specifically targeting them.