Tag Archives: EmprendeAhora

A Dream Come to Life

Selva Constructor, Karolo’s latest business venture, is an architecture and construction firm based in Tarapoto, Peru.

Selva Constructor, Karolo’s latest business venture, is an architecture and construction firm based in Tarapoto, Peru.

CIPE began working with Peruvian NGO, Instituto Invertir, in 2008, with the belief that developing business and leadership skills in young Peruvians from the country’s diverse regions would help build a culture of entrepreneurship and civic participation – creating alternatives to the limited social and economic opportunities. This, in response to the general populations’ frustration with the shortcomings of the country’s democratic system and an increasingly anti-democratic rhetoric from leaders in certain areas of Peru. The initial vision of what program success would look like has been far exceeded thanks to the initiative of young Peruvians like Karolo Pérez Alvarado.

Long-time CIPE Development Blog readers may recall being introduced to Karolo back in January 2010. As one of the inaugural fellows in the first ever EmprendeAhora (EA) program in 2008, Karolo and his teammates were awarded first prize in the business plan contest for their idea to inject adventure into bio tourism in the San Martín region of Peru.

Having struck up a friendship with Karolo during my visit to Tarapoto, San Martín, naturally we made it official on Facebook. In the years since I have maintained contact from afar and watched as Karolo grew from a young man with a fun business idea into a successful entrepreneur serving as a driving force behind his community’s development, and an inspiration for young entrepreneurs around the country.

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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

Emprendedores Ecua

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


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.