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Denver Fall with Latin American and Caribbean Entrepreneurs

Denver Fall with Latin American and Caribbean Entrepreneurs 

The first glimpse as our YLAI (Young Leaders of the Americas) vistors ventured out of Denver’s international airport was, most likely, speeding along Peña Boulevard, the first homage to the importance of the Hispanic, South American and Caribbean community in the Mile High City. 

The avenue is named after Frederico Peña, Denver’s Mayor from 1983 - 1991 and the first of Hispanic origin to hold this position. Though the influence from the Americas spans much further, as far back as when Colorado remained part of Mexico, until 1848. 

Prior to 1848, Spanish explorer Bernardo de Miera e Pacheco scripted the first detailed map of Colorado. In fact, El Laberinto de Meira (Meira’s labyrinth), located above the Dolores river, was named after his earnest success in navigating this craggy canyon. 

Between 22nd September and 20th November 2018, 13 entrepreneurs were invited to participate in the Young Leaders of the Americas a program developed and funded by the U.S. State Department. The YLAI program “empowers entrepreneurs to strengthen their capacity to advance their entrepreneurial ventures and effectively contribute to economic and social development in their communities.”

 

Wayfinder Co-op, one of the 14 professional fellowship placements for the YLAI program.

Latin American and Caribbean Influence in the World

 

Turning our heads to our other debts to Latin America and the Caribbean, it was inventors from this region who gave us the seismic measurement of “Arias Intensity” (Arturo Arias, Chile), the color TV (Guillermo Gonzalez Camarena, Mexico), and even those pesky little captcha codes (Luis Von Ahn, Guatemala) - the ones you have to decipher to get access to anything digital. 

Not forgetting that Latin America was the origin of potatoes, chili peppers, avocados and tomatoes. And obviously, this only scratches the surface of the impact the bottom half of the Americas has had in our modern-day planet. 

Returning to Denver, with a current demographic of approximately 30% being Hispanic/ Latino, there is no doubt that both hispanos (original Spanish settlers) and newer generations of immigrants are both propelling the economy of our city and presenting a huge influx of youths, who will steer our city’s future.

The group on a cultural excursion to Rocky Mountain National Park. 

Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative 2018

Therefore, when the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) delegation landed in WorldDenver this September there was much anticipation about how beneficial the partnerships could be. The group of 13 were selected by the U.S Department of State as entrepreneurs from the Caribbean and Latin America. 

The YLAI Fellows' businesses range from re-using trash in order to halt a housing shortage in Venezuela, to incorporating the traditional indigenous clothing in Bolivia into the booming contemporary fashion industry.  

The beauty of the set up is that each budding enterprise owner was partnered with a similar organization (or two) right here in Denver for a 3 week placement. 

For instance, we counted on the collaboration of Tack Mobile, a local tech company to host a young professional whose business provides cleaning services for low to middle income families in Brazil, via an online portal. It is in fact the companies that spur World Denver’s professional exchanges’ success. We have the full list of collaborating companies at the end of the article.

Don’t take it from us though, we caught up with 3 of the participants to hear about their impressions of Denver, their professional experience and plans for their business’ future. 

 

The group posses for a picture at their farewell reception along with other WorldDenver staff members, Naomi Schnee and Gergana Kostadinova. 

Part of the group after a staff meeting with TechStars in Boulder.

 

 

 


 

Luiz Gilberto Camargo (CEO and founder of DonaMaid in Brazil)

 

 

1: Where was your professional fellowship placement in Denver?

I was placed in Denver at Tack Mobile - a software house that design and build software for mobile and connected devices, in the RiNo area.

 

2: What best practices or advice have you learnt from Tack Mobile your host company?

I learned about software development, people management, task tracking processes, how to use softwares and tools to create new products faster and better.

 

3: How is business different in Brazil?

In Brazil we work more (but it doesn't mean we work better). So we take more time to create new things. Here I learned how to be focused and productive.

 

4: What surprised you the most about the USA and Denver?

I was surprised because I saw companies and startups in the US face similar problems we face in Brazil. It's difficult to gain traction, it's difficult to advertise, it's difficult to recruit new outstanding employees and so on. So we can exchange solutions and learn from each other about those issues.

 

5: What did you see in Denver that will help you with your future plans? 

I saw the Denver Startup Week Events and how the tech community is engaged to create a more entrepreneurial environment in the city - I'll use that to replicate these actions in my community in Brazil.

 


 

Nicole Flores (CEO and Founder of Ananay in Bolivia)

 

 

Ananay is a Bolivian fair-trade fashion company. They create modern clothes and accessories using traditional artisan methods and working in direct partnership with indigenous communities. 

 

1: Where was your professional fellowship placement in Denver?

My placement was at Threads Worldwide, a company that  creates life-changing work with women around the world through the fair trade of artisan jewelry.

 

2: What best practices or advice have you learnt from your host company?

Technology applied to the selling process, inventory and shipping. Also, marketing strategies that they use to motivate the purchase of products with social impact.

 

3: How is business different in Bolivia?

In Bolivia we use a lot of offline sell techniques because e-commerce still has a long way to reach its full potential. In addition, our niche of a local market is small and we have to focus on international markets.

 

4: What surprised you the most about the USA and Denver?

The amazing support that entrepreneurs have with co-work spaces, free training in different events, mentoring and funding access.

And that in Denver you love dogs! And we could have their adorable company even at work. I loved it!

 

5: What did you see in Denver that will help you with your future plans?

I had the chance to understand the US market behavior in my industry, their challenges and needs. All that information will help me to improve my entrepreneurship for sure! Now Ananay has a clear path to increase partners abroad in order to empower more Bolivian artisans.

 


 

 Titi Chavarria (Founder and Manager of Bonding Digital Marketing in Guatemala)

 Bonding Digital Marketing helps other companies grow their businesses by creating custom plans, goals, and digital media strategies.


 

 

1: Where was your professional placement in Denver? 

Heinrich Marketing, Hispanidad 

 

2: What best practices or advice have you learnt from your host company? 

I learned new things about how to take the next step to grow my business, about partners the pros and cons of having one, about new investment,  about the way they do marketing plans in Denver, about the creative pitch for campaigns and about digital marketing in the U.S.

 

3: How is business different in Guatemala? 

The size of the company of my host is bigger and has 40 years of experience. The type of services they give are more broad than the ones I have.  The type of clients and target market they go to is totally different.

 

4: What surprised you the most about the USA and Denver? 

The people in Denver are amazing, I got to build really nice relationships and I was shocked to see how many people are always trying to give you a hand, get you a contact, etc. 

 

5: What did you see in Denver that will help you with your future plans? 

I have a more clear picture of where I want my company to move now, what type of services I want and what is my real target market. 


Raúl Martín   (Founder and President of Workride in Costa Rica) 

Workride, a company that coordinates carpooling. Dedicated to reducing vehicle traffic and greenhouse gas emissions, Workride developed a mobile app that allows users to coordinate carpooling.

 

 

1: Where was your professional fellowship placement in Denver?

My placement was at Prime Health , a company a growing business ecosystem of collaborators working to build the nation’s leading digital health cluster.

 

2: What best practices or advice have you learnt from your host company?

I was exposed to completely new industry, health tech.

 

3: How is business different in Costa Rica?

There is a large single provider in my country, while in the US the market is descentralized. There's also this whole concept of giving back, that we don't see here so often.

 

4: What surprised you the most about the USA and Denver?

Denver is a very interesting city, the weather is crazy. People are very friendly and unlike what I have seen in other cities.

 

5: What did you see in Denver that will help you with your future plans?

The way people support newcomers and the market ideas around healthcare. 

The group pictured with Program Manager Gergana Kostadinova (back center) and Tom Dattilo, Program Assistant Intern (center). 

 

Partner Companies in Denver and Colorado

The following 14 companies served as Professional Fellowship Placements for the 13 YLAI Fellows that were in Denver. 

Wayfinder Co-op - Wayfinder is a co-working space, hosting space and a colloaboration where members become shareholders for a truly collaborative atmosphere. 

Tack Mobile - Broad experience and refined focus in mobile and connected devices.

Threads Worldwide - Threads invites women in the US to run their own social impact business showcasing fair trade jewelry.

Prime Health - Prime Health is a growing business ecosystem of collaborators working to build the nation’s leading digital health cluster.

Bubba’s Fine Foods - Bubba's Fine Foods originated in 2014 by Jared Menzel, Head Chef, and his brother-in-law, Jeff Schmidgall, Head Peddler.   Every bag of our gourmet grain-free snacks is artisan hand-crafted in small batches in the front range of the Colorado Rockies.

Cultura Craft Chocolate - Establish in the fall of 2016, Cultura Craft Chocolate is a Latin American inspired bean-to-bar chocolate making company with a mission to create truly amazing chocolate that has greater transparency, sustainability, and accessibility.

Havenly, Inc. - Havenly is the best way to design your home. We work within any budget, big or small. You can start from scratch or work with a designer using your existing furniture pieces.

Whittier Café - There's no place quite like Whittier Cafe, whose eclectic calendar features such community events as weekly Ethiopian coffee ceremonies.

Hispanidad, A Division of Heinrich - At Hispanidad, we offer something unique – an experienced, integrated team of marketing professionals dedicated to putting the right accent on your marketing so it generates a positive, and profitable, response.

Operation HOPE - Operation HOPE is a for-purpose organization working to disrupt poverty and empower inclusion for low and moderate-income youth and adults.

303 Software - Founded in Denver, Colorado 303 Software is a custom web adn mobile application development firm that that builds digital projects for businesses, governments and startups. 

U-Fulfilled - Toti works with individuals and teams who may be underperforming, dealing with disengagement or communication challenges, or who are looking to re-connect with their purpose and motivation. 

U.S. Green Building Council - The U.S. Green Building Council is committed to a sustainable, prosperous future through LEED, the leading program for green buildings and communities worldwide.

Kenzi’s Causes - To support underprivileged children and their families in Colorado by providing toys, food, and more during the holidays, school supplies and clothing during the school year, and assisting families through community outreach, financial planning and professional support.

 

 

 

Edgar, YLAI Fellow from Venezuela, poses with his Fellowship Host, Pati Mason of the U.S. Green Building Council. 

Paul Reyes with one of his local hosts

 

YLAI Companies in Latin America and the Carribean

 

Daniel Cabrera (Brazil) is the Co-Founder and President of Vivalá and Instituto Vivalá.
Vivalá is an ecotourism and voluntourism operator in 7 states of Brazil. The voluntourism destinations offer a free proffesional training for small local entrepreneurs and also support these communities with our social investment. 

Luiz Gilberto Camargo (Brazil) is the Co-Founder and CEO of Donamaid, an on-demand
maid service for low- and middle-income people. The goal of Donamaid is to provide
affordable maid services for those who do not have time to clean their home and cannot
afford a monthly maid.

Nicole Flores (Bolivia) is the Founder of Ananay, a clothing accessory brand that combines
ancestral knowledge with modern design to empower Bolivian artisans. Ananay helps
socially-disadvantaged clothing designers reach wider fair trade markets while allowing
them to share their story with consumers.

Raúl Martín (Costa Rica) is the Founder and President of Workride, a company that
coordinates carpooling. Dedicated to reducing vehicle traffic and greenhouse gas
emissions, Workride developed a mobile app that allows users to coordinate carpooling.

Paul Reyes (Ecuador) is the Founder of Blissec Food Industry Ltd. Co., an Ecuadorian
company that values nutrition and health and strives to solve nutritional problems by
providing healthy snacks.

Maritza Umaña (El Salvador) is the Co-Founder and Project Manager of AM Espacios, an
architecture and construction studio of young female professionals based in El Salvador.

Stephanie Morales (Guatemala) is the Co-Founder and COO of Guatemala bookstore and
coffee shop, Watson Books & Coffee. Dedicated to creating social change, Watson Books &
Coffee uses only fair trade coffee and sells books that bring awareness to social injustices.

 

Titi Chavarria (Guatemala) is the Founder and General Manager of the Guatemalan
company Bonding Digital Marketing. Bonding Digital Marketing helps other companies
grow their businesses by creating custom plans, goals, and digital media strategies.

 

Kenishia Mais (Jamaica) is the Founder of ThrivingDollars, a financial education platform
that empowers young adults to make smarter decisions and create their ideal financial
lives.

 

José Pino (Paraguay) is the CEO and Co-Founder of Tavatech SA, a software company that
works with other entities to execute solutions through technology and innovation.

 

Joseph Simeon Deonaraine (Suriname) is the Founder and CEO of Your Wealthy Journey,
an online business focused on inspiring young people in Suriname to set business goals.

Edgar Velasquez Montero (Venezuela) is the Founder and President of EcoTapüy, a
business that builds houses and facilities made of recycled polymers.

Paola Pérez (Venezuela) is the Founder and CEO of Tapas y Botellas por Vidas Merida (Lids
and Bottles for Lives Merida), a non-profit organization that helps children with cancer
through the recycling of plastic lids and bottles.

 

 

 

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