Reverse Exchange Programs

WorldDenver is a local city hub host for Professional Fellows Programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. These programs pair emerging leaders from around the world with local companies, nonprofits, government agencies, and university offices for a 3-4 week professional exchange program that allows the Fellows to observe best practices in their field in the United States, while also sharing ideas from their respective country with their local Fellowship Host. These programs establish professional and personal connections between the Fellows and their counterparts in the Denver-metro area.  WorldDenver currently implements three of these Professional Fellows Programs: Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI)Russian Business Leaders (RBL), and Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI).

To complement the U.S.-based component of each of these programs, U.S. Fellowship Hosts are eligible to apply for a funded outbound exchange which allows them to travel to their Fellow's country to implement a project or initiative that is beneficial to the local community.

So far in 2018, two local leaders have traveled to South America and two more will have the opportunity to travel abroad this autumn.

Seeds of Sisterhood

Ximena González and Jeni Cuene

Jeni Cuene (Operations Lead at Threads Worldwide and Founder of Seeds of Sisterhood), visited 2017 YLAI Fellow Ximena Gonzalez (Co-Founder and CEO of Nomades - Yachay L.A.B S.A.C) in Peru in June. The two worked together to implement workshops focused on economic empowerment and development for the Yine Community in Pucallpa, an artisan community in the heart of Peru's rainforest. Their goal is to prepare the Yine to advance their artisan products for international markets. 

"Seeds of Sisterhood is a Program (and now a business) that we designed for our Reverse Exchange Program. We seek to empower a woman artisan community in Peru, named Yine. They were around 15 artisans, 13 of them women, really skilled in creating beautiful jewelry pieces with beads and seeds and textiles using waist looms.

We designed a 6 days program including design methodology workshop by Nomades with the outcome of two new lines of products: jewelry and home décor, and a operations and international logistics workshop by Seeds of Sisterhood with the outcome of their first export contract of 100 pieces for Threads Worldwide based in Denver, Colorado. 

We organized two closing events. One in Pucallpa, where we invited Yine`s stakeholders which included the regional government, the Center of innovation for artisans in Pucallpa, entrepreneurs and locals. The other one, was in Lima, where we presented our results and the partnership between Nomades and Seeds of Sisterhood. 

The Reverse Exchange have been an incredible experience that has engaged even more the relationship of my company – Nomades - with the US network and market. We have closed a partnership with my host, Jeni Cuene, and her company Seeds of Sisterhood, to keep working together in next projects with Peruvian artisans. As a professional, this experienced has enrich my knowledge about working with artisan communities in early stage of development and taught me about international logistics specifications for the US market. But most importantly, taught me about the importance of building connections and extend our professional network by inviting other entrepreneurs and young leaders." -Ximena González

Find more information about Seeds of Sisterhood here.

Codium Bootcamp

Gabriela Gaona and Matt Jaffe

Matt Jaffe (CEO & Founder of 303 Software) has hosted YLAI Fellows from Brazil, Mexico, and Paraguay. Earlier this year, he traveled to Paraguay to collaborate with 2017 YLAI Fellow Gabriela Gaona (COO of Codium). While he was there, Matt mentored the leadership team of Codium and shared best practices in management; met with the Secretary for Information and Communications Technology; and led a 2-day bootcamp for over 30 entrepreneurs.

"By the end of May 2018, we started the Reverse Exchange Program with Matt my host from 303Software. He went to Codium, my software company located in Asuncion - Paraguay. As part of the program, we organized an Entrepreneurs Bootcamp where Matt had the opportunity to share with more than 30 entrepreneurs including different business areas. The objective of our Bootcamp was to teach pragmatic processes and best practices that help entrepreneurs organize and operate their business. We did this in an interactive, hands-on workshop setting over the course of two days. Topics included were:

  • How to honestly evaluate the state of your company and what to do with the results

  • How to ensure you have the right employees in the right positions

  • How and why to run the Level 10 Meeting

  • How to get positive results by using the Getting What You Want exercise

  • How to successfully identify, discuss, and solve business problems

  • How to hold people accountable for their deliverables

The attendees were selected based on the position held in their organizations, the number of employees, revenue and the sector they represented: private, government or civil society.
The event was supported by US Embassy in Paraguay,  SAP (State Alumni Paraguay), the Host company (303Software) and mine (Codium SA).

More than thirty Paraguayan entrepreneurs will implement what we teach in our bootcamp using the tools and methods we showed to run a successful business. These methods were simple, effective, and easy to deploy so the participants will be able to integrate them into a powerful framework that will help them gain traction and realize the main focus for their companies. Once learned these methods and tools may also be easily taught to employees and peers, thus benefiting many more Paraguayans.

Thanks to Ylai Reverse Exchange I had the opportunity to strengthen relationships with my host Matt and create a partnership so we can work together. By the end of the year, we want to work on software projects involving both companies in equal parts and with the best software developers in Asunción working for Denver Clients in the US.

It's amazing how much you can learn in such a short time. The connections that can be made thanks to YLAI program. As an entrepreneur, I encourage everyone to apply and open the doors to unique opportunities in life." -Gabriela Gaona

Read Gabriela's article in Spanish about her Reverse Exchange Program experience here.

Upcoming Reverse Exchange Programs

Bill Morris (CEO of Blue Star Recyclers) is headed to Chile in November to collaborate with 2016 YLAI Fellow Sebastian Herceg Ruiz (Executive Director of Kyklos). He will share best practices about creating jobs for people with disabilities through electronics recycling. 

Tim Martinez (Manager of Global Development for the Denver Office of Economic Development) is headed to Guadalajara in October to develop a bilateral network of innovation and entrepreneurial connectivity between Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, and Denver, Colorado with 2016 YLAI Fellow Efrain Orozco Gonzalez. 


Interested in getting involved with the Professional Fellows Programs?

Contact Gergana Kostadinova, Program Manager, at or 720-330-9289.