The Key to Growth & Progress in Latin America: Young Entrepreneurs

Young Americas Business Trust

Back in the 90’s, a vast majority of parents and guardians in Latin America would look down on their children if they decided to opt to become an entrepreneur instead of pursuing a career or enrolling in a University. They would think that their children had a lack of motivation for studying or they were simply not smart enough or too lazy to complete a degree.

However, we have seen how this mindset has shifted during the past decade. On the one hand, governments in the Americas, such as Colombia, are enforcing laws that support entrepreneurs. On the other hand, Mexico, Chile, and Venezuela have governmental programs that motivate the youth to become entrepreneurs through local competitions or offer microcredit to entrepreneurs. Now, young people working in their dream companies are choosing to step down and run their own businesses. Although, there is no specific case study that points out this reality, it is easy to acknowledge this new reality by knowing the founders background of start-ups in the Americas. They are not only intelligent and sassy but also driven by their passion to make a positive impact in their communities through the use of technology.

Although the general perception is that commodities drive the Latin America market, Latin-Americans have demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit. According to World Bank study, from 2013, more than half of the workforce was employed by small business with five or fewer employees.

This youth-driven initiative is a great step towards a more innovative and sustainable economy in the region. In this context, the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) has worked over the past 15 years to support young entrepreneurs to help them transform their ideas and business projects into sustainable business. Through its flagship program, the Talent and Innovation Competition (TIC Americas), YABT has supported over 25,000 Young entrepreneurs from more than 50 countries. After 9 editions, YABT has improved access and given support to a wide range of young entrepreneurs who utilize technology to push forward their businesses in their home countries.

Here are some examples of former participants in the TIC Americas who have strived to succeed in turning their business project into sustainable and successful businesses:

2011

  • Aventones developed a private platform for carpools in Mexico and it is now operating in Argentina, Colombia, and Peru.

2012

  • Winners of TIC Colombia 2012 provide comprehensive internship opportunities in any sector and recruit students worldwide through their online platform, the Intern Group.
  • Inventive Power, finalist of TIC Americas 2012, is the only company in Mexico that offers an up-to-date solar panel and power tracker technologies.

2013

  • Moreover, PptVivo!, winners of TIC Americas 2013, created an innovative application to pro-actively engage any audience during a given presentation.
  • Hivesource from Trinidad and Tobago, developed an online outsourcing marketplace that intends to provide freelance workers with the ability to bid for projects.

2014

  • Oga Katuoyry, a Paraguayan team, developed an app for tablets to control all electric devices of your home and/or workplace.
  • YouVo, the winner team for Social Innovation, created the first online tool to diminish and prevent bullying behaviors in Chile.
  • Waposat, one of the finalist teams for this year’s Eco-Challenge, is taking its protype monitors water pollution through a nanosatellite constellation to the next level

The list of young entrepreneurs in the Americas with innovative ideas to solve their communities’ needs and problems is never ending. YABT’s experience in working closely for and with young entrepreneurs over the past years has shown us that the main issues they encounter are strategic contacts and appropriate funding to upgrade their technological tools to further develop their prototypes.

We have seen how youth in the Americas are apt to take risks and motivated to run their own business. For this reason, we are optimistic about the future and further economic growth in the region.