Category Archives: Stories

D&E Green Enterprises promotes clean cookstoves in Haiti

“For my fellow social entrepreneurs, never fall in love with your solution. Fall in love with the problem.”

Duquesne Fednard believes that homegrown entrepreneurs need to fall in love with the problems facing Haiti, relying upon themselves rather than foreign aid to push their country into the future. Duquesne was born in a small Haitian town to a mother who had only a 3rd grade education and a father who could neither read nor write. Despite their own limitations, Duquesne’s parents instilled in him the value of taking initiative and the understanding that education would be his ticket to prosperity. Raised in a town that, even now, has no electricity or running water, little Duquesne housed an entrepreneurial fire whose brazen flames endure to this day.

At the age of 9, Duquesne was left alone to proctor his class’ exams. While his teacher desperately tried to woo the attractive teacher next door, the young entrepreneur seized upon this opportunity. Within weeks he had a full-blown business running, making sure students who wanted to cheat had to pay him, or risk the wrath of their lovesick teacher. By the end of the year, Duquesne had made enough money to buy himself a few toys.

At 16, Duquesne opened a print shop, his first formal business on the island, but he craved foreign exposure and experience. And so, he sold his print shop and moved to the United States, spending the next fourteen years on the fast track. He worked in a consulting firm, pursued a graduate degree, became an investment banker on the famed Wall Street, and even worked for Mayor Bloomberg. But his heart remained firmly tethered to Haiti.

He began to conduct market research on the existing organizations operating in Haiti and realized that his country had become overrun by NGOs, many of which had the best intentions  but were only creating greater problems. The deluge of foreign aid not only made Haitians increasingly dependent, but also destroyed many of their jobs. Duquesne knew he had to provide a local solution to a local problem that could be implemented by the local community.

Armed with the knowledge that 95% of Haitians still use charcoal as their primary fuel for cooking, Duquesne identified the energy market as an easy entry-point. He hoped to address both the environmental damage caused by this reliance as well as the social disparity that saw 80% of the population living below the poverty line. The solution became D&E Green Enterprises. Bringing affordable, reliable and clean energy to these impoverished communities, D&E manufactures and sells energy-efficient cook-stoves and integrates its customers into a financing scheme that helps generate savings.

Duquesne excitedly designed his prototype in 2009 and turned all his savings into a new factory with equipment that would manufacture the cook-stoves. But in January of 2010, disaster struck. A 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, taking the lives of 220,000 Haitians and the homes of another 1.5 million. Duquesne’s factory and all the new equipment inside were reduced to a heap of rubble. When Duquesne finally managed to visit the site, he noticed that a 39 year old who had been trained to work at his factory was visiting its remains every day. The factory was supposed to provide him with his first formal job, and despite the fact that this dream of an improved life lay in ruins before him, the man continued to show up at the site, desperately searching for a sense of normalcy.

It was at this moment that Duquesne remembered that his project was bigger than himself. Beyond the destruction of his dream and the loss of all his savings, his business had been a beacon of hope for all those involved. And so, picking himself up by the bootstraps, Duquesne got back to work. Over the next three years, his workers manufactured the cook-stoves manually, working in flimsy tents as hurricanes came and went. By 2014, the factory was rebuilt and his company was back on track.

Knowing that he needed capital to scale  his business was raising money, Duquesne applied to Agora’s Accelerator in 2017. His initial expectations were far surpassed. He gained access to a wonderful community and support system of fellow social entrepreneurs and was given the tools to get him closer to investment. Over the course of the past four months, a dedicated and perfectly-matched consultant helped him stay focused, maintain the structure of his business, and clearly define his priorities and responsibilities.

D&E today has sold over 125,000 cookstoves, directly impacting 600,000 lives. It has created over 60 full-time jobs and empowered over 100 local distributors. Duquesne hopes that, five years from now, there will be millions of low-income individuals on his savings-by-consumption platform, and D&E will be operating in three countries.

In the many ups and downs of his entrepreneurial journey, Duquesne has learned that, as a social entrepreneur, one must fall in love with the problem and not the solution. Believing himself incredibly blessed to be able to help others, Duquesne runs his company with humility, openness, and resilience, changing the world, one cook-stove at a time.  

Learn more about D&E Green Enterprises at http://www.dandegreen.com/.

 

Estación Vital fights chronic diseases in Nicaragua

“Being an entrepreneur is almost a spiritual experience; you have to know clearly what you want so your inner demons will not counter you at any stage of your project.”

Continue reading Estación Vital fights chronic diseases in Nicaragua

Develop Link makes Guatemalan healthcare more efficient

“Being able to leverage Agora’s well-known name within this community allowed us to successfully acquire funding.”

Catherine Flatley believes in unlocking the potential of existing healthcare systems to provide more efficient care for Latin Americans. She was first introduced to the world of healthcare as an intern for PricewaterhouseCoopers. Immersed in the industry, she became increasingly fascinated by the communications problems that existed in the developing world and the opportunities to fix them. But she wanted to know more about the problem.

Catherine spoke to over 300 doctors who had participated in mission trips around the world, and realized that many encountered the same difficulties arising from their inability to coordinate patient care. As a healthcare consultant, she had worked with several pharmaceutical firms who were interested in entering emerging markets but struggled with the lack of data necessary to expand.

She was blown away by the extent of the problem and motivated to solve it. A decisive resignation and move to Guatemala later, Develop Link was born.

As a referral platform for doctors in Latin America, Develop Link helps healthcare providers search for specialists and labs, share information, and consult each other. The data collected through the platform is subsequently organized and sold to pharmaceutical companies and insurance providers hoping to expand within the Latin American region. Catherine emphasizes that Develop Link is not trying to reinvent the wheel. It simply serves as the link bringing together all the existing institutions to facilitate more efficient care.

Wanting to improve her company’s potential for growth and scaling, Catherine participated in several Accelerators, including Points of Light CivicX, Impact Engine, and the Fellow Irish Social Hub. However, she lacked both direct access to the Latin American network and consulting that would instruct her specifically on the Latin American market. So she applied to Agora’s Accelerator.

Through the four-month program, Catherine refined her launch strategy, strengthened the value proposition she would deliver to pharmaceutical firm clients, and connected with invaluable investor networks. The SOCAP experience, facilitated by Agora, introduced her to her very first client in Mexico.

Since the Accelerator, Develop Link has steadily progressed, entering Mexico by virtue of demand and planning to enter Costa Rica. Catherine has recently closed two contracts with investors and is on her way to closing her third, motivated every day by the number of doctors, NGOs, government organizations, and private companies all trying to provide better healthcare in Latin America with a clear need to better communicate.

She believes that the ability to be flexible and adjust existing plans to new circumstances has been key to expanding her company, and hopes to continue working towards halting the Latin American ‘Brain Drain,’ in which talented and promising individuals leave their native country to pursue a professional career elsewhere. Her company’s potential for expansion and promise for physicians and patients everywhere keep talented employees like Shaili Zappa, her director for Guatemala, working locally.  Develop Link, run on teamwork and collaboration, is thus changing the world, one patient at a time.

Learn more about Develop Link at http://www.developlink.org.

Cruz Campo empowers rural women in Peru

“If you have a dream, pursue it. Nothing in this world is impossible. I made my company from zero, with no knowledge of business management to guide me, but I learned along the way.”

Rosa Cruz believes in sharing the benefits of the native Peruvian tubers, yacon and aguaymanto, with the rest of the world. Born into a family of farmers, Rosa Cruz always had a special place in her heart for the rural community. And though she was familiar with the Peruvian yacon from a young age, any thoughts of it remained relegated to her rural childhood as she progressed through university. Upon graduating with a degree in chemical engineering, however, her attention was suddenly drawn back to this tuber, so under-researched and under-cultivated, yet brimming with invaluable health benefits. Hoping to bring its benefits to the diabetic community and beyond, Rosa effectively became one of the first individuals to study the yacon.

Over the course of the following decade, Rosa collected seeds, conducted research, expanded her study to include the aguaymanto tuber, organized a farmers’ association, and, eventually, began large-scale organic cultivation. From this, Cruz Campo was born.

Dedicated to bettering the environment through promoting biodiversity, organic cultivation, and environmental conservation, Cruz Campo brings healthy alternative products to its customers, a higher quality of life to its employees, and exposure to a larger market for its farmers.

Hoping to both expand her company and expose herself to the world of international entrepreneurship, Rosa applied to the Accelerator and was accepted. She left her native soil for the first time to go to the opening retreat in Nicaragua, where she found inspiring speakers and a group of burgeoning female entrepreneurs. Over the course of the next four months, Agora’s consulting allowed her to drastically improve productivity and management. But, above all, the Agora Accelerator connected her with Kiva, a microfinancing platform that enables individuals to give and receive loans, through which she was able to receive a $35,000 loan in a week. This loan has allowed her to invest in more raw materials and purchase a new piece of land, on which she hopes to build a secondary processing plant.

Strategically placed to give the greatest number of rural women easy access to a steady job, avoid raw materials losses incurred during transportation, and facilitate direct contact with producers, this plant will allow Rosa to continue creating the incredible impact she makes with Cruz Campo.

Rosa’s company has empowered many rural women. Cruz Campo has given life to a supportive community of single mothers who have fallen victim to domestic violence while also providing them a consistent income and the opportunity to educate their children.

She hopes to continue addressing the Sustainable Development Goal of ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’ and to acquire the funding necessary to develop another industrial plant closer to other areas of cultivation, exporting beyond the confines of Peru’s borders to the greater world. Fueled by honesty, fairness, and perseverance, Cruz Campo is changing the world, one yacon plant at a time.

Learn more about Cruz Campo at http://www.cruzcampoperu.com.

allGreenup reduces Latin America’s carbon footprint

“Agora is honest, Agora understands and is truthful about the specific problems facing social entrepreneurs in Latin America.”

Andres Luongo believes in a future where both companies and individuals will have a more sustainable relationship with the environment. With a background in social entrepreneurship and civil engineering, Andres had spent years experimenting with different methods of environmental engagement. In 2012, Andres and his partner Sebastian began seriously discussing the creation of a business with an environmental impact. They lamented the fact that, despite claims of recycling, few people actually live environmentally-conscious lifestyles. Thus arose the idea of incentives, that if people were given some kind of benefit, green lifestyles would seem much more appealing. And so was born allGreenup.

allGreenup is an application that both educates and rewards its users, incentivizing citizens and employees throughout Latin America to track and reduce their carbon footprint. Offering discounts, products, and services as prizes for choosing a greener lifestyle, it increases sustainable action among individuals and companies.

Andres and Sebastian recognized that companies today are encouraged by governments and their customers to be sustainable, but don’t have the means nor the motivation. allGreenup thus provides the missing tools and incentive necessary for companies to integrate sustainability into their business models and the platform necessary to both expand and measure impact.

However, Andres struggled to acquire investment and recognition. Hoping to expand his contacts and improve his business model, he applied to Agora’s flagship Accelerator program in 2016. The week-long retreat and months of consulting that followed brought invaluable benefits: Andres and his team learned how to better deliver their value proposition and pitch to potential investors and partners, gained lasting community connections with other entrepreneurs, and closed contracts with Samsung and Bupa.

allGreenup today is perfectly positioned in Chile to continue expanding its user base. For now, Andres is focused on creating greater impact and generating revenue in his home country. In the next five years, however, he hopes that allGreenup will grow within the region, spreading to Peru, Colombia, and Mexico, and eventually developing into a globally recognized platform with over a million users.

His success is evident in the testimonies of customers. Chile’s second largest healthcare company, Bupa, praises the clear improvements in their consumer relations and the ability to accurately assess their impact, while individual users applaud the creation of a community in which they can find and be encouraged by like-minded individuals.

With eyes on the future, Andres envisions a world where social impact is integrated into every business model. He notes that the focus of companies today is no longer limited to just profit. Having a social impact has become increasingly important, and a growing number of individuals are looking for ways to help their community and world. The knowledge that he is a part of this movement for good is what pushes Andres each day to pour his heart and soul into his company. Run on the values of excellence, integrity, and teamwork, allGreenup is thus changing the world, one user at a time.

Learn more about allGreenup at www.allgreenup.com.

Colab connects citizens and governments in Brazil

“With Agora, it was great to have a consultant doing things with us, as opposed to just telling us what to do.”

Bruno Aracaty believes in the necessity of civic engagement to reduce the disconnect between governments and their citizens. Despite starting his early career in entrepreneurship, Bruno moved quickly into the investment sector, fascinated by how foreign capital could be invested in Brazilian assets. He heeded the entrepreneurial call again in 2011, leading the digital tsrketing campaigns for political candidates and indulging his personal passion for politics. However, as he worked, he grew increasingly aware of the widespread disenchantment with politicians and the growing distance between government and citizens.

Believing in the power of technology to solve such a serious problem, Bruno wanted to bridge this gap with a mobile platform. Thus was born Colab.

Colab is a civic engagement platform that connects citizens with their local governments, allowing them to report problems and incentivizing them to participate in the solutions. Bruno believes that the lack of effective communication creates a vicious cycle perpetuating government inefficiency and popular discontent, and thus developed an app to facilitate issue reporting. Citizens who notice problems ranging from sewage buildups to broken sidewalks can use Colab to communicate the issue to the municipal office responsible, allowing officials to quickly address the problem.    

Bruno was off to a great start, developing municipal partnerships with cities all over Brazil, but he wanted Colab to be stronger. Exposed to various accelerator programs, he was fully aware of their potential to change a business. He began to look for one that would strengthen Colab’s impact management and expand its Latin American network. He wanted an involved consultant who would not only identify areas in need of improvement but also help him to improve them. This led him to Agora’s Accelerator. Many months later, Bruno emerged from the program with a stronger vision of impact measurement, countless new community connections across Latin America, and an improved growth strategy for his company.

Following his participation in the Accelerator, Bruno has secured a million dollars of investment, closed contracts with three new municipalities in Brazil, and launched a revamped version of his platform. Users praise the efficiency with which government officials notified through Colab have addressed problems like wires left on the sidewalk and dangerous potholes. They also commend its ability to digitally raise participation in a simple municipal budget hearing from 300 individuals to over 10,000.

The enthusiastic responses of citizens and government officials both show that Colab has already grown much bigger than Bruno initially imagined. Making his business profitable as early as possible and surrounding himself with a talented team of individuals have enabled Bruno to expand Colab across 130 cities and dream far beyond Brazil.  He envisions a future where his platform reaches all across Latin America, addressing discontented populations and bridging the gap between governments and citizens regionwide. Run on the values of ethics, creativity, and accountability, Colab is changing the world, one city at a time.

Learn more about Colab at https://www.colab.re.

Cocotech transforms coastal Colombian communities

“Agora teaches you not only the financial components, but also the personal and emotional components necessary for success.”

Germán Mejia believes in the incredible potential of the coconut shell to be the vehicle of prosperity for coastal Colombian communities.

For nearly twenty years, Germán devoted his energy to cultivating his homeland’s most famous export, beautiful flowers.  During these two decades in horticulture, he had the opportunity to explore the hydroponic cultivation of flowers with coconut fiber substrates and realized that the shell of this fruit had an incredible potential for improving the cultivation of vegetables like tomatoes, ornamental plants, vertical orchid gardens, and ‘green’ roofs.

Excited by the many uses and benefits of coconut fibers and substrate, Germán remembered the family trips to the Caribbean coast in his boyhood and the innumerable coconuts he had seen strewn across the department of Córdoba. He had not returned to the region in decades and decided to give it a visit. What he saw opened his eyes to the monumental opportunity awaiting him.

To avoid snakes nesting, the local communities were disposing of the coconut shells by throwing them on the beach or burning them completely, a practice that was severely polluting the air. Germán’s raw material, shockingly abundant, was thus not only being discarded but also contributing to the environmental degradation of the region. Moreover, these communities were living in abject poverty, the worst residing in homes of cracked plastic, with no access to clean water or electricity, and no sanitary bathroom or a functional area for cooking. Seeing the conditions for the first time through adult eyes, Germán was appalled. The man who, as a child, had told his mother at least once a week that he wanted to become a doctor and help people, was moved to action. And thus, Cocotech was born.

Cocotech buys coconut shells from these impoverished coastal communities, recycling them and transforming them into substrates for use in agriculture and horticulture. It thus simultaneously reduces the environmental contamination of the region and brings employment and additional income to families in desperate need of resources.

Since its conception in 2012, Cocotech has consistently progressed, entering the competitive market for coconut fiber substrates, and gaining a share substantial enough to break even. It has developed a buffering agent to treat the coconut shells and added coconut chips to its production line, further expanding its opportunities. In 2016, Cocotech became a finalist for Innpulsa, a Colombian entrepreneurial competition, and won first prize for sustainability with Corporacion Ventures, receiving national recognition for its incredible work.

Ambitious and ready to expand, Germán applied to Agora’s Accelerator program on the recommendation of an important potential client. The Accelerator provided him with invaluable materials, a methodology for growth, months of support from a consultant who was consistently well-prepared and committed to his company’s development, and the opportunity to present himself before investors and credit lenders in the hope of acquiring financing.

Newly equipped, Germán’s company today is poised for rapid growth. Germán hopes to continue expanding the plan of benefits for Cocotech’s employees that has thus far improved his workers’ education, health, living situation, and even their diet. In five years, he wants to acquire a major American client and develop a partnership with weavers who make artisanal products with coconut fibers, further unlocking the infinite possibilities of this little fruit.

Germán has brought hope and opportunity to an area that has remained virtually unchanged for the last 45 years. Within a population trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty and underdevelopment, he is changing lives. He runs his company with the sense of responsibility and empathy that have so guided his life, and he is changing the world, one coconut at a time.

Learn more about Cocotech at cocotech.com.co.

GPSGAY improves the lives of Latin American LGBT communities

“Before Agora, we knew that we were causing impact but had no idea how to track it. The Accelerator taught us how to measure and explain the impact we were having on the LGBTQ community.”

Magdalena Rodríguez believes in the power of social inclusion to change the lives of the LGBTQ community.  With a background in web design, Magdalena launched her career in the tech world, founding a web design and development company in Uruguay with her wife in 2006. Growing increasingly dissatisfied with the lack of change she was making in a tech agency, Magdalena began to search for new ideas of social impact. She wanted to add value to the LGBTQ community she was a part of, and make a difference to the individuals who were still frequently excluded from society.

Upon reviewing the many applications and platforms already available to the LGBTQ community, Magdalena realized that there was something missing. Many were focused solely on finding a sexual partner, and those that did provide valuable information and consulting services to individuals did not take advantage of the community’s potential as a unique market. Thus was born the idea for GPSGAY.

As the largest and most comprehensive platform for the LGBTQ community in Latin America, GPSGAY is simultaneously a safe space where individuals can solicit advice, support, and consulting services, a medium through which companies and organizations can engage with the community, a source for relevant content including upcoming events, news, and health information, and a marketplace for products including healthcare, travel, and entertainment.

Looking for impact investors who would help take GPSGAY to the next level, Magdalena applied to Agora’s Accelerator and was accepted to its 2016 Class. The retreat and months of consulting that followed brought invaluable benefits. Magdalena and her team learned to better measure the impact they were creating, developed a stronger business plan that catered to addressing the health and self-esteem of individuals users, and connected with impact investors in a market less familiar with LGBTQ startups.

Following the Accelerator, Magdalena has secured $300,000 from a Swiss investor, strengthened GPSGAY’s internal system to better organize its sales, and made the decision to set up offices in the U.S. With plans to further expand the networks of support and information and strengthen self-esteem, GPSGAY is poised to continue its rapid expansion.

With GPSGAY, Magdalena hopes for nothing more than to make the world a little bit brighter for the LGBTQ community. She hopes that participation in this platform can make her users happier and more confident, and shares that the grateful messages they receive from the community are her greatest source of motivation and inspiration.

GPSGAY is run on its founders’ honesty, accountability, and respect, and it is changing the world, one user at a time.

Learn more about GPSGAY at gpsgay.com.

 

More Than a Bracelet: Wakami Disrupting the Fashion Industry – A Story of Hope and Prosperity

María Pacheco has always dreamt of a world that was green, with many trees and birds nesting and singing on them; with butterflies and frogs jumping from one twig to another; a world of peace and prosperity for everyone; a world with no poverty, a world in peace.

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But how could she make her dream world become reality, especially in Guatemala, a country hit by war?

She shared her dream world with a friend that came from the land of war. He loved it because he also had trees as part of his dream. However, in his dream he also wanted the trees to heat homes, to shelter the birds and rabbits and to hold water in the soil so springs and river would be alive. They worked together and taught communities how to find harmony with their land through its natural resources.

The people of Sacala now have their own association, Tikonel Taq Che, and their own Company, Sacala, that sells wood and wood products to markets.

Best part of all, by planting and caring for the Earth, María’s new friends were able to sell the wood and other things to make money to feed their families.

María was happy and kept dreaming of a better world:

 

“We dream of a world in which all communities have houses

And all houses have a window

That from all windows a garden may be seen

And that in all gardens there is a ball

That all balls belong to boys and girls who go to school

And that all schools have PTAs of parents that work

That all those who work may reach the markets

And that it is markets that multiply houses with windows

So that the sky may be blue and the sun bright for everyone”

 

That is the dream.  But what is the reality of the world?

  • Globally, 1.2 billion people live in poverty.
  • In Guatemala, 60% live in poverty.

Though these numbers are astounding, you need to tune into the lives of an impoverished family to understand what they truly mean.

In 2002, there was a famine declared in Guatemala, and María was invited to a village.  While walking there, a woman, Doña Santa, invited her into her home.  There was a 6-year old child lying on a mat on the floor. Maria was heartbroken and she told Doña Santa, “If you don’t take this child to the doctor he will die.”

Doña Santa said, “María, I have 5 dollars in my pocket.  With those, I can try to take this child to the hospital and save him or feed the other 7 children for the rest of the month.”

Hardly able to speak María asked her, “What do you really need, how can we help you?”  What Doña Santa said turned everyone around, “María, if you can sell what we produce, the rest we can do.”

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“But how do I find the market? How do I look for investors? How should I start?” wondered María. María’s questions were asked when she was introduced to Agora Partnerships.

“Agora strengthened my abilities to pitch to investors by teaching me how to structure ideas, prioritize business objectives and focus on return,” said María.

With the support of Agora Partnerships, María was able to increase the impact of her company, Wakami, and work towards the dreams she had envisioned.

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Wakami is a system that connect rural communities, especially women, with global markets, generating income and transforming cycles of poverty into cycles of prosperity!

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Wakami consists of two organizations that work hand in hand:

  • An NGO that gives professional training to rural groups of women
  • A social business that designs and exports products for the global market, handmade by those women

When Wakami first started, they sold any product made by the communities, but this was an inefficient system. The challenge was to finding a product line that had a growing market demand worldwide and could use the ancestral techniques of the communities. That is why Wakami chose the handmade fashion accessories market.

These handmade fashion accessories have created jobs and income for 486 producers, 95% of which are women, in a men-dominated Guatemalan society.

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Before being part of the Wakami system, many of the producers would work on coffee fields, with small and unpredictable gains. Through Wakami, their income is four times higher on average, consistent, and empowers the producers to become active members of the society.

So now this is how the system works:

Through the Inclusive-Business Methodology, groups of women with life-changing dreams are transformed into formal businesses through training by Wakami’s NGO. Then, the social business becomes their first client and products are exported across  the world. Once sales happen and the women have income, Wakami implements the Smart-Investment Methodology, where, with their income, their first dreams come true: feeding and educating their children.

With more sales the social business can grow and become the market the force that drives social change.

The income generated with Wakami is transforming the lives of entire families in Guatemala, investing in children’s nutrition, education, and in products that make houses safer.

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After eleven years of business these are Wakami’s results:

  • Creation of a transferable system that can be transmitted to other countries with communities facing similar challenges;
  • Exporting products to over 20 countries with sales for over 1 million dollars for the last 3 years;
  • Inspiring the new Corporate Social Responsibility model for three, billion-dollar Guatemalan companies;
  • Incubating 16 rural businesses benefitting over 2,500 people;
  • Contributing to 140% higher school attendance than the Guatemalan national average for Wakami children; and,
  • Providing for a 57% improvement of nutritional status for Wakami children.

Most of all, Wakami is DISRUPTING cycles of poverty and creating cycles of prosperity.

“Agora helped me share my dream and built a business than allow more dreams come true,” said María Pacheco

Wakami thanks Agora Partnerships for helping them become a fashion-industry DISRUPTOR!

 

ENTREPRENEUR SPOTLIGHT: Jennifer Menegazzo of Korβáta

Korβáta is one of the 25 companies in the 2016 Agora Accelerator. The Agora Accelerator is divided into cohorts of entrepreneurs aligned around an impact theme or industry. Korβáta is part of our 2016 Ethical Fashion cohort, each cohort acts as its own ecosystem of experts, investors, industry professionals, and media all coordinated to accelerate the very best entrepreneurial solutions to social and environmental problems in Latin America.

Based in Guatemala, Korβáta is committed to promote traditional Mayan culture and community empowerment through their creation of unique handmade fashion accessories for men.

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Why did you start your company?

Korβáta started in September 2012. Together with my partner, we were seeking to create something unique, something with Guatemalan value and the idea of creating a tie using traditional textiles came out. We start working with various samples, involving ourselves in the whole creation process, the meaning of the patterns and the different techniques used by communities, we had to learn it all, from how to made a tie knot till the creation of a brand.

As people always ask me this question: how did you start this company? I always answer: Korβáta found me. It was not something I was looking for and now is everything I have ever dream of. I have put my time, knowledge, experience, love, craziness, tears and more to this incredible project that is just starting to rise…Wait for it #korbata.

What problem is your company trying to solve?

Poverty is extremely entrenched in Guatemalan society, around 59% of the population live in poverty and the majority are indigenous living in rural communities. Our artisans in rural communities lack the income generating opportunities to improve their quality of life and being native indigenous they have been long suffering from discrimination and rejection of their culture. This must stop! Additional, global consumers are unaware of the value chain of their clothes and the consequences of unfair job conditions and those who are aware do not have sufficient high-quality options to support ethical fashion.

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What is your vision for the future?

At first my vision was to create a Guatemalan brand to be recognized by fashion men all over the world. After the years I have learned how Korβáta has been making an impact in people’s life; from the artisans in different communities that create the textiles, to the workshop artisans that confection the products, to the Korβáta team and to the ethical fashion industry. I love to see men that proudly wear their Korβáta and know the story behind it.
After understanding the true impact we defined our vision and goal to share our Guatemalan passion, culture and traditions to all over the world and become a country product that supports rural community empowerment in Guatemala.

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Why did you choose the Agora Accelerator?

To be honest I did not really know what a business accelerator was, but now in a few words: best experience ever! I will describe it as “entrepreneur power”. I think at the end Agora choose me because they saw the potential in me and my business. Because they believed in me I choose them. A week full of adventures started with knowledge and networking with incredible entrepreneurs around the world. It was amazing to feel that even with different ages, locations and industries we are not alone. The inspiration and motivation that I got on the entrepreneur weekend is still in me and this is what keeps me going to pursuit my dreams. Some weeks have passed and work and dedication has become a challenge. I have learned so much in so little time, through the constantly perseveration of my mentor we have manage to put ideas into paper and proved with the Agora Accelerator that time has no limit when you are dreaming with your eyes open! #thanksagora

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