Paraguay Emprende

Paraguay Emprende: Empowering Youth Through the Spirit of Entrepreneurship

Asuncion, ParaguayNational Program, Paraguay
Year Founded:
2013
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Scaling
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Paraguay Emprende empowers Paraguayan youth to cultivate their entrepreneurial spirit, think creatively, develop personally and create their own economic opportunities by offering an annual cycle of events, business planning classes, seed funding awards, mentoring relationships and teacher training.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if...all Paraguayan youth not only felt sufficiently empowered and educated to make innovative and entrepreneurial decisions about their economic futures, but also generated a positive impact in their communities as social entrepreneurs?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Youth (15-29 years) are the future of Paraguay and make up about a third of the population (28.5% according to the 2012 census). Youth report high levels of unemployment and underemployment (44% are not engaged in the labor market), low wages, little access to dignified work with benefits and low levels of education. The rural/urban and gender divide amplify these economic hardships among subgroups. Economic empowerment is this future's solution.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Paraguay Emprende's solution is to work with youth in both urban and rural areas of Paraguay to provide free entrepreneurial education and events that amplify their personal and professional development. Our annual cycle, which reached 13 of the 17 departments in Paraguay this year, included 12 regional workshops, 35 business planning courses, a national event awarding 30 businesses with seed funding, and mentoring and consulting relationships to ensure sustainability. Our services utilize local expertise, social media, mobile technology and interactive teaching methods to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship, create new employment opportunities and multiply the social impacts that our young entrepreneurs make in their communities.

Awards

Publication in Peace Corps D.C. Newsletter
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Walter was a shy 17-year-old, wondering about his future after high-school in his rural community. After attending a Paraguay Emprende workshop in a city nearby he decided to sign up for the local "Construye Tus Sueños," or "Build Your Dreams" course. Then, Walter had an idea. He loved informática, or computer technology, but there wasn't a single place in town to access the internet or to print. He solved this problem and followed his passion by presenting his business, W.M. Servicios Informáticos, to a panel of judges at the Paraguay Emprende National Taller where he won $800 USD in seed funding. With help from Paraguay Emprende mentors, Walter continues to provide valuable technological services to his community and live his dream.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Since 2013 Paraguay Emprende has worked to achieve its mission to "awaken entrepreneurial interest in Paraguayan youth and instill technical capacities to initiate and provide ongoing support to sustainable and successful businesses." In total, Paraguay Emprende has offered 76 "Build Your Dreams" business planning courses to 1,070 participants in 13 departments of Paraguay. 99 business plans have been presented to Paraguayan judges at the National Taller and 43 winners have been awarded Gs. 109 million in seed funding. 54 mentor relationships have been established to ensure sustainability and 23 Paraguayan facilitators have been trained to teach the "Build your Dream" course. The numbers, do not show the informal effects of the program, such as the generation of jobs, youth business networks, personal development and the social impact that our participants have had in their communities.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

As Paraguay Emprende operates with more experience and data, we are able to make informed decisions about our strategy for the future. The achievement of our mission and our vision of sustainable business development will be realized through 5 key areas: systematization, sustainability, collaborative alliances, diversification of funding and robust monitoring/evaluation. Our impact goals include open access to quality service delivery, targeting vulnerable populations, emphasis on social entrepreneurship, a high rate of business success via mentoring, and maintaining a wide geographic scope.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Paraguay Emprende is supported by an alliance between the public and private sector that provides volunteer program and administrative support as well as financial resources. Local support, including volunteer teachers, an alumni network and donation of local spaces and materials increase stakeholder buy-in and program scale-up. Formalization as an independent NGO in 2015 will aid our fundraising strategy in order to promote stability and growth.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We are an active collaborator in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Paraguay, which includes several large organizations, such as Fundacion Paraguaya and Fundacion CIRD, working to address economic opportunities for youth. Our unique differentiator is that we are allied with 4 institutions: the Peace Corps, the Asociacion de Jovenes Empresarios, the University Co-op and the Secretary of Youth in order to provide innovative and dynamic services that have a country-wide reach. We also have relationships with KOGA, the one social enterprise incubator in Paraguay and various university incubators.
Team

Founding Story

In January of 2013 I worked with a group of Peace Corps Volunteers that was interested in forming a partnership with the Asociacion de Jovenes Empresarios (AJE), a non-profit that I was director of the board for at the time. We decided to establish Paraguay Emprende through AJE, and from the beginning I was committed to the idea because I am passionate about entrepreneurship and firmly believe that small businesses can have a great impact on communities. Young entrepreneurs see possible solutions that their peers who migrate to the capitol to find jobs cannot. With very little capitol to start and lots of hardwork, we saw huge advances in the communities and lives of our young entrepreneurs.

Team

Our team is diverse, professional and we work entirely on a volunteer basis. We are currently working within the Paraguayan legal process to transition to a formal NGO by the end of 2015. Our "Table of Allies" or board is comprised of a representative from each of our partners institutions, the Peace Corps, the Asociacion de Jovenes Empresarios, the University Co-op and the Secretary of Youth. We then have a Steering Committee made up of Community Economic Development Peace Corps Volunteers who collaborate with the partners to perform programming and administrative tasks. We work with a trained group of 35-40 Paraguayan and Peace Corps facilitators who teach classes in both rural and urban sites across the country and we have a base of Paraguayan business leaders who act as mentors to our participants and judges in our national workshop. Our local level teachers also engage their communities with the "Build Your Dreams" classes and regional events by inviting local professionals as guest speakers and judges in local competitions. By utilizing our network of alumni, business leaders and international professionals we bring a unique mix of expertise and perspective to our participants' experience. Our goal is to create a Paraguayan NGO this year and as the program grows strategically handover the organization so that it is 100% Paraguayan led in 5 years.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Facebook Share

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Paraguay Emprende Co-Founder Liliana Rojas, current representative for the Asociacion de Jovenes Empresarios

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

I have lived and breathed entrepreneurship with Paraguay Emprende and the Asociacion de Jovenes Empresarios (AJE) for the last three years while studying at night for my Masters in Business Administration. I also work full time in accounting and sales for my family's medical supply business. I studied accounting as an undergraduate, and although my classmates and I developed many projects that looked good on paper, there was never the enthusiasm or follow through that I have experienced with Paraguay Emprende and AJE. I have served voluntarily on the board of AJE in various capacities, most recently as the treasurer and nexus to the Paraguayan Government. I have helped to plan two international entrepreneurship conferences with over 1,000 attendees each, presented various speeches and led workshops, facilitated networking events and pitch competitions that have resulted in new investor-entrepreneur relationships and most importantly have generated a positive impact on the young entrepreneurs that have participated in these events.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

My parents are my greatest mentors. I have worked with my family business since I can remember and our philosophy of innovation, quality products, excellent customer service, building relationships and social responsibility has shaped my approach to life and to my work. Even today I receive advice from my parents when I am starting a new venture or encounter a new obstacle. This is why I believe the mentoring piece of Paraguay Emprende is so unique and important; a mentor is someone who has passed through the same challenges as a young entrepreneur and the solution can always be found in their experience.