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Endeavor is announcing the launch a new office in Puerto Rico, aiming to usher in an era of growth and economic development driven by high-impact entrepreneurship on the island. With strong engagement and backing from local business leaders, Endeavor Puerto Rico will support entrepreneurs and companies that have passed through the initial start-up phase and who demonstrate the potential for rapid expansion and scale.
Endeavor Puerto Rico will be led by a strong founding Board of Directors, chaired by QMC Telecom International Holdings LLC Co-CEO and Co-founder Jose Stella. The founding board also includes Ignacio Alvarez, president and CEO of Popular, Inc.; Lisanne Dorion, former vice president legal and global director of intellectual property for Bacardi International Limited; Maria Luisa Ferré Rangel, president of Grupo Ferré Rangel; and Mike Soto Class, founder of the Center for New Economy.
“As an entrepreneur myself who founded, grew and sold a company in Puerto Rico when there was no solid ecosystem to support new ventures, I’m confident that Endeavor will be a key component to scale up high impact entrepreneurs and boost the local ecosystem to compete globally,” said Endeavor Puerto Rico Chairman Jose Stella.
San Juan, and Puerto Rico more broadly, is home to a growing startup community, a celebrated history of high-impact entrepreneurship across pharmaceutical and biotech industries, and graduates from top engineering universities — in short, a market with many of the ingredients already present to build a sustainable entrepreneurship ecosystem. Nevertheless, Puerto Rico faces significant challenges, as it works to rebuild in the aftermath of the Irma and Maria Hurricanes in September 2017, which compounded an already precarious economic situation.
Endeavor, which was founded in Buenos Aires in the midst of financial crisis in 1998, believes strongly that as economies turn down, entrepreneurs turn up. As Puerto Rico reels under more than US$70 billion in debt, a group of self-starting entrepreneurs are arising in a proactive effort to build new businesses and create new markets. In doing so, these entrepreneurs are bringing prosperity and employment to a region that needs a solution to rising poverty and a shortage of jobs.
“We believe that now, more than ever, high-impact entrepreneurs have a leading role to play in rebuilding Puerto Rico and transforming the economy,” said Endeavor Co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg. “We’re excited to support Puerto Rico’s most talented founders, and connect them with the resources they need to scale-up, create jobs, draw investment to the island. There’s enormous potential.”
Endeavor Puerto Rico’s day to day operations will be led by Erika Medina-Vecchini. Erika formerly served as Chief Business Development Officer for Puerto Rico’s Department of Economic Development & Commerce and Industrial Development Company, where she focused on strengthening the island’s economic value proposition, attracting new investment and diversifying Puerto Rico’s economic activity. She also became the main liaison to the fast-growing entrepreneurial ecosystem and investors, promoting cross-sectorial collaboration and supporting programs, tax incentives and startups enhancing innovation in the island.
With a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Communication from American University in
Washington, D.C., Graduate Studies in Public Policy from Columbia University in New York City, and over 15 years of global experience in strategy, marketing, and business development, Erika is fully committed to leveraging Endeavor’s global network to engage entrepreneurs in thinking global and position Puerto Rico as a competitive destination to do and grow businesses.
“I’m honored to be the leader of this global organization in Puerto Rico and become a facilitator to high-impact entrepreneurs that need access to capital, market, talent and data in order to scale up their businesses,” said Erika. “This island is full of talented and passionate innovators that have developed strong ventures with infinite potential of growth. Endeavor’s global network is the key they need to escalate. It’s a pleasure to join forces with my colleagues of the local ecosystem to offer entrepreneurs the support they need to move up the economy of Puerto Rico and become global shapers.”
Endeavor is a 20 year-old nonprofit organization that is leading the global movement to facilitate long-term economic growth by selecting, mentoring, and accelerating the best high-impact entrepreneurs around the world. Founded in 1997 by Linda Rottenberg and Peter Kellner, Endeavor has helped over 1,600 of these entrepreneurs build more than 1,000 companies across 30 markets, which generated combined revenues of $15 billion in 2017. To date, companies led by Endeavor Entrepreneurs have created 1.5 million jobs, and often go on to mentor and invest in the next generation of founders, or serve on the boards of Endeavor offices.
Endeavor Puerto Rico will focus on selecting high-impact entrepreneurs and businesses from multiple sectors that have the potential to scale significantly and reinvest back into the country by mentoring and providing financial support for successive generations of entrepreneurs. The office will concentrate on providing these entrepreneurs with access to capital, talent and a worldwide network mentor and peer connections.
For entrepreneurs interested in learning more about Endeavor in Puerto Rico, please connect with the team at InfoPR@Endeavor.org.
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