Eco-Entrepreneurs 2013 leave Washington D.C. eager to put the newly acquired tools to work

On August 12-16, 2013, twenty-one (21) young entrepreneurs from eleven (11) countries in the Americas took advantage of an intensive week of training in Washington D.C as part of the Eco-Entrepreneur 2013 program. Entitled Week2Grow, the activities were designed to provide practical tools for implementation and business validation; but the program went further and created a space where the participants, experts and partners could share, inspire, innovate and work together towards the development of sustainable solutions in the hemisphere: "The participation of various experts makes the Eco-Entrepreneur content very well-rounded, covering the different aspects that need to be implemented for sustainable businesses. An aspect that is also very important for us as experts is the exchange of personal experience through the entrepreneurship clinics, where we are able to assist, guide, and share our experience [with the young entrepreneurs]." – said Rosa María de Frade, CBC Guatemala, during her interview with the YABT; she participated a speaker and mentored the teams during entrepreneurship clinics.

The Week2Grow, one of the four stages of the Eco-Entrepreneur 2013 program, is a weeklong event that was designed especially for the young entrepreneurs, program beneficiaries, focusing on different areas of entrepreneurship, including but not limited to leadership, implementation, marketing and innovation. When asked to give his opinion on his experience as an Eco-Entrepreneur, Ivan Cox representing the Book Line team from Barbados told YABT: "[The program] opened my ey¬es as to what I have to do to make my business better; and also how to help [social and environmental entrepreneurs] back home."

Day 1 focused on Entrepreneurship, where Dr. Pamela Hartigan from the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship of the University of Oxford worked with the young entrepreneurs to develop a Business Model Canvas, simultaneously identifying the weaknesses of the business models and building the participants' confidence by providing direct and supportive feedback. During Day 2 the beneficiaries had the opportunity to work with Dr. Djordjija Petkoski from the University of Pennsylvania to not only understand what it means to be a leader, but to break down the concept of ethical leadership, so necessary in a sustainable business model. On Day 3, Luz Stella Gómez from Parque E along with Edgar Muñiz from TEC de Monterrey inspired the creativity of the young entrepreneurs by presenting a series of dynamic workshops to stimulate new ideas and foster innovation. On the second last day of the event, PepsiCo provided strategic and marketing training to aid the entrepreneurs in developing a sustainable and visible organization, including presentations by Luis Montoya, President for PepsiCo Beverages Latin America and Dan Bena, Head of Sustainable Development for PepsiCo.

In addition to the trainings, the participants had the opportunity to showcase their projects at two business expos, gaining exposure and taking advantage of a space for international networking. First, at the private expo presented to Luis Montoya, President of PepsiCo Beverages Latin America and Ambassador Albert Ramdin, Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) on Thursday, August 15th; and later, at the international expo held at the OAS Headquarters on Friday, August 16th, prior to the event's Official Closing Ceremony.

Week2Grow closed with remarks from international authorities and a certificate award ceremony at the headquarters of the OAS. Addresses were given by Ambassador Alfonso Quiñónez, Secretary for External Relations of the Organization of American States; Eliav Benjamin, Counselor for Political Affairs for the Embassy of Israel to the United States; Dan Bena, Head of Sustainable Development for PepsiCo; Guillermo E. Ballin Castellot, Deputy Director for Employment and Training for Mexican Youth Institute; and Roy Thomasson, Founder and Chair of the Board of Directors for the Young Americas Business Trust. During his speech Amb. Quiñónez highlighted the importance of the partnerships that are built between the public, private and civil society sectors, leading to a meaningful impact in the development of youth entrepreneurship, but also economic, social and environmental growth in the region.

The Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) thanks the OAS, PepsiCo and the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship of the University of Oxford for their partnership in making this pilot program a reality. We also thank everyone who supported the young entrepreneurs by participating in the program by sharing their expertise with the beneficiaries, as a mentor, speaker or special guest.

Eco-Entrepreneur is a new program designed by PepsiCo and the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) with support from the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, University of Oxford. Eco-Entrepreneur assists young entrepreneurs in the implementation and expansion of projects focused on environmental issues.

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