This summer, the Pomona Impact team launched its first Roadshow in Partnership with ANDE (Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs) to announce the launch of our newest fund, the Pomona Impact Fund I, and our AgTech Accelerator. Both initiatives are focused at bringing finance and access to resources and networks to Central American enterprises. Through our roadshow with ANDE, whose purpose was to present on their entrepreneurial ecosystem map in each country, we were able to identify many common and separate gaps that exist in each country that we visited. Below are some of our findings, which we hope will prove to be interesting and will provide the basis on which to continue these conversations that were started in each country to improve collaboration and support of entrepreneurs in the region. We would like to thank all of the players that helped make these events possible, especially the teams for future and current Impact Hubs that are all part of the Latam Seed Program by Impact Hub:
Katia Dumont, ANDE Mexico and CA
Andrea Perez, Impact Hub San Salvador, El Salvador
Isidoro Díaz, Impactico, San Jose, Costa Rica
Pedro Cerrato, Impact Hub Teguz, Honduras
Kenneth Urbino Ybarra, Impact Hub Managua, Nicaragua
- Many entrepreneurs still view the social and for-profit sides as separate.
- In many of the Universities that exist in the capital, programs have started to help develop entrepreneurial projects but very rarely with a social focus in mind.
- Even those social enterprises that exist still view themselves as for-profit entities that just so happen to have a social mission.
- Entrepreneurs are finding that access to capital is very limited due to the insecurity of the country
For El Salvador, we saw the biggest turn out and the most interest in the event on the Fund and the presentation of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. There were stakeholders from a variety of sectors all very interested in figuring out how they could get more investment, support, and interest to the country. People are definitely very excited about the idea of social entrepreneurship and impact investment and want to learn more about how they can be involved or gain access to capital.
- Similar to El Salvador in many ways, the concept of social entrepreneurship is fairly new with the social side being for NGOs and business side being only for for-profits.
- The social impact sector is still very new with some Universities and other organizations starting to invest more time in research and investigation for new projects but as of yet there isn’t much momentum.
- Many would-be social enterprises are having a hard time finding government support or access to capital from outside of Honduras due to the instability of the country currently.
In Honduras, while we had a lower turnout, each stakeholder was interested to collaborate and learn as much as possible to try and attract more support for entrepreneurship. We visited one University, Zamorano, and saw a multitude of innovations in agriculture that they have started which is a great starting point for the foundation of a new social sector in the country.
- When talking to different stakeholders, the greatest obstacle is not lack of understanding surrounding social entrepreneurship but rather lack of opportunities for those students and graduates who want to get into the space.
- Even with the many social enterprises that exist, they find there is an abundance of talented people who are under employed in the space.
- There are a lot of barriers to entry into markets because of the high manufacturing costs in Costa Rica.
- There is a strong focus on and saturation of the environmental sector when it comes to social enterprises making it somewhat hard to create enterprises outside of that field.
Costa Rica is a powerhouse for social entrepreneurship, especially in the environmental sector with government and organizational support. There is a plethora of organizations and entrepreneurs who are already working in the social impact space and are interested in creating even more opportunities for employment in the sector.
- While there is definitely a lot more activity in the space regarding social entrepreneurship, it is still a relatively new space with support needed in a variety of areas.
- Government support has been lacking in the past for initiatives surrounding support for social entrepreneurs
In Nicaragua as well it seemed that there were a lot of organizations already in place to support entrepreneurs and a lot of growing interest in the social impact space. There is definitely an awareness of social enterprises and many accelerator and other programs to promote it. There is definitely more momentum towards social entrepreneurship in Nicaragua as well as Costa Rica and El Salvador.
In every country that we visited whether the ecosystem was well developed or not, we saw the desire for collaboration both within country and within the region as a whole. It is our hope to help host and participate in country and region-specific events that are both educational as well as for spurring networking among the different actors in each country and in the region. Our last event will be held in Guatemala City on August 30th from 2pm – 5pm in Chamba Co-working, Zona 4. To RSVP for the event, please contact Sarah Sterling at Sarah@pomonaimpact.com