High-Impact Entrepreneurship

Join the global conversation


Endeavor Investor Network Convenes Over 120 Entrepreneurs and Investors in NYC

On May 5th, the Endeavor Investor Network convened growth market leaders in New York City for a day of networking and learning. The invitation-only event gathered over 120 participants including Endeavor Entrepreneurs and leading investors […]

May 13th, 2015 — by admin

Read more

In the news

Endeavor Greece Research Spotlights Local Entrepreneurship Scene; Featured in The New York Times and BloombergTV

Endeavor Greece recently released findings in an infographic highlighting  the nation’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene, the rise in local startups, and the influx of both domestic and foreign investment capital. With ventures in the ICT sector dominating, […]

March 25th, 2014 — by admin

Read more
Get RSS Feed

Endeavor Entrepreneur Lilian Simbaqueba recognized on Forbes.com

In the Forbes.com article “Predicting the Path Out of Poverty: Microfinance & Credit Risk Analysis,” Endeavor Entrepreneur Lilian Simbaqueba is recognized for the success of her risk analysis company, LiSim.

First starting out in 1996 in Bogotá, Colombia, Lilian found her niche in the field of microfinance and developed one of the world’s first scoring systems that determines which individuals would most benefit from uncollateralized loans.

Author Elmira Bayrasli describes how through Accion International Lilian was able “to expand LiSim to 26 countries worldwide, including neighboring Peru and Bolivia as well as India, Bangladesh and several in Eastern Europe. By 2007 she had 50 percent of the market share in Colombia and Latin America.”

However Lilian was not satisfied.

“There were two problems with this,” Lilian says. Though she had managed to salvage her business by taking on microfinance lenders, she was not bringing in the revenue needed to scale LiSim up. “Accion wanted to work on one project a year. That was not enough,” she says.

It is Lilian’s adaptability and “thinking big” that has enabled her to continue to serve the poor while transforming her client base.

Today, 40 percent of LiSim’s clients are telecom and utility companies (Telefonica is her largest client), cable television providers and other for-profit enterprises such as Colombia’s largest fitness chain, BodyTech. Microfinance comprises 10 percent of LiSim’s business. “I’m still serving the poor,” Lilian says.

She serves them through the telecom and utility companies that use credit scoring for lower income clients. This has enabled several thousands to gain access to phone lines, mobile and landline, electricity, gas and water. “These are things that the poor need,” Lilian says, “wherever they are. That’s something that microfinance misses.”

Read the article in full here.

Remembering entrepreneur Felipe Cubillos

Update: to learn more about Felipe and his incredible accomplishments, check out this new article in the New York Times, “On a Mission to Help Chile Until the Very End.”

The Endeavor community deeply regrets the passing of entrepreneur Felipe Cubillos, whose life was cut short in a tragic plane crash near the Juan Fernández Islands earlier this month. Felipe was traveling to a ceremony celebrating reconstruction efforts in response to the February 2010 earthquake off the coast of Chile when his plane went down with 21 passengers on board. Felipe was an accomplished sailor, author, entrepreneur, and tireless promoter of his organization Desafio Levantemos Chile (Lift Up/Rise Up Chile Challenge). Endeavor selected Felipe in March 2002 for his company Senegocia. The 48-year-old father of four will certainly be missed, and Endeavor sends warm thoughts to his family and friends in this difficult time.

You never should give up. You shouldn’t believe that things aren’t going to happen only because they get very difficult. You have to keep moving forward. You shouldn’t be afraid to lose everything, because if you have earned everything in a good way, for sure you will recover it, multiplied.
– Felipe Cubillos

Entrepreneurs: 30 tips for writing and effective communication

By Wempy Dyocta Koto (reprinted from Under30CEO).

Words change the world.

They inspire, unite, direct, empower and prompt action.

They also discourage, divide, anger, misguide, confuse and mislead.

Empires, governments, businesses, relationships and careers rise and fall because of words.

Study President Obama’s inaugural speech, John Lennon’s Imagine, Shakespeare’s King Lear, The Oprah Winfrey Show’s 25 years of broadcast, Forrest Gump’s sweet assessment of life and Pliny The Younger’s love letters to Calpurnia and you will realize the power of words.

In faith and belief, billions and generations of people have centered their lives on words within Judaism’s Tanakh, Christianity’s Bible, Islam’s Qur’an, the Hindu Sruti, Buddhism’s Theravada and more recently, Scientology’s Dianetics.

Words change the world.

As young CEOs and aspiring entrepreneurs, think very carefully about the words filling the borders of your emails, documents, instant messages and social media profiles.

Never, ever, underestimate the professional and personal impact of the words you write and send into the ether. Businesses rise and plunge, with written communications evidenced everyday in the world’s courts of law in cases against entrepreneurs, CEOs, leaders and colleagues for abuse, defamation, breach of contract, incompetence, misdirection, unfair dismissal, harassment and unlawful business engagement.

As email is the dominant communication tool for entrepreneurs today, here are thirty suggestions to protect and power your enterprise with words that inspire, drive business, loyalty and return on written investment.

1. Approach every email with the motivation of selling, optimizing or approving an idea, product, service, direction or recommendation. As an entrepreneur with major time, revenue and organizational demands, the opportunity cost is high when communication is not borne from this motivation.

2. Before writing, assess if your objective is more efficiently achieved with a meeting, call, office or workstation visit.

3. Your parents, grandparents, guardians and teachers taught you manners. Please use them.

4. Address the email recipient by her or his name. This also applies to cold sales prospects that you do not have a direct relationship with. She or he is not known to colleagues as a ‘Sir/Madam’ or ‘Whom It May Concern’. Research their name and designation and you are more likely to receive a response and better still, a positive one.

5. ‘Hi’, ‘Good morning’ and the like are acceptable ways of starting an email. A less traditional approach is the way forward and if the recipient is based in another country such as Thailand, use a warm ‘Sawasdee Krub’ and thankful ‘Khob Khun Krub’. Case study, glocal HSBC.

6. If you don’t have a direct relationship with the recipient, state how you are connected or where you acquired their email address, for example through a mutual contact, database, LinkedIn or web-research.

7. Be honest, write with integrity, recommend responsibly and sell your proposition factually.

8. Keep sentences and paragraphs short and to-the-point

9. Avoid unnecessary upper cases, exclamation marks, repeated use of symbols, emoticons and chat abbreviations.

10. Minimize corporate jargon, acronyms and big words.

11. Always use the spelling and grammar check tools.

12. Clearly explain instructions, use simple words and delete words which may be open to misinterpretation.

13. Reply logically, sequentially and thoroughly.

14. Numbering and bullet-pointing are effective.

15. Remove all negative emotions. If a subject matter is contentious, write or respond professionally with facts, void of emotion.


Interview with Endeavor’s Allen Taylor (Director, Global Networks), selected for “Top 99 Under 33″

Allen Taylor, Endeavor’s Director of Global Networks, has been featured in Diplomatic Courier magazine’s “Top 99 Most Influential
International Professionals Under 33″
. What follows is the full interview from the article, originally published here.

Describe the impact on foreign policy you have made in your current/past jobs.

For the past decade, my passion has been working to connect the cultures and people of the United States with those in emerging markets, particularly in Latin America. I have done this through my work at three different non-profit organizations, including Princeton in Latin America (PiLA), which I co-founded back in 2002, and Endeavor, where I have spent the past five years in various leadership roles.

I steadfastly believe that harnessing the energy, creativity, and innovative capacity of the private sector is critical to the future of foreign policy.

I currently serve as the Director of Global Networks for Endeavor, an innovative, global non-profit that seeks to transform emerging countries by establishing High-Impact Entrepreneurship as the leading force for sustainable economic development.

Based in San Francisco, I lead Endeavor’s efforts to connect its portfolio of 350+ emerging market companies with US-based mentors and investors. My current work focuses on building out Endeavor’s West Coast presence, and leading the Endeavor Investor Network – a new initiative designed to connect US-based venture capitalists with High-Impact Entrepreneurs and local investment partners in emerging markets across Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa.

Over the past 5 years I have devoted my entire life to innovation and entrepreneurship, but in a way that you might not expect. I have spent every waking moment working alongside and in support of entrepreneurs in emerging markets. But not just any entrepreneurs: the incredible men and women I have had the good fortune of supporting and guiding have all been recognized by Endeavor, a private sector-focused economic development organization, as “High Impact Entrepreneurs.” We made this term up at Endeavor a few years back, but, in short, these entrepreneurs are the ones with the greatest potential and the biggest ideas – the ones who can change not only their companies and their communities, but also the world. And most importantly, they are the ones – 600+ of them representing 350+ companies from 12 countries – who have created 158,000 jobs and $4.5 billion in annual revenues.

What personal contribution to foreign policy are you most proud of?

Founding Princeton in Latin America (PiLA), which has placed over 100 fellows in 12-month service fellowships in Latin America over the past seven years, remains the single greatest source of personal pride for me in this realm. These young leaders return home with a profound and lifelong commitment to Latin America.

What is your vision of foreign policy in the 21st Century?

I firmly believe that the next two decades will belong to the Emerging Markets. And the story goes far beyond India and China. In fact, I think the real “untapped regions” of the world where I see tremendous potential for investment and growth in the years ahead consists of the emerging world – specifically beyond India and China. That starts with the other half of the BRICs (Brazil and Russia), but also includes countries like those included in the 2005 Goldman Sachs group called the “Next 11” (Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Turkey, and Vietnam), and The Economist’s new acronymic grouping (2010) of the “CIVETS” (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, South Africa).

In brief, I see 30-40 countries in all – scattered across several regions of the world – that represent significant global growth and influence in the near-to-medium term. But if I have to pick just one region, my money is on Latin America.

Over the past decade I have lived, worked and traveled in over 70 countries, and called seven cities home: Buenos Aires, Berlin, London, Istanbul, New York, Bogota, and now San Francisco. I consider myself a global citizen who steadfastly believes that innovation and amazing entrepreneurs truly can come from anywhere. But I am increasingly convinced that Latin America – powered by Brazil and Mexico as dual growth engines, but also with significant contributions from Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and others – will be the most dynamic part of the world over the next decade.

What is the greatest foreign policy issue facing our generation?

The single greatest foreign policy issue facing our generation is the increasingly dynamic movement of information and capital across an interconnected global economy, placing enormous strain on the archaic laws and policies governing the flow of the world’s most important asset: human capital. The rapidly globalizing economy will demand smarter policies around immigration in America and across the globe.

What challenges need to be overcome to create better foreign policy?

Structural challenges of our “19th Century nation-state” world will be increasingly challenged and disrupted in the years ahead by global actors, be they negative forces for change like terrorist groups, or positive ones like dynamic, entrepreneurial companies and/or NGOs. Figuring out the roles of state actors and their foreign policies, and how they work with non-governmental leaders from the business and social sectors, will be perhaps the greatest challenge of our generation.

What personal, managerial, and leadership skills and traits must the next generation of foreign policy leaders possess?

Courage and bold ambition, mixed with the ability to listen.

How can foreign affairs be made more accessible to Americans, particularly younger generations?

Every single U.S. college student should be required to spend at least six months in another country to graduate. Gap years abroad between high school and college should be encouraged. Language learning in primary/secondary school should be emphasized. In short, we need to make the world matter to Americans. And to make it matter, first they must be exposed.

Which living or dead foreign policy practitioner do you look up to the most?

Woodrow Wilson

Which living or dead foreign policy practitioner do you think has missed the mark and why?

Lenin, Marx, etc.

If you could change a critical decision in history to affect foreign policy, what would it be?

I think a lot of the decisions made in the late 1940s after WWII had the most profound impact on the next half-Century. I would have loved to have been an actor in those discussions in trying to better anticipate what was to come and shape a more positive outcome.

Gaming site Jawaker, started by two Jordanian Endeavor Entrepreneurs, attracts investment

Reprinted from Wamda.com

Arabic content fund twofour54 Ibtikar recently announced investment in social gaming sites Jawaker and Tahadi, marking the latest in a slew of investments in the gaming sector since January.

Jawaker is a social gaming company that was started as a pet project by partners Mohamad Haj Hasan and Yousef Shamoun, the Endeavor Entrepreneurs behind Akhtaboot, a Middle Eastern online career network. Jawaker is a multiplayer card gaming website has thus far generated a large online gaming community of over 500,000 registered users. The company has succeeded in targeting the largely under-served gaming market of the Arabic world, which is increasingly demanding high-quality, culturally relevant games.

Haj Hasan said: “twofour54 ibtikar’s investment in Jawaker will enable the company to capitalise on the rapidly expanding popularity of online gaming regionally. With the region’s extremely high percentage of young people combined with increased broadband penetration, we will look to work with twofour54 ibtikar to expand our current offering and develop and publish a wide range of Arabic card games for the region’s burgeoning online audience.”

The investment marks continued growth for the Arabic gaming market centered out of Abu Dhabi, which is now being branded as a “the Middle East’s leading gaming hub.”

Video (The 99 Percent conference): Linda Rottenberg offers advice to entrepreneurs in creative industries

In this talk at Behance’s 99% conference, Endeavor co-founder and CEO Linda Rottenberg addresses some of the key challenges facing creative startups. She urges entrepreneurs to push their “crazy” ideas, think big, and engage in peer mentorship. Click here to view the video on the 99% website.

Next Web features Chilean “Gringas” Julie McPherson and Anette Krohn

Endeavor Entrepreneur Julie McPherson, and Anette Krohn, Operations Manager at Endeavor Chile, have been featured in a recent Next Web article, Latin American Startups: Eight “Gringas” to Watch Out For. The article profiles eight women who have moved to Latin America to work in entrepreneurship, finding great success.

The two women are highlighted as follows:

Julie McPherson

Earlier this year, we listed Julie McPherson as one of Ten Women to Watch in the Latin American tech space. Indeed, regardless of nationality, Julie is a key figure in the Chilean tech ecosystem. She describes the company she co-founded, Tiaxa, as “a one-stop-shop for the Latin American telecom industry.” Launched in 2002 to provide services such as WAP portals, the company pivoted a few years ago; its core business is now to help telcos with their data service infrastructure.

An American, Julie met her Chilean husband in 1996 while working at an investment bank in Santiago. She then returned to the US, where Tiaxa was created in 2000, before moving back to Chile where the company has been headquartered since 2002. Julie is committed to developing the local business ecosystem; she’s supporting other female entrepreneurs thanks to the Impakta program she co-initiated in Chile with fellow women entrepreneurs from the Endeavor network.

Anette Krohn

Anette Krohn is the Operations Manager at Endeavor in Chile. As you may already know, Endeavor is a non-profit organization that supports entrepreneurs around the world, with a particular focus on emerging countries. It started operating in Chile in 1998 where it currently supports around 50 ventures, “after screening more than 3,000 candidate companies.” Besides its offices in Santiago, Endeavor Chile launched operations in 2010 in the city of Temuco, 670 km south of the Chilean capital.

Anette, who studied at the universities of Gothenburg and Uppsala in Sweden, joined Endeavor Chile in 2004. Before joining the organization, she worked at Swedish companies in Europe and South America. She then went on to work at Trade Chile, a company whose mission is to “facilitate investment and trade to and from Chile”. The country seems like a perfect fit for her: this mother of two lists “hiking, skiing and sailing” as her favorite hobbies.

IrisGuard says future of security is in eye of beholder

Reprinted from The National. See the original post here.

By Farrah Halime

Lights flash in unison on a row of black boxes at passport control at Jordan’s Queen Alia International Airport, on standby for the next batch of visitors.

The devices have a key job; to scan irises, the coloured part of the eye, so that newcomers are added to a government database and criminals are kept at bay.

[Endeavor Entrepreneur] Imad Malhas, the chief executive and a co-founder of IrisGuard, the Amman-based technology company behind the iris scanners at Jordan’s airports, says the machines may not look pretty but “they do the job”.

When IrisGuard first pioneered its iris recognition software for the UAE’s airports in 2001, Mr Malhas says the country was trying to stop banned workers trying to return to the Emirates to obtain work illegally. Since then, he says the software has caught 600,000 people attempting to enter the UAE illegally.

He is a staunch advocate of iris scans as the best form of identification. Fingerprints, he says, wear over time or can be damaged.

“One iris is as good as 10 fingerprints. So if you are working with an adverse government or you are a drug lord and have three different passports with three different identities, if we tie the eyes to you, you won’t be able to do that.”

The high level of security related to the iris recognition system – imitating an iris is said to be impossible – has led various governments to team up with IrisGuard.

Some maximum security prisons in the US are using the system to prevent impersonations and mistaken releases and in South Africa the system is being used by parents to help to protect their children against child trafficking.

The company is also in the process of enrolling 1.4 billion Indians on to the New Delhi government’s software to help to keep track of the subcontinent’s huge population.

Although some critics have questioned the morality of the system, saying some governments are digging too deep into the identity of individuals, Mr Malhas dismisses such criticism.

“Ultimately, what is it the government wants? It wants to help you and make sure you are secure and you really don’t want certain types of people coming into your country.”

There is a softer side to the business, however. Mr Malhas has big ambitions for the retail use of the iris recognition system.

He has been talking to two major retail banks in the UAE about rolling out a system that would allow customers to use iris scanning technology to withdraw cash at ATMs or to identify themselves to tellers. Cairo Amman Bank, a retail lender in Jordan, has been offering this service since 2008.

Mr Malhas also expects to launch a small, sleek offshoot of the iris scanner, the EyeSign, which resembles an iPhone, next year. It will allow users to access banks and other encrypted websites securely from home or from their laptop, and “order pizza with their eye, shop online with their eye, bank with their eye”, he says.

“We’re trying to revolutionise the way people regard security, and banking and shopping. Soon it’ll be like the cellphone: what did we do before?”

Q&A: Iris scanners

How does it work? The iris recognition software scans the iris, the coloured part in the middle of the eye just in front of the lens. Mr Malhas wants to make the scanning system the preferred method of security for accessing websites and online banking.

How secure is it? The company bases its promise of high-level security on the fact that a person’s iris is unique.

What comes next? Mr Malhas is talking to more banks in the Middle East to allow customers to withdraw cash by merely scanning their iris. He regards the security system as a reliable method for accessing online.

Join us as we celebrate High-Impact Entrepreneurship at the 2011 Endeavor Gala

We hope you will join us at what promises to be a memorable evening. Seats are limited, so email gala@endeavor.org to reserve your table today!

Why do investors walk away from deals? 5 tips on how to pitch successfully

Reprinted from Wamda.com. You can find the original article here.

Assad Hamzeh is the founder and CEO of Sharakeh (www.sharakeh.net), a Jordanian company that connects entrepreneurs and business owners to venture capitalists and angel investors and provides advisory services.

I am in the business of introducing entrepreneurs seeking funding to investors. Being based in Amman, I have met many highly motivated young Jordanian entrepreneurs who have great ideas. Unfortunately, many of their products fail to launch simply because they lack knowledge about pitching to an investor and negotiating deals.

Entrepreneurs and investors here tend to the look at the project from two very different angles. Entrepreneurs tend to be emotionally attached to their projects, and want to protect them from being taken advantage of. Investors tend to look at projects as risky ventures that could threaten their assets. If there are no formal shields in place to guard against the potential risks, they will not invest.

Doubt can be a healthy factor driving negotiations. But when one or both sides walk out on a lucrative business opportunity due to unrealistic fears, it’s unproductive. Unfortunately a lack of mutual understanding is a primary obstacle that I see in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Jordan. Entrepreneurs think that investors are out to steal their projects, and investors think that entrepreneurs are out to rob them.

So here, I will offer tips explaining how to rely on formal structures rather than allow unfounded suspicions to rule the day.

Here are my top five tips for entrepreneurs:

1. Create a good business plan summary.

Even if your business model is great, it won’t matter if the investor cannot easily understand it. Often when entrepreneurs come to pitch to me, I read business plans that are too short and incomplete, or too long and too technical.

An ideal business plan write-up should be 10-15 pages long, and should have an executive summary that explains the concept in one to two pages. Investors don’t want to read 80 pages of details to understand if they like the idea or not. Give them just enough material to get interested, so that your summary is a good foot in the door to future discussions.

2. Don’t be afraid to share your idea.

Often entrepreneurs are afraid of presenting their business plan because they are concerned that the investor will steal the idea and create the company himself. But refusing to show an investor a business plan is like going to a doctor and saying “I feel bad somewhere in my body, but I can’t tell you where.”

If you have a good idea, go and register for a patent, and do whatever it takes legally to protect your idea. But don’t withhold a business plan, and don’t ask for a nondisclosure agreement either- mistrust will kill a deal.

Believe me- ideas are a dime a dozen. And in reality, it’s difficult for someone else to take your idea and implement it. If you’re worried about sharing an idea because you think anyone can do it, perhaps it’s not that great.

3. Give investors a specific plan for partnership.

Often I see entrepreneurs that don’t know what they need from an investor. They will ask for a vague investment anywhere from $50,000-500,000, and won’t include shareholder or partnership agreements.

It’s best to create a plan for the partnership. Explain whether the investor will be an active member in the board of directors, and what his or her voting rights will be. Offer a specific amount of equity. If you say, for instance, I will give you 30% equity and put you on the board of directors, then you can negotiate whether he or she votes, and on which decisions. This will put the investor at ease.

4. Don’t overestimate the value of your company.

Often here, entrepreneurs will overestimate their market. They will begin with the population of Jordan- six million- and determine the size of their market based on too large a slice of that population.

Or instead aiming first for a local market, they will aim to scale up right away without taking into account the costs of new staff, new facilities, and new management structures.

Another mistake is underestimating the competition and undervaluing the risk. It’s important to do good market research across the board and accurately predict the impact of these factors and the size of your market.

5. Be ready for a real partnership with your investor.

Finally, I often see that many business owners are not ready and willing to work with investors as true partners. They tend to present themselves to the investor as though they do not want to be questioned. They would simply like to take a monetary investment and then work to deliver a profit.

Again, this fear of partnership stems from entrepreneurs’ misperception that if they bring investors in as partners, the investors will somehow kick them out and run the business themselves. But investors don’t want to run a business. And a formal business agreement will set clear guidelines for the partnership.

In general, investors will see right through you if you try to sideline them from the start or obscure information. It’s best to engage investors as the powerful mentors and facilitators that they can be. When you walk into a meeting with an investor, bring your confidence and research to the table but leave your suspicion at door.

Contact us

Press center


Newsletter Sign Up