By Laura Marrin, Princeton in Latin America fellow
From day one in Chile, I was directly immersed in Endeavor’s work and this hands-on learning is what enabled me to really understand Endeavor’s work and become even more passionate about it. So what exactly do I do at Endeavor Chile? Through my PiLA position I have worked primarily in the Search & Selection department, searching for, interviewing and supporting local high-impact entrepreneurs as potential Endeavor candidates.
Through working for Endeavor Chile I have learned a number of important things about entrepreneurs, businesses, and economic growth and development in Latin America. With my Search & Selection work I have had the opportunity to visit two of our regional offices in Antofagasta and Puerta Varas in order to interview potential candidates. Through these trips, not only have I discovered other fascinating parts of Chile, but I have also learned about the different types of challenges that entrepreneurs face in the regions versus in Santiago. Some of the different challenges that entrepreneurs in Chile face involve: raising capital, getting loans, developing a concrete business pitch, creating a shareholders agreement, receiving legal advice as they expand their companies internationally, and how to conceptualize short and long term strategic growth plans. However, only supporting entrepreneurs in the capital will have a limited effect in helping Chile’s economic growth and development as a nation, which is why Endeavor Chile is committed to finding and supporting high-impact entrepreneurs in others regions, as seen by its four regional offices.
Additionally, I was lucky enough to be able to attend one of Endeavor’s famous International Selection Panels (ISP), where Endeavor candidates undergo a series of intense interviews to decide if they will be accepted into this global high-impact network. I attended the ISP in Punta del Este, Uruguay this past December. This is when I finally truly understood the entirety of the Endeavor model and what an amazing impact it has.
As part of the preparation for these international selection panels, I write detailed 14 page business profiles on our candidate companies, which has also been an eye opening experience. I now understand much better how entrepreneurial ventures are often formed and how a company designs its business model, thinks of its client base, decides on its value proposition, thinks about growing its internal team and plans for the short term and long term success of the organization.
In January I also had the chance to accompany some of our Endeavor entrepreneurs and candidates to the Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness in Latin America (ECLA) program that is hosted at Columbia University’s Business School. This two-week course was the first part of the ECLA program in which we all received a crash course in the foundations of international business which included classes on: accounting, problem definition, pricing, operations strategy, data analysis, sustainable enterprises, and information technology. Participating in this part of the ECLA program not only enhanced my knowledge of business principles, but also provided me with the opportunity to meet high impact Endeavor entrepreneurs from all over Latin America.
When I look back on my last 9 months with Endeavor Chile, the first thing that comes to my mind is how grateful I am for receiving a PiLA fellowship and having the opportunity to spend my first year after graduating from college working in Latin America with an amazing non-profit like Endeavor. The people that I have had the pleasure to meet and work with are what have had the greatest influence on my wonderful experience here in Chile. From day one, my colleagues at Endeavor Chile welcomed me into the team, not just as some new intern fresh out of college, but as a team member with important ideas to share.
At Endeavor Chile we celebrate birthdays, weddings, and going aways together, which has made my Endeavor Chile colleagues my family away from home. I have developed a deep respect and appreciation for both the caring and amazing people that I have met in Chile as well as the awe-inspiring diversity and beauty of this country which spans deserts in the North, to valleys in lakes in the metropolitan area, to glaciers in southern Patagonia. No matter what adventure awaits me after my PiLA year with Endeavor, I know that my time with Endeavor Chile will always be one of the highlights of my life.
As I reflect on my amazing Endeavor Chile PiLA experience to date here is a list of my most memorable moments.
– Learning to dance the cueca (the national folkloric dance of Chile) and engaging in crazy relay race antics with my Endeavor coworkers to celebrate Chilean Independence Day
– Stargazing in the San Pedro de Atacama desert
– Attending an International Selection Panel in Uruguay and becoming even more passionate about the Endeavor model for economic growth and development
– Ziplining in the mountains of Mendoza, Argentina
– Attending the ECLA program and learning basic business principles
– Trekking through Patagonia to see breathtaking glaciers