For the past six months I have worked as a Lombard Fellow for Endeavor in the Chilean Patagonia. Endeavor is a global nonprofit that transforms emerging countries by selecting, mentoring, and accelerating the most innovative and promising entrepreneurs. The purpose of my fellowship is to help entrepreneurs coming from under-resourced areas grow and scale their businesses, making their enterprises substantially more likely to prosper. We in Endeavor believe that as entrepreneurs develop their businesses, they bring more jobs and services to their communities, further expanding prosperity in their regions.
During my fellowship time, I have worked with 15 entrepreneurs and their companies from the rural south of the country. The companies belong to many different traditionally local industries, such as manufacturing, salmon farming, and forestry, among others. In general, these entrepreneurs do not have anybody to turn to for advice or mentorship and are isolated when they face their decision-making, which increases their chance of making serious mistakes in their internal planning and organization. Thus, Endeavor as an organization is there to bring the mentorship and advise these entrepreneurs need when facing crucial decisions regarding their companies.
I started by organizing a strategic planning workshop followed by one-on-one individual mentorships. It is commonly known that entrepreneurs are too immerse in day-to-day activities to worry about their short and long term planning and goals, their current standing within their industry, and possible challenges and red flags in their companies. We did the workshop and the individual meetings with the help of the Endeavor mentors, who are businessmen and professionals that volunteer to help Endeavor achieve its mission.
As access to working capital is a major issue in rural entrepreneurs, we have also started a process of legal and financial pre-due diligence, in which the entrepreneurs get their financial numbers and legal status organized so that they are ready to raise capital should an investor be interested in their company. We are also organizing investor networks and road shows to expose the companies to potential investors or partners.
Furthermore, I helped organize and manage workshops and talks about entrepreneurship to high school and college students in under-resourced areas of the south of Chile. So far, we have had four high impact speakers talk to and inspire more than 800 high school students. We believe these talks will foster a climate of entrepreneurship among the youth in the area, and will have the goal of inspiring potential entrepreneurs to try their ideas in an organized manner.
Overall, I believe this experience has been a great school for a recent graduate like me. Throughout the countless mentoring meetings I had with entrepreneurs and Endeavor mentors I got to understand how a business works from a managerial perspective. Moreover, I got to understand how a business is founded, the various stages of its growth process are seamlessly achieved, and its final consolidation is undertaken. I have also understood the difficulties rural entrepreneurs face when trying to grow their companies and the potential solutions for those very problems. As people in the organization like to say, Endeavor is a real life MBA, as we face a different business case with each company we work with.
As I continue with my fellowship, I am excited to further help local entrepreneurs achieve a better country for themselves and their children through the improvement of their companies. I also hope to enhance my understanding of rural entrepreneurship and the Endeavor model in general. As I look forward to the future, I am convinced that the skills I gained, the people I met and the experiences I had will be of extreme value in my career. I will always be grateful to the Lombard Fellowship and the Dickey Center for the amazing opportunity they gave to me.