Entrepreneur Challenge, 2nd Edition

The second annual edition of the Entrepreneur Challenge is in its second phase of selecting local youth who will receive up thousands of dollars to start their own businesses in Puerto Rico.

The secretary of the Department of Economic Labor and Commerce (DDEC by its Spanish acronym), Manuel Laboy, explained that last February 280 young adults registered to be part of the event and, after an initial evaluation, 125 participants were selected. They then participated in group training sessions that ended in May, which were adapted using social distancing measures because of the COVID-19 emergency.

"Despite the new living conditions since mid-March, this group of young adults did not give up and managed, through the use of technology, to complete their 16 hours of training for the development of their business models. Persevering and reinventing yourself in tough times is key to business success. Definitely, local talent meets these characteristics and therefore, as Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced has stated, it is one of the pillars of Puerto Rico's economic development," Laboy said via missive.

For the last phase of the initiative, only 10 participants who completed the 16 hours of training, with viable business ideas and who have met other requirements, will be chosen. Those selected will have the opportunity to receive individual advice, validate their idea, and present their business model in front of a panel of experts in the event known as Demo Day.

The idea stemmed from a collaboration between the DDEC'S Youth Development Program and INprende, a platform that promotes and facilitates innovation and entrepreneurism.

The Youth Development Program allocated $25,000 to be distributed between the winners and runner-ups. First place will receive $10,000 to start the process of opening their business, second place will receive $8,000, third place will receive $5,000, and fourth place will receive $2,000.

"This year, despite the challenges that the pandemic brought us, we managed to digitize the program and send the participants the complementary tool to their homes. The goals of the first phase of the program were fully met and in the stipulated time. We had perfect participation and motivation, and the desire to continue forward prevailed at all times. The 125 young people organized and structured their business ideas through the Entrepreneur Challenge's educational methodology without any limitation," INprende Executive Director Natalia Bonderenko said.

Roberto Carlos Pagán Santiago, director of the Youth Development Program, said that all participants who completed the 16 hours of entrepreneurial training will receive a certificate that will allow them to request financial aid and incentives for young business owners, provided by the DDEC.

For more information on the initiatives of the Youth Development Program, contact youth@ddec.pr.gov.

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