Hola Blog Readers! Yes, you read it correctly. We are no longer in West Africa, but have moved to Santiago Chile. Quite a change, but it’s exciting.
Why Santiago? While in Ghana, we applied and were selected to be a part of the Startup>Chile business incubator. Our application (for our concept-stage social enterprise) was one of 1500 applications from around the world. 100 were selected.
Startup Chile is a Chilean government program designed to encourage and support entrepreneurship. The government gives each company a $40,000 grant to work on their business, as long as the entrepreneurs live in Chile for a six-month period. We are part of “Generation 9”; 800 other companies have participated in the program over the past three years.
According to founder Nicolas Shea, the program’s goal is to promote entrepreneurship among Chileans and to raise awareness of Chile among entrepreneurs around the world. Since it’s inception, several hundred entrepreneurs from dozens of countries have participated, and they now claim to have the “largest entrepreneurial community in the world.” If this sounds familiar, both Leslie and Ben have participated in this program with their own startups. Leslie was in Generation 1, and Ben was in Generation 3. We are told that we are the only multi-generational family with 100% participation! We found this picture of Ben and Emma (Ben's girlfriend) in the Startup Chile "Hall of Fame".
Our New Colleagues. Our fellow “Suppers” are a lively group. The average age is around 30. We are definitely outliers. Generation 9 is split into two groups of 50 companies. On Monday and Tuesday of this week, each company had five minutes to “pitch” their enterprise. More than half of the companies are creating online “platforms” which connect various subgroups on the web — e.g. musicians with venues in India, lawyers with clients in Chile, designers and clients in Venezuela, patients and medical records in Argentina, etc. Others have online applications, ecommerce offerings, and “you name it”. Only a few other companies sell a physical product and not many are “social enterprises”.
RahRah4Good. Our startup, RahRah4Good, is a social enterprise that designs and sells jewelry made by African women in team colors for sports fans around the world. We’re working on developing our designs and our “supply chain” and will be actively working with some of the contacts we made in Africa over the past few years. We’ll be writing more about "RahRah" as the concept develops and operations commence.
Orientation, Getting Settled. Landing in a new city is always a challenge. Chile is very organized, but there is lots of paperwork to process, which is called “trámites” — our new favorite Spanish word.
To date, we have:
- Visited the police station to obtain a document stating that our record is clear
- Obtained a temporary Registration Number—called RUT—which may take until April 17 to be finalized
- Submitted the paperwork to start the process of opening a bank account
- Notarized the contract for our temporary apartment. The procedure involved two signatures, two fingerprints, and four rubber stamps on each page.
- Got a cell phone sim card with minutes for voice and data
Each process has required standing in multiple queues, often for an hour or more.
Luckily, Leslie lives in Santiago, and she has been very helpful in sorting out the ‘’trámites” and translating for us.
We feel very fortunate to be able to embark on this new adventure. We’ll be writing about the progress of developing our social enterprise and adapting to our new environment. As always, we invite you to share our journey!