The 2009 to 2010 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report for Guatemala stated that Guatemala was the sixth highest in the world and fourth in Latin America for the Rate of Early Entrepreneurship (TEA in Spanish). It cited 16.2 percent, or roughly one in six Guatemalans, between the ages of 18-64 are currently starting a business, or own a business that is less than 42 months old. For Guatemala, this rate is higher than the average observed for countries with a similar economic structure. Today you'll hear three entrepreneurs talk about their journeys into entrepreneurship and their current work in Guatemala.
Luis is an Ashoka fellow and social entrepreneur who founded Bakabs. Bakabs is a network of small and medium tourism enterprises focusing on rural areas of Guatemala. Hotels, restaurants, transport and entertainment venues work together with artists and artisans creating economic, social and cultural development in the Guatemalan countryside.
Mark's career has been in the hospitality industry, serving as a general manager of hotels in Honduras and Panama, hotel property developer, and president of Connor Jacobson Hotels based in Central America. He is a business advisor to and investor in several Central American firms. He has a BS from Cornell University. Four years ago, co-founded Pomona Impact and now works to grow an impact investment 'ecosystem' that will provide financial and technical support to early stage impact businesses in Meso America.
Maria graduated from business and tourism management at Istmo University, Guatemala City and in 2011 completed her Sustainable Rural Development master degree from Flacso Guatemala / Wageningnen University. In 2007 she founded ByoEarth, a social venture that promotes vermiculture in vulnerable areas of Latin America. In 2011 she was elected as an Unreasonable Fellow and in 2012 she completed the Agora Partnerships business accelerator. Over the last year, she has been working in slum areas, in partnership with two non profits (Technoserve and Fundación Junkabal) to promote vermiculture as a sustainable livelihood for women in extreme poverty.