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Una CITA en el COLAB

A podcast where we will be having conversations with leaders of several sectors about topics related to the Visitor Economy – such as short-term rentals, asset revitalization, the decentralization of tourism, and much more.

You will be able to listen to different points of view from various leaders in the private, public, and community sectors, and more about the economic development of our archipelago.

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Teaser

Una Cita En El Colab is the oficial podcast of Foundation for Puerto Rico, where we talk with several leaders from the public, private, and community sectors, among others about topics related to the visitor economy and economic development of Puerto Rico.

S1: Ep1. Opportunities and Recommendations towards PC 1557 with Carlos Muñoz from Airbnb

Carlos Muñoz from Airbnb arrives at Una Cita en el Colab to speak with Alan Taveras, our marketing and development director, about his stance on House Bill 1557, which seeks to create a law that regulates short-term rentals in Puerto Rico. We also talked about the economic impact Airbnb has had on the archipelago, other regulations they have encountered prior to this one, and their involvement in recovery efforts after Hurricane María in Puerto Rico. Get to know his opinion and be part of the conversation in #UnaCitaEnElColab.

S1: Ep2. Affordable Housing and the effects of Short-Term Rentals in Puerto Rico with Lic. Godreau from Ayuda Legal PR

During our second episode of #UnaCitaEnElColab, we sat down with Lcda. Ariadna Michelle Godreau Aubert, executive director of Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico, a non-profit organization that provides free legal services to Puerto Ricans in need, and focuses in areas such as evictions, people who are affected by fair housing issues in our archipelago, among other things. The lawyer and executive director elaborates on the organization’s experience dealing with cases of people who have been affected directly by the lack of affordable housing, recommendations for people who are going through an eviction process, and the organization’s point of view regarding #PC1557, a bill that seeks to regulate short-term rental housing.

S1: Ep3. Managing Short Term Rental Housing in P.R. with Carlos and Xaymara Ávila from JoyStay PR

Tune in to this episode, where we sat down with Carlos Ávila and Xaymara Ávila, founders of @Stellita Glamping and @JoyStay B&B Management, a local company that handles short-term home rentals, to talk about this economic activity model and its impact on communities. 

Throughout the episode we discuss how both companies were founded, how the short-term rental model helped them save their home, tips for getting good reviews on the platform, recommendations for people considering this business model, and the reasons why Puerto Rico has the highest Superhost”  ratings on @Airbnb. In addition, we talked about the positive and negative impact of this business model on local communities and their opinion regarding Bill #PC1557, which seeks to regulate short-term rentals on the island. 

S1: Ep4. Short-term Rentals and Affordable Housing in P.R. with municipal legislator Manuel Calderón Cerame

In our fourth episode of #UnaCitaEnElColab, we sit down to speak with the spokesman for the PPD in the San Juan municipal assembly, Manuel Calderón Cerame; who introduced a legislative measure to moderate short-term rental housing units in San Juan. During the episode, the legislator discusses the benefits, challenges, opportunities and dangers of short-term rentals, his recommendations for a good regulation, the project of the San Juan legislature that seeks to administer taxes on short-term rental housing units, the lack of affordable housing, and his point of view towards bill #PC1557. 

S1: Ep5. Affordable Housing in PR with Luis Gallardo from Centro para la Reconstrucción del Hábitat

During the fifth episode of #UnaCitaEnElColab we spoke with Luis Gallardo, executive director of Centro para la Reconstrucción del Hábitat; a non-profit organization that tackles the problem of abandoned properties in Puerto Rico. In this conversation we elaborate on some myths that exist around public nuisances and abandoned houses, the need for a housing registry in PR, suggestions to solve this problem and his opinion as to whether short-term housing rental affects the affordability of housing in Puerto Rico.

S1: Ep6. Affordable Housing in PR with Luis Gallardo from Centro para la Reconstrucción del Hábitat

In this episode, we talk about the housing crisis in Puerto Rico with Rafa Rojo, former president and current member of the board of the Puerto Rico Builders Association, and president and CEO of VRM Companies. Throughout the episode, we received his input on the evolution of the real estate developer industry in P.R. since the nineties, the effect of the economic recession on the construction of new structures and those in development, and the impact of recent events such as the pandemic, hurricanes, and more. In addition, he talked about political, natural, social, and economic factors that affect the supply of housing available to low- and middle-income families.

S2: Ep1. Visitor Economy

A few months ago, we created this podcast to discuss issues related to the visitor economy, its impact on economic development, and its effect on Puerto Ricans’ daily lives.

During this second season, we will elaborate on the key factors that drive this economy and talk with various entrepreneurs and leaders who actively participate.

We invite you to listen to the first two episodes! In the first episode, we will talk about how this economic model works with our research manager, @Francis Pérez. On the second episode, we will speak with @Liliana Albizu from @Handcrafted Weds & Events about her experience participating in this economy.

S2: Ep2. Destination Weddings

A few months ago, we created this podcast to discuss issues related to the visitor economy, its impact on economic development, and its effect on Puerto Ricans’ daily lives.

During this second season, we will elaborate on the key factors that drive this economy and talk with various entrepreneurs and leaders who actively participate.

We invite you to listen to the first two episodes! In the first episode, we will talk about how this economic model works with our research manager, @Francis Pérez. On the second episode, we will speak with @Liliana Albizu from @Handcrafted Weds & Events about her experience participating in this economy.

S2: Ep3. Cultural Heritage Tourism with Joana Santiago from Junte Boricua

In this episode, we talk about Cultural Heritage Tourism with Joana Santiago, executive director of Junte Boricua; an initiative developed by @GFR Media. Through Junte Boricua, they aim to attract 50,000 Boricuas in the diaspora to visit the island next summer, highlighting our cultural heritage and creating flagship events that showcase our culture on the island; such as bringing the Puerto Rican parade from New York to the Island. Learn more about this topic in this episode of Una Cita en el Colab.

S2: Ep4. Destination Content Creation with Katherine Rodríguez from TripsNCities

An episode for travel lovers!

Join us for the fourth episode of the second season of #UnaCitaEnElColab, where we sit down with Katherine Rodríguez, destination content creator and founder of TripsNCities.

Join this dynamic conversation, where Katherine tells us how her business came to be and how it contributes to the Visitor Economy. In addition, she shares with us what a day at work is like for a travel content creator, how she appeals to her audience and achieves collaborations with brands, some unique destinations that she has visited outside and within P.R., and suggestions to improve the destination content industry in the island.

S2: Ep5. Adventure Tours with Francisco Amundaray from Nátura PR Tours & Experiences 

Join us in the last episode of the second season of #UnaCitaEnElColab, where Francisco Amundaray from Nátura PR Tours & Experiences tells us about his experience working in the tourism industry and creating a business that contributes to the Visitor Economy. In addition, he talks about proposals to have more holistic and collaborative approaches with other sectors to achieve common goals within this industry, his vision on new tourism technologies and experiences (such as Airbnb Experiences) and how the government should regulate them to conserve our natural heritage, and culture.

S3: Ep1. Artificial Intelligence as a Destination Marketing tool with JP Polo

In the first episode of the third season of Una Cita en el Colab, we sat with Jean Paul “JP” Polo, Chief Creative Officer and founder of Wanabí Puerto Rico, and talked about how Artificial Intelligence can serve as a destination marketing tool. Additionally, we discussed his experience creating creative pieces for Discover Puerto Rico and Wanabí, how he has applied AI technologies to facilitate creative processes, and how data generated through these technologies helps professionals make more informed decisions, among other things. In addition, JP elaborates on why AI, despite presenting marketing solutions and accelerating creative processes, will never replace advertising and marketing agencies.

S3: Ep2. Artificial Intelligence in Agriculture with Luis Torres

In this episode, we step out of the Colab and visit the facilities of Engine-4 in Bayamón, where we talk to one of its founders, Luis Torres. Through this conversation, we learned how the organization is innovating and educating, using new robotics and Artificial Intelligence technologies, innovating in agriculture, and providing solutions to maintain a secure food base in the face of crises such as the pandemic, climate change, and more. Additionally, Luis elaborates on their efforts in collaboration with the Municipality of Bayamón, educational initiatives, and trips to other cities like Medellín, where they have transformed lifestyles to greener ones through technology, among other things.

S3: Ep3. Artificial Intelligence and Human Resources with Lcda. Julybeth Alicea from Aireko Construction Group

In episode 14 of “Una Cita en el Colab,” we talked with Attorney Julybeth Alicea, Human Resources Director of Aireko Construction Group, about areas of opportunity to integrate Artificial Intelligence technologies in the Human Resources sector. We discussed how these technologies are revolutionizing the workplace by streamlining processes and helping professionals become more efficient. Additionally, she elaborates on her vision for the future of the workforce and how companies in other parts of the world have utilized AI, along with the regulatory approaches taken by other countries.

S3: Ep4. Artificial Intelligence and the Public Service Reform with Arnaldo Cruz from the Financial Oversight and Management Board

In this episode of the third season of #UnaCitaEnElColab, we continue to delve into the topic of Artificial Intelligence, this time from a governmental perspective. We sat down to talk with Arnaldo Cruz, Director of Research, Analysis, and Public Policy at the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico, discussing the Public Service Reform being implemented in various government agencies in Puerto Rico and how AI facilitates it. 

S3: Ep5. Democratizing Education using Artificial Intelligence with Soraya Sesto from Casa Grande Interactive 

In the sixteenth episode of “Una Cita en el Colab,” Francis Pérez, FPR’s Research & Analysis Manager, sits down with Soraya Sesto from Casa Grande Interactive to talk about the democratization and access to education through technological platforms such as Artificial Intelligence. Additionally, they discuss Casa Grande Interactive’s efforts and how it uses education as a driver of social transformation, leveraging technology as a facilitator, along with successful programs like Operación Éxito and more. 

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Healthcare

Imagine a world where every ailment is detected in its earliest stage, where every treatment is personalized to your unique genetic makeup, where tedious administrative tasks are automated, allowing your doctors to focus solely on your care. Picture a healthcare system where life-saving medications are discovered at lightning speed, and mental health support is just a click away, available 24/7. Visualize surgical procedures carried out with unfaltering precision by robotic hands, guided by artificial intelligence.

In this world, AI-powered wearable devices monitor your health continuously, flagging potential concerns before they escalate. Virtual assistants remind you to take your medicine, answer your questions, and provide you with comfort during your healthcare journey. Regardless of where you live, quality healthcare is always accessible, thanks to telemedicine driven by advanced algorithms.

This world isn’t a distant utopia. It’s the imminent future of healthcare, transformed by AI. A future where disease prediction, prevention, and treatment reach unprecedented levels of efficiency, accessibility, and accuracy. A future where healthcare becomes truly personalized, proactive, and patient-centered. Welcome to the revolution of healthcare by artificial intelligence.

We see a future where healthcare becomes truly personalized, proactive, and patient-centered. This is the revolution of healthcare by artificial intelligence.

Alleviating healthcare worker burnout: Puerto Rico is experiencing a healthcare worker shortage, with the few that remain experiencing a disproportionately high workload. This has caused long wait times and various medical areas to be unattended. The number of workers is not proportional to our population. This is increasingly worrying considering the advancing aging population. Due to this, burnout is incredibly common among the available healthcare workers. Artificial Intelligence has the potential to alleviate this problem by revolutionizing the healthcare system by improving efficiency, accuracy, and accessibility. AI can assist in early detection and diagnosis of diseases, aid in treatment planning, and enhance patient monitoring through remote care and wearable devices. It can automate administrative tasks (e.g., documentation, scheduling, record management, information retrieval, etc.), streamline workflows, optimize resource allocation, reduce healthcare costs and alleviate the burden on healthcare workers. AI-powered technologies, such as virtual assistants and chatbots, can provide basic medical information, freeing up healthcare workers to focus on more complex patient care. AI-driven decision support systems can enhance clinical decision-making, reduce errors, and improve patient outcomes. Additionally, AI-powered research and data analytics can accelerate medical discoveries and enable personalized medicine. These AI-enabled solutions have the potential to enhance the healthcare system’s efficiency, alleviate healthcare worker’s burnout, and ultimately improve patient outcomes.

Healthcare accessibility for isolated municipalities: In Puerto Rico, there are gaps in healthcare accessibility. Some municipalities, specifically those at the center of the island, have little to no access to healthcare services. Most times, they either have only one physician for the whole community, which causes long wait times, or they must commute out of their municipality to receive medical service. Telemedicine enabled by AI-powered platforms allows remote consultations, breaking down geographical barriers by providing access to medical services in these isolated areas. AI can also facilitate remote monitoring of patients’ health conditions through wearable devices and sensors, allowing healthcare providers to track and manage their health remotely. This reduces the need to commute out of their municipalities for in-person appointments. Additionally, AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can offer 24/7 support, providing immediate responses to basic medical inquiries and delivering healthcare information to patients at their convenience. Likewise, AI algorithms can assist in diagnosing and conducting a preliminary assessment on patients, providing access to specialized care even in areas where certain medical specialties may be scarce. Therefore, implementing AI can help reduce healthcare disparities on the island.

Ensuring Healthcare for the Aging Population: Puerto Rico has a rapidly aging population, its share of older residents being one of the largest in the world. At current rates, Puerto Rico will be disproportionately populated by older residents. This brings a myriad of concerns, specifically in the healthcare sector which can be easily overwhelmed by the large influx of older patients. AI could be the solution to this problem. AI can assist in the personalization of healthcare plans by considering the unique needs and preferences of older adults. Through AI-powered monitoring systems, the health of elderly individuals can be remotely tracked, allowing for timely intervention and proactive care. AI-based virtual assistants can offer companionship, reminders for medication and appointments, and support for daily living activities which can enhance the independence and well-being of the elderly. These options reduce the need for in-person medical services. This way, AI can ensure Puerto Rico’s elderly are taken care of despite the limitations of personnel and resources.

Drug Discovery and Development: Puerto Rico used to be a pharmaceutical manufacturing giant until companies started to leave for places with better tax incentives. The pandemic demonstrated the issues with outsourcing medical drugs and resources. This started conversations on needing to re-domesticate the health industry. Since Puerto Rico already has the necessary infrastructure, it has an advantage over other locations. With the help of AI, Puerto Rico could become once again the pharmaceutical mogul it used to be. AI can significantly shorten the time to market for new drugs by predicting their effectiveness and potential side effects. It can also identify potential therapeutic uses for existing drugs, thereby repurposing them and saving time and resources in the process.AI can be used to analyze large datasets of genetic and biochemical information to identify new drug targets. This can help to focus drug discovery efforts on promising targets, increasing the chances of success. AI can be used to design new drug molecules that are more likely to be effective and have fewer side effects. This can be done by using AI to simulate the interactions of drug molecules with target proteins. AI can be used to screen large libraries of drug candidates to identify those that are most likely to be effective. This can help to reduce the number of laboratory experiments that need to be conducted, saving time and money.

Mental Health Care: Overall, there is a mental health crisis in Puerto Rico. The uncertainty about the future, economic struggles, natural disasters, and a failing healthcare system have contributed to a worsening mental health. There’s a complex trauma within the residents that is not being properly addressed. In the field of mental healthcare, AI has the potential to revolutionize the way that people receive care. One of the most promising applications of AI in mental healthcare is virtual counselling and therapy. AI-powered chatbots can provide support and therapy to people who live in remote areas or who cannot afford traditional therapy. These chatbots can be accessed 24/7, making them a convenient and accessible option for people who need help. For example, the company Woebot offers an AI chatbot that can help people to manage their anxiety and depression. Woebot is trained on a dataset of millions of text messages, and it can use this data to provide personalized support and advice. Woebot can also track a user’s mood over time, and it can alert the user if their mood seems to be declining. Another way that AI can transform mental healthcare is by monitoring patients’ moods and emotions. AI-powered apps can be used to track a user’s mood, sleep patterns, and other factors that can affect mental health. This information can then be used to identify people who are at risk for developing mental health problems, and it can also be used to track the progress of people who are already receiving treatment. Moodpath offers an AI-powered app that can help people to track their mood. Moodpath uses a variety of methods to track mood, including facial recognition, text analysis, and surveys. This information can then be used to identify patterns in a user’s mood, and it can also be used to provide personalized advice. In addition to providing virtual counselling and therapy and monitoring patients’ moods and emotions, AI can also be used to alert professionals when intervention is needed. For example, AI-powered apps can be used to track a user’s heart rate and breathing rate. If these measurements indicate that a user is experiencing a panic attack, the app can automatically send an alert to a mental health professional.

Pika Pika Productions continued...

Jennilys Lajara-González founded Pikapika Productions with hopes of making a positive change in Puerto Rico after she left for 3 years after Hurricane María, felling she owed it to her homeland. After the pandemic hit in 2020, she decided to return to the place that truly made her happy, and upon returning, was shocked at what appeared to be a different Puerto Rico: a place where people were standing up more for what they believed in, what they deserved, and were determined to make positive changes to improve the island’s future. As a starting point, Lajara started networking among leaders from several nonprofit organizations and entrepreneurs and began making fundraising events for them, in what would be the start of Pikapika Productions.  

Lajara shares that her business was born “in reverse”. She explains that prior to submitting to PULSO, Pikapika was not even a registered business, although she was already getting requests from potential clients. She knew she still required taking essential steps to formally launch her business, such as a business plan, permits, insurance and access to capital. Still, Lajara was completely lost on how to go about this. “I had the product, but needed help correctly structuring the business”, reports Lajara. Moreover, she explained that she knew she needed a team of mentors that were not only great, but were the best at what they did. After viewing a Facebook ad about the CNPP program, PULSO, she researched spokes and thought this was the opportunity she had been looking for.  

Lajara was not disappointed. During an interview, she elaborated that each spoke brought essential knowledge that not only helped her business but also helped her aid the organizations to which she provided services to. Spoke Colmena66 was the first to provide Lajara with guidance, receiving a personalized action plan with referrals to other support services that could establish a baseline for her journey, as well as leveraging the network of entrepreneurial support organizations in Puerto Rico. Lajara explains that this was extremely useful for her, as she identified a lot of available resources that were already at ther disposition but did not know. 

Spoke Centro para Emprendedores was also very helpful for Lajara’s journey in building her business. Before coming into PULSO, she had encountered numerous hurdles and was overwhelmed by the bureaucratic and administrative work that the state requires. Centro para Emprendedores helped her map out a process where she could complete all the missing steps for her to have her business properly established without interfering with the boost of clients she was receiving.  

Lajara also expressed several times her immense gratitude for spoke INprende’s mentor Natalia Bonderenko and their team. This stage proved to be one of the most helpful for her in terms of taking her services to a new level, challenging her to produce something different and innovative, opening her mind and business to new opportunities that have proved fruitful for her in the months ahead, securing more clients and collaborations.  

The Pikapika owner also appreciated being “being called out” by her mentors from Brands of Americas, after seeing the amazing things he had been doing, but not visibilizing any of ther initiatives. She went on to describe how this spoke’s counseling made realize the importance of taking advantage of what showcasing her work in social media could do to reach more clients. Since then, she has started documenting everything and participating in other social media platforms she had not considered before. This has resulted in new alliances and a broader network of clients and collaborators.  

Lastly Lajara also benefited from spoke the Latino Economic Development Center’s services, receiving valuable insights about what lenders are typically searching for when a business applies for financial assistance programs, loans, or any other financial aid.  

Today Pikapika Productions is a thriving business, with new and potential clients and partners thanks to CNPP services. Pikapika is a properly established business, it has a well-researched business plan, marketing efforts that are expanding and reaching new audiences through social media platforms, and an operational system that provides her with insights about the results of her marketing strategies. In our interview, Lajara adds that – just as importantly – she no longer feels like she is raising a business her own, and is grateful for the resources, support and knowledge she received from the PULSO team and the community she now feels is there to continue supporting her, which she describes as “best team possible”. 
 
“What advice would I give to people that are starting a business or already have a business? Learn about Pulso NOW! I even sent out invitations to people for Cohort 3. Because it’s important to educate yourself and keep learning. Because even though you may have a bachelor’s degree in business administration from 20 years ago, the world evolves, people change and everything changes and you need to keep changing, learning, and growing with it. And my recommendation for people who are thinking about being an entrepreneur or already are, is to always look out for resources such as this one. If this is your life’s work – like it is for me, you need to be accompanied by people who actually know. And if you have the opportunity to participate in a program like PULSO, (which is free!) you need to invest your time in it.” – Jennilys Lajara, owner of Pikapika Productions and {uerto Rico CNNP client. 

Tráime continued...

Javier Orlando Cordero Ríos and his partner Keshia Odette García Cabán founded “Tráime” during the COVID-19 pandemic in Puerto Rico, with hopes of having an additional income and make what they thought was an innovative idea come to life. Although Javier had previous experience being a business owner, neither Javier nor Keshia had a formal educational background in business. Javier has a college degree in Political Science and Keshia has a master’s degree in criminal justice, but both were able to manage several businesses thanks to Javier and his family’s experience managing multiple local businesses.  

“Tráime” is a service-oriented business that finds solutions for other businesses and entrepreneurs who are establishing their company. They provide services such as logistics, permit acquisitions, business assessments, merchandise transportation, and more. Prior to their participation in the PULSO program, “Tráime” was generating a healthy income by providing services to various clients, but the owners were worried about the longevity of the business. How would they keep this successful business model after the pandemic? In addition, Javier and Keshia were building their services from scratch, contacting several professionals to help them with the operations of their business and with their own clients. Due to their lack of knowledge, they had to invest both time and money in tasks they were unable to handle independently. 

According to both owners, PULSO provided them with the necessary knowledge to address various gaps. Additionally, the mentors affirmed the innovative nature of their business and confirmed they were on a promising trajectory. They described how counseling from spoke INprende was instrumental in identifying business opportunities and realizing the need to strengthen their businesses rather than spreading themselves thin across multiple clients. This shift allowed them to concentrate on delivering more comprehensive services to a select group of clients, leading to significant time and cost savings, and ultimately increase their revenue. 

Furthermore, they highlighted unanimous mentor consensus on the importance of enhancing their digital presence to attract more customers. Although they lacked the tools and knowledge for this, spoke Brands of Americas came to their aid by devising a content strategy and initiating the development of a landing page. This digital transformation not only improved their visibility but also helped streamline their operations and reduce the need for additional personnel. 

Both owners expressed their gratitude and relief for the robust business ecosystem in Puerto Rico and praised PULSO for providing comprehensive support in a structured manner. Overwhelmed at first, they found PULSO instrumental in guiding them through various aspects of their business. 

Less than a year into the PULSO program, “Tráime” is already hiring a part-time employee and has witnessed increased customer acquisition through their revamped social media strategy and services offering. They are even considering acquiring a physical location to expand their operations, particularly in client merchandise storage. Strategies developed and implemented through the program has enabled them to achieve their financial projections faster than anticipated. 

The participants expressed deep gratitude for the program, as well as their desire for more iterations of PULSO across the entire island. They suggested tailored versions of the program for individuals with business ideas, startups, and established businesses. They firmly believed that participation in such programs should be mandatory for all business owners, as it could minimize bankruptcies, enhance the longevity of seasonal businesses, and contribute to overall economic growth. 

As a final thought, Javier and Keshia expressed: “We recommend the program 100% because it has helped us in every aspect – not only as business owners and tangible results, but as human beings. There’s nothing like having the company experts and the positive energy that other business owners transmit”. 

Business financial literacy and credit counseling

During this stage businesses will gain deeper understanding on financial management, credit and financing. With the guidance and counseling of experts, businesses will generate and interpret financial reports. As a result of this stage businesses can expect to:

  1. Complete a workplan to start building personal and business credit score.
  2. Develop budget using available tools.
  3. Plan to have accurate and key financial information for decision making and loan applications.
  4. Develop business financial projections.
  5. Create a structured archive of key financial documents.
  6. Establish a relationship with a lender and a clear pathway for financing to address their current business plan.

During this last stage, businesses will understand their financing needs and have a clear path to reach those. If necessary, client will apply for financing through LEDC. With the guidance and counseling of experts, businesses will understand the importance of recordkeeping, assists clients to apply for a loan, overcoming barriers to accessing financing.

 

Modality: Virtual

 

Trainings per cohort: 3 workshops (2 hours each)

 

Individual counseling: 3 sessions per business (6 hours of direct services and 4 hours of indirect services)

 

Total hours per business/per cohort: 16 hours

Marketing and digital presence

Through three educational modules business owners will go from the basic concepts of the industry to the complexity of developing marketing campaigns, as well as strategies for customer acquisition and loyalty. It will provide individualized technical assistance to each business to develop a humanized brand, a marketing strategy (including digital) and to establish e-commerce as one of the company’s revenue streams, on an industry-specific platform. As a result, it is intended that businesses establish e-commerce (as applicable) with a sales strategy and a complete the development of a marketing strategy.

 

Modality: Face-to-face/ in-person

 

Trainings per cohort: 4 workshops (4 hours each + Q&A session)

 

Individual counseling: 1 session per business (1.5 hours)

 

Total hours per cohort/per business: 17.5 hours

Business plan innovation

The Business Innovation stage looks to encourage a growth mindset based on problem solving and identification of innovative business ideas with high potential to evolve into business. Using INprende’s methodology businesses will learn about the process and the necessary steps to develop an innovative business plan in a structured and result oriented way. Participants will receive a business innovation manual detailing the business plan methodology and a working template, which will guide businesses in their innovation journey. Through a series of workshops and innovation sessions, participants will conduct commercial, technical and financial validation exercises with the guidance of INprende. As a result, businesses will complete a detailed business innovation plan tailored to their business by the end of this stage.

 

Modality: Virtual

 

Trainings per cohort: 3 workshops (2 hours each)

 

Counseling per cohort: 3 innovation sessions (1 hour each)

 

Total hours per cohort/per business: 9 hours

Business 101

Business 101 is an introductory stage that paves the way for strategic business development, optimization and innovation. Through a series of workshops and individual technical assistance, businesses will be diving into their existing business models and learning about opportunities to grow under a new economy. Businesses will learn how to re-evaluate their customer segments, assess the viability of their existing business model, and identify key areas of opportunities considering new industries demands around the world. Businesses will also receive educational material and a revised business profile with an action plan to identify and assess new business opportunities.

With the help of experts, businesses will :

 

Identify pitfalls and areas of opportunities under existing business models.

 

Identify strategies to address challenges

 

Evaluate and ensure business follows existing laws and regulations. 

 

Modality: Virtual 

 

Trainings per cohort: 4 workshops (2 hours each) 

 

Individual counseling: 2 sessions per business (2 hours of direct services and 3 hours of indirect services)  

 

Total hours per cohort/per business: 13 hours 

Business assessment, profiling, and referral

Once selected to participate in the program, you will go through an assessment with Colmena66 that will establish a baseline for your journey before proceeding to the following stages. This assessment will also provide you with a profile of your business as well as referrals so you can leverage the network of entrepreneurial support organizations in Puerto Rico and expand your own connections to other business development resources and support.

Funding disclaimer

Foundation for Puerto Rico (FPR), Puerto Rico Housing Department (PRDOH), the Whole Community Resilience Planning Program (WCRP), CDBG-DR and CDBG-MIT Programs are not responsible for the publications shared in the WCRP Support Resources webpage and are not obligated to update the information.

FPR, PRDOH, WCRP, CDBG-DR and CDBG-MIT programs don’t manage any of the resources presented, can’t respond to questions related to these opportunities and neither represent or endorse any of the resources shared in this newsletter. For additional information, please refer to the links provided.

Non-governmental or external opportunities are provided for outreach purposes only. FPR, PRDOH, WCRP, CDBG-DR and CDBG-MIT programs don’t endorse, compensate or collaborate with any outside vendors or organizations and, as such, the expressions or content of the websites, applications or pages may not be construed as the official position or opinion of the mentioned entities with respect to these topics.

By browsing the websites linked on this page, the recipient assumes all liability, including, but not limited to, possible phishing attempts, scams and malware downloads. The user also accepts all responsibility and risk by clicking on cookies, as well as by rejecting or accepting any offers or advertisements. Providing name, phone, address, or other information, while browsing the websites linked above, is done at the discretion of the recipient. FPR, PRDOH, WCRP, CDBG-DR and CDBG-MIT programs have no influence or participation in how the websites use the data. They are also not responsible for the protection of user data and will not be liable for intrusions, expressions, hacking attempts or improper behavior on such websites.

N'Corcho continued...

His business is the first and only one in Puerto Rico that distributes innovative handbags and other accessories made from sustainably harvested cork. At first it was a challenge to convince people that these were high-quality products, because people normally associate cork with wine bottles and nothing else. Despite that, Morgan promptly started to move the product, making outstanding sales in festivals and major events in Puerto Rico. After seeing his huge success during these initial months, he decided to bet on himself and his business and invested all of his savings and earnings in new merchandise. Unfortunately, just days after his big investment, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the island and caused a complete lockdown – shutting down all events and malls island wide. This left Morgan with no liquid assets, no source of income and a house full of products that did not have a point of sale. Desperate, he turned to sell his products on the streets or wherever he could but was understandably worried about the image his brand would now portray. He really wanted to maintain his brand’s high-end look but was struggling to make ends meet.  

Although Morgan was able to open a store in a prominent northern region mall once social distancing measures were dialed down, he was still worried about his venture’s future. 2021 was a year in which both people and small businesses received financial relief aid, which allowed clients to continue buying his products, allowing his business to stay afloat. He anticipated that 2022 would be different, as financial aid became less available. He desperately needed entrepreneurial training to ensure that his business could bounce back and continue growing. 

When Morgan entered SBA’s community navigator pilot program in Puerto Rico, PULSO, he confessed he was very skeptical about the training he was going to receive, worried they would be a waste of time. His worries and skepticism faded away as soon as he began his first stage of the program, with spoke Colmena66. He described this as an enlightening moment that set the tone for the rest of this journey. During this stage Morgan was provided with a roadmap called “Tu Camino Empresarial” (Your entrepreneurial roadmap), which clearly detailed trails of business support programs and organizations that could help entrepreneurs and SME’s in establishing and growing their business, no matter what stage they were in. Morgan explained how he shifted to a more optimistic outlook, feeling that he was beginning to understand that he was not alone in this journey. Following the program’s second stage, “Business 101” led by spoke Centro para Emprendedores, Morgan was surprised at how mentors explained typically complex terms in ways that were easier for him to understand and apply to his business. The program’s third stage led by spoke INprende allowed him to better understand who his target client was, and that his current location may not be the place where they would typically go shopping, making him reconsider his point of sale. N’Corcho also benefited from the manual that this stage provided to improve his business plan, making it easier to plan ahead and make future projections. In addition to this stage, he also benefited greatly from the tools that spoke Brands of Americas provided him during the “Marketing and Digital Presence” stage, which helped him develop a more structured plan towards gaining more brand recognition in the Puerto Rican market. He also acknowledged that his social media skills received a major boost and that this, combined with his plans to expand, will duplicate sales and increase brand recognition in Puerto Rico.   

Morgan explains that following the program’s services, he now feels more confident about N’Corcho’s future, especially now that he has developed his support network with PULSO’s mentors and peers. After going through most of the program’s curriculum, Morgan was ready to apply for financing to implement his plans to expand based on his newfound knowledge obtained in PULSO. With the help of the spoke Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC), Morgan was able to structure his business’ finances and work on his loan readiness. LEDC was also able to guide Morgan through his loan application, which was ultimately approved for $45,000. 

After months of only having one point of sale and one part-time employee, Morgan is set to open a second location in a mall with higher traffic, recruiting 3 additional employees starting December 1st, 2022. In addition to that, Morgan was finally approved to receive a $45k loan thanks to the guidance from Latino Economic Development Center, the organization that led PULSO’s last stage. Morgan expresses immense gratitude for the support he has received from the CNPP consortium, insisting that given the chance, he would do it all over again.  

Wafol Café Success Story

Both were self-taught entrepreneurs, with completely different career and education paths (Alexander studied Electrical Engineering and Calibration, and Daphne was in the Natural Sciences field). By reading books they managed to learn about how to establish and run a restaurant. Prior to the program’s impact on Wafol Café, this innovative restaurant had a very distinctive business model. The restaurant had no servers and was based on a self-serve business model that allowed customers to come in and make their own waffles and breakfast by adding the toppings that they desired.  

However just 1 month after its opening in December 2019, Puerto Rico was struck by a series of earthquakes and 3 months after that, the first COVID-19 patients were confirmed and Puerto Rico was put under a mandatory lockdown. These measures put a serious strain on many entrepreneurs and small business owners like Alexander and Davny. In their case, they were able to partially resume their business after restrictions dialed down. Still, local regulations only allowed 50% capacity in restaurants, which ultimately pushed Wafol Café towards re-inventing their original business model into a dine-in experience with servers, while also implementing delivery services.  

PULSO’s stage-based assistance allowed Alexander and Daphne to overcome many of the challenges that they were facing, specifically in reassessing their original business plan to consider pre-existing and new challenges through the Business Assessment, Business 101 and Business Plan innovation stages of PULSO. In an interview with the CNPP Hub team Davny recalls that after a counseling session with spoke, Centro Para Emprendedores, they discovered that the way they were managing their inventory was part of the reason behind their cash flow limitations. 

Thanks to these services being provided early in the program, Davny and Alexander were able to learn about how discarded products, employee meal benefits and price inflation increased costs per unit, and how to adjust their pricing strategy to stay on top of it. 

They then began developing a standardized system to help them have more control of their finances. In addition, program services allowed Davny and Alexander to become aware that 40% of their sales revenue came from a specific product, which ultimately led them to develop a sales strategy to continue driving revenue through their star product. Additionally, counseling sessions made them realize that they were overlooking their weekday consumers (such as employees from nearby offices, parents that take their kids to school early in the morning, and retired/elderly people that live in the area), which represented an additional business opportunity for growth. The program’s innovation sessions with other cohort participants were especially helpful for Davny and Alexander in identifying additional business opportunities.

By connecting with other entrepreneurs from Vega Baja and nearby municipalities they concluded that their area did not have sufficient food delivery options, which was an area of opportunity to expand their services. The duo is now developing the second phase of their business plan that considers a rebranding effort that includes a new webpage connected to a new delivery system to help them take advantage of the opportunity and reach their ideal customer. As their business slowly moves into the digital experience, they recognize how workshops from spoke Brands of Americas are helping them ensure the successful implementation of these efforts.  

After having an original plan where they only contemplated 3 employees, they now have 14 employees and are in the process of restructuring their kitchen and buying advanced equipment to help them achieve their projected production capacity. What began as a part-time venture, is now a full-time source of income. They both expressed that since enrolling in the program they no longer feel like they’re raising a business on their own, and their progress has made it possible for Alexander to quit his day job and make his living wage completely off their business.  

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