Re-Post from NextBillion

Hub Bogotá y Village Capital buscan empresas sociales en Colombia

por Jennifer Clessas

Bogotá, Colombia.


Village Capital es un fondo de impacto social de los EE.UU., que invierte en empresas durante la etapa inicial de su negocio. Village  utiliza el poder de grupos para desarrollar negocios con el potencial de cambiar el mundo y transformar la manera en que realiza sus inversiones. Los fondos se distribuyen a través de un programa de aceleración que dura 4 meses, con el objetivo de formar y seleccionar empresas para la inversión. El programa combina sesiones de evaluación por pares y entrenamiento con expertos, permitiendo oportunidades para establecer contactos y llevar un valor único a los emprendedores. Al final de cada programa, a partir de la selección de los expertos, dos emprendedores son elegidos para recibir una inversión de USD$50.000. La mitad de la inversión proviene de Village Capital, mientras que la otra mitad viene de un socio local.

En los últimos dos años, Village Capital puso en marcha 13 programas en todo el mundo (India, Kenia, EE.UU., Sudáfrica, Brasil), apoyando a más de 250 emprendedores. Los participantes han recaudado $ 12 millones, crearon más de 500 puestos de trabajo, y sirvieron a 7.500 clientes. Nos estamos ampliando activamente en todo el mundo, buscando nuevas ciudades, y nuevos sectores en los cuales enfocar nuestros programas (por ejemplo:  energía, tecnología móvil,  y un programa centrado en mujeres emprendedoras).

Llegando a Colombia

Village Capital está interesado en trabajar en conjunto con el Hub Bogotá, para llevar su programa de aceleración a Colombia. Actualmente estamos investigando el clima de las empresas sociales y la financiación disponible a juego en Colombia. Además, estamos tratando de determinar la mejor manera de ejecutar un programa en Colombia.



Estamos buscando todos los negocios sociales que estén interesados con el fin de recopilar información que nos ayude a implementar este programa. Las empresas que buscamos tienenlas siguientes características:

  • Tienen al menos un empleado de tiempo completo,
  • Tienen clientes (venden sus productos y servicios),
  • No han recibido financiamiento externo sustancial,
  • su modelo de impacto y de negocios están alineados (Nos dirigimos a empresas que generan impacto a través de la producción de su  producto o servicio, y cuya operación e indicadores de impacto son inseparables
  • Están interesadas en un programa de aceleración (Entrenamiento de12 semanas por un costo mínimo)

Las empresas interesadas pueden descargar este formulario y  enviarlo por correo electrónico a  Lisa Ravenel para más información.

Conoce más de Village Capital en esta presentación.

Social Entrepreneurs on the Rise in Colombia

As part of my internship assignment here in Bogota, my colleague and I have been asked to seek out social entrepreneurs that fit a specific set of criteria.  Our research has discovered that there is an ample amount of social businesses in Colombia, but many do not consider themselves to have a social purpose, and further, have no idea how to effectively measure their impact.  Being a part of the Hub here has allowed us to make some unique connections and meet some of these social entrepreneurs.

One of these businesses is called Tech4Riders, which produces airbag jackets for motorcycle riders.  The founder and director, German Acevedo Ordña, had been working for the Colombian Navy, as an engineer hoping to minimize wartime deaths.  What he discovered, was that more military personnel were dying from motorcycle crashes than from war-related incidences.  In fact, the highest cause of death in Colombia for those aged 15 – 30 is motorcycle accidents.   With this information, Mr. Ordña decided that he needed to do something to start saving lives.  Although Tech4Riders is not the only company in the world that is producing motorcycle airbags, it is the only company in the Americas, and he is trying to develop the technology at a low enough price, that Colombians will actually buy the vital piece of equipment.  Currently, there are jackets on the market in Japan and Europe that cost around US$800, or about 1/3 of the average yearly salary for a Colombian household.

So how does this technology work?  The airbag is fitted into a normal looking motorcycle jacket.  There is a cord that you can use to connect the jacket to the ignition of the motorcycle (imagine the same device used on a jet ski, if you get thrown off, the jet ski automatically powers down).  If a motorcyclist gets thrown from his motorcycle at enough velocity, the jacket will unlock and inflate in .3 seconds.

It is wonderful to see the rise of social businesses in Colombia, but what is still missing is availability to financing, especially local financing.  Banks in Latin America tend to loan at very high interest rates.  There are investment funds here in Colombia, but many are looking to make multimillion dollar investments in areas such as oil and coal, or mining.  The organization that I am working for, Village Capital, is investigating whether Colombia would be a good environment to invest in start-up social businesses.  In my opinion, there is sufficient evidence that the innovative social entrepreneurs exist here, I think the only remaining question is whether the financial climate is open to investments from abroad.  I believe it is, and I believe that social entrepreneurs such as Mr. Ordña will get his opportunity to save lives in Colombia and the Americas.

Nothing stands Still – Lunch with Ralph Simon

Today, I was fortunate to be part of a small gathering led by Ralph Simon, a long-time music industry executive and mobile technology leader.  Mr. Simon came to Hub Bogota to speak with staff and guests about how technology and social media are being used for innovation and social good around the world.  The talk was not only educational and eye-opening, but inspiring as Mr. Simon acknowledged Hub’s own leadership potential, “The Hub is creating a whole new road for Colombia to move forward.”

After working at the Hub for over a month now, I think it’s quite easy for the novelty of the Hub atmosphere to wear off; the co-creation meetings, the tables covered in scratch paper – to jot down ideas whenever they arise, the ability to suggest virtually any idea without getting an open-mouthed stare.  It was a refreshing to have Mr. Simon remind us that the Hub is a special place – one that you do not come upon everyday.  A work environment that thrives on innovation and change, and works to make ideas come alive.



As Mr. Simon said, “Innovation is everything because nothing stands still.”  Innovation is not about creating something completely new, but rather about transforming something existing into something  better and fresh.  The sad truth however, is that most firms are not excited by innovative ideas, and do not want to take a chance on something new.  Unfortunately “naysaying” is the norm and until we can break that paradigm, innovative thinking will be considered too risky for the average company.  My director here at the Hub, Paula Gutierrez, raised a good point as we were wrapping up our session; the Hub atmosphere is a space for open innovation, imagination and idea creation, “How can we make this space visible to the public?”  How can we get the community engaged in this open thinking to make real and lasting changes?