It’s been over month since I left Santiago, and despite the cold weather there, I miss it terribly. I was there as eMBA consultant through Endeavor Global and worked for Araucania Yarns, the largest yarn exporter in Chile. Araucania’s yarns are hand (not machine) dyed, made from the highest quality and variety of natural materials, and produced in a spectrum of beautiful and sophisticated colors, which only a few players in the global industry can match. Araucania is in fact, the only producer in Chile that can export in that scale.
The driving force behind the company is Michelle Boisier, Araucania’s Co-founder and CEO. I worked closely with her to develop a competitive analysis on the high-end yarn natural yarns market, and recommended pricing, distribution and marketing strategies. Working with Araucania allowed me to see up close and understand the opportunities and challenges faced by a small company operating in a niche market.
Shifting focus, I want to talk about Endeavor. Often viewed as a “non non-profit,” Endeavor supports high-growth entrepreneurs in emerging markets by giving them access to a network of seasoned entrepreneurs, local and international corporate executives and MBA students who together provide pro-bono consulting services. Endeavor selects entrepreneurs with a high potential to create impact: to generate revenues, profit and local jobs. All these help to foster an entrepreneurial culture and ultimately, contribute to the development of an economy— which to me, is incredibly social in nature.
On my last day, I presented my findings to Araucania’s advisory board, comprised of a caliber of professionals: a former CEO of Coca Cola Latin America, a veteran Endeavor entrepreneur, and an Araucania local adviser. We spent nearly three hours discussing the data and next steps for the company. Multiply those three hours by the three advisory board members (there are typically four I’m told) then by the 12 meetings in a year (at times they meet more than once a month). That adds up to over 100 hours of pro-bono time in a year for just one SME! To put things in greater perspective, Endeavor is present in 11 countries and has supported over 500 entrepreneurs.
After leaving Santiago, I continue to work with Michelle on the next stage of my project which focuses on expansion alternatives for her business. My time in Chile was incredible, to say the least. I met several Chilean entrepreneurs, a partner of a venture capital firm, and other eMBAs— all of whom share the same excitement I have for entrepreneurship and emerging markets.