A New Beginning for Peru
Jonathan Ortmans, President, Public Forum Institute
Now that Peru has inaugurated a new government, the verdict is out on how the Ollanta Humala administration treats entrepreneurs. When the new president presented the names of eight of his cabinet ministers for his presidential mandate which started July 28, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Peruvian entrepreneur Salomon Lerner would be among them. At the time, President Humala asked the Peruvian population to trust that the new Cabinet members were committed to the change the country now needs.
Among the changes needed is greater confidence in the free market economy. This lack of confidence has inspired programs, like, EmprendeAhora, designed by Instituto Invertir and CIPE. The program provides an alternative to the negative image of the private sector and entrepreneurship among youth, especially those from low-income families located in the countryside, who compose a great chunk of the population (23%). The Asociación Pro Bienestar y Desarrollo (Association for Welfare and Development), better known as PROBIDE, in turn was formed in 1998 as a nonprofit institution dedicated to promoting creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial culture of competitiveness, primarily in the Peruvian youth population. Since then it has partnered numerous times with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the most important private companies in Peru to run entrepreneurship programs.
Another challenge facing the administration is that schools teaching entrepreneurship are currently concentrated in Lima. For example, Universidad del Pacifico in Lima trains students selected through EmprendeAhora, while Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola (USIL) has a Center for Entrepreneurship. However, their reach is slowly extending. Universidad ESAN, another Lima-based school, hosted entrepreneurship educators throughout Peru and Latin America for last year’s REE Latin America meeting. Also, taking a more hands-on approach, INICTEL-UNI National University of Engineering runs a business incubator to help its mission of promoting ITC development and adoption throughout the country, with a special focus on rural areas.
The extension in outreach by these programs is important since entrepreneurial talent abounds in Peru. A significant number of young people have developed businesses linked to Peru’s geographical and natural strengths. Inka Moss, for example, is an agribusiness company dedicated to the production of white moss from the Andes for the international market. The Peruvian white moss grows naturally in highland areas, and is highly demanded internationally by orchid growers. Windaid is another example. It is a Peruvian producer of small wind power generators, which secured funding and mentoring from the country’s Business Angel Network.
Peru is known for having attracted significant foreign investment in recent years. Foreign companies are also investing in Peruvian creative talent. Cisco, for example, took the opportunity during Global Entrepreneurship Week 2010 to launch a Cisco Entrepreneur Institute in the country. Since then, through partners, like PROBIDE and INICTEL-UNI, it has been active in advancing entrepreneurship education with Peruvians.
Cisco Entrepreneur Institutes in other Latin American countries, namely Mexico, Chile and Colombia, have government support. The rich network of entrepreneur supporters in Peru and the complexity of their projects speak volumes regarding the enthusiasm to unleash entrepreneurial potential in the country. I hope the new government won’t hamper their efforts, but rather work to create a favorable business environment, for the betterment of the country.