With our global gathering of entrepreneurial support professionals, the 33rd International Conference on Business Incubation (ICBI33), just around the corner, we wanted to highlight how many entrepreneurship centers are providing programming for foreign entrepreneurs who contribute to the overall success of the global economy. There will be several ICBI33 sessions and workshops in line with this theme, including Business Innovation Global (BIG) Summit, Community Partnering for Success in Foreign Direct Investment, Creating Soft Landings for Foreign Entrepreneurs, and more. To learn more about international entrepreneurship, we sat down with our in-house expert and InBIA Director of Programs, Jack Henkel, who discusses InBIA’s current programming that serves to connect global ecosystems and uplift diverse entrepreneurship centers.
Henkel recently traveled to Honduras to promote the launch of InBIA’s three La Idea cohorts, which seek to pair U.S. Soft Landing-designated entrepreneurship centers with their Central American peers to promote foreign economic development and small business growth. While there, he met with CENPROMYPE, the economic development organization that represents SBDCs across Central America, and the U.S. State Department.
“A lot of things that they were interested from their perspective was ‘Why is there interest from the U.S.—whether it’s the State Department or InBIA—in supporting and connecting with entrepreneurship in the country and Central America?’ You know, ‘What is the benefit there?’” said Henkel. “The goal of the program is to support entrepreneurs looking to enter the U.S. market or collaborate with the U.S. market. Generally, the stronger the region is, the stronger everybody is, but also since we have a lot of U.S. members, we’re connecting them with high-potential entrepreneurs they wouldn’t have otherwise met.”
There is a burgeoning need for more collaboration efforts in the digital economy, especially as entrepreneurs increasingly require training and infrastructure resources that bridge gaps of access and help scale their small businesses. CENPROMYPE is currently heading several initiatives in the region to create strategies that will do just that, as well as drive the interest towards entrepreneurship in areas of lower development. Henkel talks about room for improvement within programming for global entrepreneurship centers to create new opportunities for program participants and others.
“Something that we’re trying to work more into the cohorts is finding time to spend to talk to each other. Because there are a lot of collaboration opportunities amongst the participants…There are a lot of interesting connections with entrepreneurs supporting themselves and finding ways to collaborate,” said Henkel. “And that might end up driving some of the support from countries and from the local organizations, which we are seeing more and more. There’s a very big appetite for anything in Central America that can help the entrepreneurs move forward: training, coaching, and more. A lot of entrepreneurs are entering the U.S., so what is the best market for each.”
Henkel adds, “It’s not just about the ability for them to come to the U.S. for the [Soft Landing] sites, it’s also that they come away with the contacts and with best practices that they can take back that can help other people in the country, too.”
La Idea cohort participants have also been invited to attend the BIG Summit at ICBI33 to further promote cross-communication between entrepreneurship centers. To connect with your entrepreneurship center peers in the U.S. State Department’s exclusive Sister to Sister matchmaking program, click here to register now.