La Idea Incubator Project

Funded and initiated by the United States Department of State, the La Idea Incubator Project is a powerful initiative focused on strengthening entrepreneurship and job creation across the Western Hemisphere. La Idea especially encourages trade and commerce between Central America and the United States. The program is a collaboration between InBIA and the Regional Center for the Promotion of MSMEs (CENPROMYPE).

 

 

Funded by:

United States Department of State

In partnership with:

Program objective: Develop and Support
Promising Central American Entrepreneurs

The La Idea Incubator Project provides a framework that allows entrepreneurs in Central America to directly connect with US-based InBIA Soft Landings designees. These designees provide advanced incubation services to guide their entrepreneurs’ businesses towards revenue generation, investment successes, and capital-efficient operations. InBIA’s Soft Landings designees have been validated through rigorous application and peer-review processes to ultimately serve foreign companies interested in expanding out of their domestic markets. The Soft Landing sites selected for La Idea have been found as ideal, industry-specific matches for those Central American entrepreneur applicants to the program, interested in expanding their business into the United States.  

The key objectives of the La Idea Incubator Project are two-fold:

  • To provide entrepreneurs from Central American countries with access to advanced incubation services in the United States, resulting in investment opportunities, customer interactions, mentorship from subject matter experts, and additional guidance for successful business launches.
  • To establish a network of quality entrepreneurship centers across the Western Hemisphere that can support La Idea participants upon their return from the United States, so the above activities are further enabled up to twelve months after their return home.

Join us for an informational webinar

La Idea Incubator Project Informational Webinar

The La Idea Incubator Project is seeking business to business or business to consumer small companies from throughout Central America who are providing a variety of services to their clients. Eligible companies should be developing products and/or services in one of the available cohorts (see below for additional details of current and upcoming cohorts).

We will be covering benefits of the program, eligibility requirements, how to apply, and through a series of webinars.

 

Please check back often for an updated schedule of upcoming webinars.  We will be hosting webinars pertaining to the entrepreneur and Soft Landing open RFP’s.

Click below to view our previous webinar describing the La Idea Incubator Project.

 

Catapulting high-potential Central American entrepreneurs

The La Idea Incubator Project provides Central American entrepreneurs with a suite of resources to conduct business or launch a subsidiary of their business in the US. At the heart of this initiative is an intensive boot camp for entrepreneurs, immersing participants in unprecedented networking opportunities and a curriculum that will help them succeed with their launch. This bootcamp will consist of a virtual program lasting up to 12 months and include a 3-day in person immersion program at a Soft Landing site in the United States.  During this program participants will receive mentorship, guidance, and additional opportunities from their host Soft Landing site and other resources . InBIA will host ten (10) cohorts, of a maximum 10 entrepreneurs each.  RFP’s are currently open for both entrepreneurs and soft landing sites for the following cohorts:

Health/Medical Technology and Services

Includes small business that develop or sell medicines, medical and/or surgical devices, medical grade equipment and supplies, as well as those that provide services within the organizations to which such care is provided.  (Cohort launches in  2021)

Retail and Exports

Includes small business involved in the sale of goods and services directly to final consumers; as well as those that are exporting goods or services. (Cohort launches in 2021)

Tourism & Culture

Includes small businesses involved in the sale of goods and services focused on a local/regional tourism market with export potential or goods and services that emphasize the local culture. (Cohort launches in 2021)

Textiles

Includes small business dedicated to the production of fibers (natural and synthetic), fabrics, yarns and other products related to clothing. (Cohort launches in 2021)


What participating entrepreneurs can expect

A baseline virtual training curriculum will kick-off that bootcamp that covers topics related to conducting business in the United States including:

Expanding Small/Early-Growth Businesses Intro the US Markets – Is My Business Ready?

  • cultural nuances,
  • common business entities
  • tax and liability issues,
  • support programs and funding,
  • establishing pricing, and

Expanding Small/Early-Growth Businesses Intro the US Markets – Is My Business Ready?

  • cultural nuances,
  • common business entities
  • tax and liability issues,
  • support programs and funding,
  • establishing pricing, and

After this “Conducting Business in the US” virtual content, the Soft Landing sites will provide individualized curriculum around the industry sector themes their programming thrives in. This will consist of monthly virtual meetings, workshops or networking opportunities leading up to the 3-day immersion program.  During the in-person immersion program in the United States participants of La Idea will have exclusive access to a mix of industry-specific lecture-style and workshop-style curriculum, as well as exciting visits to specialized facilities where they will network with a variety of experts across each industry’s supply chain.

Sample topics/offerings include but will not be limited to:

Health/Medical Technology and Services Potential Topics:

  • Medical regulations in the U.S.
  • Overview of the health industry and opportunities
  • IP protection

Retail and Exports Potential Topics:

  • Invoicing/financial management
  • Inventory and logistics management
  •  Identifying new product opportunities

Tourism & Culture Potential Topics:

  • Understanding the US tourism market
  • Trends in the US tourism market
  • Supply chain management

Textiles Potential Topics:

  • Textile production standards
  • Import/export considerations

Request for Proposals (RFP) for
Central American Entrepreneurs

If you are an entrepreneur residing in the Central American countries of Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama who is developing innovative solutions in the tourism and culture, retail and sales, health/medical technology, or textile industries, the U.S. Department of State and its partners, encourages you to apply to the La Idea Incubator Project. La Idea Incubator recipients will have the unprecedented opportunity to connect with peer innovators, create lasting relationships with entrepreneurship centers in the US, learn to navigate the complexities of international trade, and explore best practices in sales and operations. Upon selection for La Idea, you will be sent an invitation letter to support your Visa application, should you not have one at the time of applying. Due to any rejected Visa applicants/other issues, La Idea project staff have the right to select alternate applicants to attend the boot camps.

While it is not mandatory to apply, applicants who already have an active Visa (needed for the 3-day immersion program which takes place towards the end of the program) will have expedited application for the project. (Please see full selection criteria instructions and expectations of participants to the right).

Applications are currently open and all submissions are due by January 22, 2021.

Interested entrepreneurs can apply here: https://inbia.submittable.com/submit/128042/la-idea-incubator-project-entrepreneur-application

Apply Here

Selected participants will be notified by email if they have been accepted as a finalist. This process may take several weeks, but will enable them with enough time to complete and fulfill necessary Visa and/or passport processing prior to attending their relevant boot camp in the US.


Why should you apply?

Benefits to Central American entrepreneurs:

Up to 100 participants (up to 10 per cohort) will each receive a stipend to cover travel to the United States to participate in the La Idea Incubator Project. Each  boot camp, will be hosted by the La Idea program and  a US-based InBIA Soft Landings Incubator Designee that specializes in the identified industry and offers unprecedented customer networking opportunities, mentors who are subject matter experts, useful market trend analyses, and additional relevant resources. Additionally, after completing the boot camp, they will be provided with more mentoring (especially provided from their local/nation’s CENPROMYPE entrepreneur-serving partner) and other follow-up resources.

While La Idea Soft Landing Sites will provide breakfast, lunch, transportation to/from their sites and other program elements to your hotel, and coursework supplies, a travel stipend for participants will be provided that covers:

  • Airfare
  • Lodging
  • Per diem (for dinner/snacks)

Participants will have access to the following resources during and after the boot camp:

  • Virtual training from industry experts and legal counsel in general topics of conducting business in the US such as incorporation of subsidiaries, import/export regulations, immigration laws, taxation, US business cultures, federal and other resources to non-US businesses, etc. (translation services will be available at all times)
  • A customized virtual agenda, consisting of at least monthly virtual sessions preparing each participant to take advantage of business opportunities
  • An in-person immersion program consisting of three days of extensive, industry-themed curriculum that includes lectures, workshops, and tours of specialized facilities relevant to each cohort (translation services will be available at all times)
  • Access to live mentoring on business as well as industry-specific matters during and post-boot camp, including assigned mentors from your nation after you return from the boot camp
  • Access to virtual business mentors through CENPROMYPE/InBIA partners around the world
  • Networking opportunities both live and virtual throughout the entire program with potential customers, investors, and other strategic partners
  • An opportunity to try out the facilities/resources of a potential Soft Landing facility for US expansion in the future

Showcasing InBIA’s Soft Landing Designees

Incubators, SBDCs or other entrepreneurial support organizations (ESOs) with brick and mortar facilities are invited to host a cohort of up to 10 Central American entrepreneurs for a five-day training boot camp. ESOs that have earned InBIA’s Soft Landings designation and that can demonstrate domain expertise in one or more of the following focus industries are sought:

Tourism and Culture (planned cohort timeframe: 2021)

  • Includes small businesses involved in the sale of goods and services focused on a local/regional tourism market with export potential or goods and services that emphasize the local culture.

Retail and Sales (planned cohort timeframe: 2021)

  • Includes small business involved in the sale of goods and services directly to final consumers; as well as those that are exporting goods or services.

Health/Medical Technology (planned cohort timeframe: 2021)

  • Includes small business that develop or sell medicines, medical and/or surgical devices, as well as those that provide services within the organizations to which such care is provided.

Textiles (planned cohort timeframe: 2021)

  • Includes small business dedicated to the production of fibers (natural and synthetic), fabrics, yarns and other products related to clothing.

Please note: Prospective ESOs must have access to a proficient Spanish translation services available for the dates of the boot camp to apply for this grant.


Incentives for Applying to host a La Idea Incubator Soft Landings cohort

Each participating La Idea Incubator Soft Landings recipient will receive up to $15,000 in funding to cover costs associated with hosting the Central American entrepreneurs. 

Interested in being a host Soft Landing site for the La Idea Incubator Project? 

New applications for upcoming cohorts will open soon.

 

Additionally, La Idea Incubator Soft Landings recipients will have the exclusive opportunity to build relationships with high-potential Soft Landing clients – Founders/CEOs from throughout Latin America seeking to expand their business into the United States. These entrepreneurs, selected from a highly competitive vetting process, will ensure high quality participants are selected to participate in the La Idea Soft Landings cohorts. Selected participant entrepreneurs from Central America will be vetted on their product’s or service’s commercial viability, demonstrated tangible assets (IP, inventory, equipment, etc.), market opportunities for their products/services in US markets, strong management team, etc.

Train the Trainer Program

The Train the Trainer program, Forming Catalysts, seeks to develop business support skills through a virtual and face-to-face program in order to inspire, educate and prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs in Central America. The program offers the opportunity to boost entrepreneurship in the region through the empowerment of new generations of change agents.

A new generation of entrepreneurs stimulates and generates confidence in economies, helps address unemployment and fosters innovation in all industries and sectors. The leadership of new entrepreneurs becomes the inspiration for others, inspiring further entrepreneurship and creating meaningful societal impact.

The Forming Catalysts program will be carried out throughout 2020 and 2021 and consists of both virtual and face-to-face training, with four cohorts of 35 participants each:

  • Honduras – May to August 2020
  • El Salvador – June to September 2020
  • Guatemala – December 2020 to March 2021
  • Costa Rica – April to July 2021

Currently, applications for the Honduras (May – August 2020) and El Salvador (June – September 2020) cohorts are open.

MSME Care Centers (CAM), business development service providers, advisors and mentors of entrepreneurs from all Central American countries are eligible to participate in any cohort.

The content of the program will focus on:

  • Techniques that enable efficient facilitation and mentoring
  • Business skills development
  • Cultivate the business and innovation mentality

For more on eligibility and selection criteria, or to apply before March 27:

Click Here

If you have any questions about the La Idea Incubator Program, please contact [email protected]