By : CARIBBEAN BUSINESS ONLINE STAFF
Grupo Guayacán Inc. has been selected as one of the winners of this year’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, a U.S.-wide initiative from the Small Business Administration (SBA) that awards $50,000 prizes to organizations that provide support to help startups grow, become commercially viable, and achieve measurable and sustained economic impact.
The goal of the competition is to provide an infusion of capital to qualified accelerators, providing resources to boost the startup and entrepreneurship communities around them.
“The entrepreneurial ecosystem in America is incredibly exciting and very powerful,” said Javier Saade, associate administrator for the Office of Investment and Innovation. “[SBA] Administrator [Maria] Contreras-Sweet and I welcome this year’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition winners and the important and inclusive work they do in support of innovative and high-growth small businesses.”
The funding will allow Grupo Guayacán (GGI) to strengthen its startup offering by supporting EnterPRize, GGI’s Business Building Competition, which has operated uninterruptedly for the past 10 years. Throughout its history, EnterPRize has served more than 1,800 startup ventures, awarding over $800,000 in seed capital to more than 110 emerging entrepreneurs. With SBA’s support, GGI will continue developing EnterPRize by adding new courses to its entrepreneurial development curriculum, increasing mentoring opportunities for participants, and developing a brand-new demo day where finalists can pitch their ventures to a panel of early-stage investors.
Additionally, GGI will broaden its post-program support to participants by offering access to a wide network of professional service providers, continued development opportunities, mentoring and tracking of each team’s progress beyond the competition. EnterPRize will continue offering equity-free seed capital to winning teams through its regular prizes and a lineup of special awards, or tracks, serving businesses in particular areas such as agriculture, environmental innovations, social entrepreneurship, women entrepreneurs, and innovation-driven entrepreneurship. In addition to the SBA, EnterPRize is supported by a wide network of individual and corporate volunteers that serve as mentors and coaches for participating entrepreneurs.
“At Guayacán, we are incredibly excited and honored to be selected from a highly qualified pool of applicants as winners of the SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition. This partnership will allow us to increase our impact with emerging entrepreneurs through education, mentoring and access to capital. We are convinced that Puerto Rican entrepreneurs have the capacity to develop startups with global potential and the ability to achieve real economic impact. Through EnterPRize, we provide tools, resources and capital to accelerate their ventures and increase their chances of success,” said Laura Cantero, executive director of GGI.
Winners of the 2015 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition were announced Tuesday at the first-ever White House Demo Day, an event that brought together entrepreneurs from across the U.S. The purpose of the event was to highlight individual success stories that chronicle the individual journeys of entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds.
One of the presenters of the White House Demo Day was Ignacio Pino, the founder and president of CDI Laboratories, a Puerto Rican biotechnology company engaged in the development and commercialization of highly specific monoclonal antibodies. Ignacio was one of EnterPRize’s first winners, obtaining the competition’s grand prize in 2006. Since then, he has grown CDI Laboratories to more than 20 employees with offices in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico and Baltimore, Maryland. Recently, CDI Labs was selected as part of a research consortium – including the University of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust – funded by the National Institutes of Health to perform R&D for a potential HIV/AIDS vaccine.
“I feel extremely proud to represent the CDI team at the first White House Demo Day. This distinction validates the quality of our products and services. More importantly, it validates the effort all of us at CDI have put in to develop a Puerto Rican company with global quality. We hope that our participation in this event inspires other Puerto Ricans to take the leap and launch their own businesses,” Pino said.
The competition is part of the the SBA’s efforts to extend its reach, driving diverse, inclusive entrepreneurship across the U.S. Winners will become part of the overall resource partner network, reaching a constituency that is often overlooked for startup activity and that is outside areas traditionally associated with venture capital. The program is also focused on serving unique niches, including underserved communities and women entrepreneurs.
Startups interested in participating in EnterPRize 2015 must submit an online application which will be posted on www.guayacan.org on Oct. 10. Details about the competition will be provided in the coming weeks both on the website and on the Grupo Guayacán Facebook page: www.facebook.com/guayacanorg. For additional information, contact Keila López at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[button class=”” link=”http://www.caribbeanbusiness.pr/news/grupo-guayacan-among-winners-of-sba-growth-accelerator-fund-competition-114725.html” bgcolor=”” textcolor=”” bordercolor=”” target=”_self”]Article[/button]