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Latin American entrepreneurs graduate from the third edition of the ECLA programme

Boston, 24 February 2015. “Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness in Latin America” (ECLA) is a programme offered by Columbia Business School, with support from the Bank through Santander Universities, that targets Latin American entrepreneurs with midsize companies interested in specialized training to compete in the current global climate.

After thirteen months of training, 32 entrepreneurs from 15 companies in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, United States, Mexico, Paraguay and Uruguay, have graduated from the third edition of the ECLA programme. Courses began in January 2014 with a 2-week classroom module at Columbia Business School, designed to explore key business-related tasks. Since that time, participants have combined classes, distance learning, international immersion, and training to develop a project, in order to acquire the skills necessary to implement and spearhead change within their organizations and prepare for success abroad.

“When you go to ECLA you have a clear idea of what you want for your business. The objective is to make it grow,” says Mexican business owner Javier Arredondo, head of Editorial Mapas and graduate of ECLA in 2013. To achieve this, ECLA is divided into two phases: “Improving Efficiency” and “Business Growth Planning,” designed to immediately put theory into practice. All participating companies are required to complete a project corresponding to each phase: with the help of a mentor, students identify a topic, develop and implement a solution, and share the results with the rest of the class.

The objectives are:

  • To provide participants with the basics, tools, and sources that enable the growth and international expansion of their companies.
  • To develop the macroeconomic and global skills of the participants so they can capitalise on opportunities and recognise the inherent challenges of entering new markets.  
  • To expose participants to a culture of business and entrepreneurship in a country outside of Latin America. In this edition, students travelled to Israel.  
  • To train participants to develop and implement a project to improve their companies, with measurable results. 
  • To unite theory and practice through discussions, guest speakers… and the diversity and exchange of experiences inherent to learning in an academic environment.
  • To establish a network among Latin American entrepreneurs, scholars, and leaders in the business field.

In her commencement speech, Josephine Moran, regional manager at Santander US, said: “I encourage you to put into practice all of the new knowledge acquired here. From the conferences you’ve attended to the cultural tours of Israel and South America, harness the power of these experiences to lead a changing world. Use what you’ve learned to keep facing new challenges.”

The ECLA training programme focuses on business efficiency, improvement, planned growth, and internationalisation. The participants complete six modules in thirteen months, combining classes, distance learning, international immersion, and training to develop a project. Participants also completed two programmes to develop their skills and learn how to make use of various tools and perspectives: a Process Improvement Project that addresses the creativity, implementation, and assessment of action strategies to improve the company, and a Business Growth Plan that explores the steps to international expansion.

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"Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness in Latin America" (ECLA)

The 32 entrepreneurs, with university faculty and guests.

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