15 Entrepreneurs from South Africa, Colombia, and Mexico selected at Cape Town

15 Entrepreneurs from South Africa, Colombia, and Mexico selected at Cape Town ISP

 November 19th, 2010 — Justin Belmont

Endeavor invited 15 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from South Africa, Colombia, and Mexico to join its network at its 37th International Selection Panel held in Cape Town, South Africa November 17-19. Endeavor now supports 555 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from 358 companies.
The newest Entrepreneurs were selected by top business leaders from the United States, Europe, and South Africa. In addition to the selection panel, on November 17th participants attended the 2nd annual Global Entrepreneurship Week summit “The State of Entrepreneurship in South Africa.”
This was Endeavor’s sixth selection panel in South Africa since establishing the office in 2004. Endeavor South Africa brought 11 candidates from six companies, out of which six Entrepreneurs were selected. The affiliate’s increased search and selection capabilities, particularly among entrepreneurs from previously disadvantaged groups, have been supported in part by a grant from the Citi Foundation. Citi has also provided support for 2010/2011 Endeavor search and selection activities in Egypt and Turkey. Learn more about the Search & Selection process here.
The companies/Entrepreneurs selected are:
Campoalto (Colombia)
Entrepreneurs: Andrés Angulo, Alvaro Hoffmann, Hugo Fernando Novoa
Campoalto is an education company that operates 16 career certification programs at five “campus” locations in Bogotá. Programs cover offerings in the Health Care sector and, more recently, Hotel Management and Food Services.
Cibecs (South Africa)
Entrepreneur: Richard Dewing
Founded in 2004, Cibecs provides enterprise-wide, centrally managed, automated and secure data protection and recovery services for desktops and notebooks. Its product, Cibecs Continuity, allows clients to easily and quickly recover lost data, reducing infrastructure utilization and optimizing bandwidth and storage usage.
Cinemagic (Mexico)
Entrepreneurs: Roberto Quintero Vega & José Irigoyen Palacios
Cinemagic builds and manages high-tech, modern movie complexes in regional Mexican cities with populations of 50,000-150,000.
Integr8 (South Africa)
Entrepreneurs: Lance Fanaroff and Rob Sussman
Integr8 IT is now the largest privately owned Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) Company on the African continent. It currently supports and regulates the ICT environment of many of South Africa’s leading organizations including Microsoft South Africa, Ernst & Young and Nedbank.
Masana (South Africa)
Entrepreneur: Cynthia Mkhombo
Masana Hygiene Services provides office cleaning programs for clients in a full range of corporate, retail and commercial sectors. In six years, Masana has grown from 7 to over 750 employees, the majority of whom are women.
Neve Gelato (Mexico)
Entrepreneur: Francisco Xavier Briseno Sanchez
Founded in 1999 as Mexico’s first Italian-style ice cream chain, Neve Gelato has built its brand name and retail presence in Mexico City, currently operating 26 shops, and has plans for major expansion throughout the country.
Pabisan (Mexico)
Entrepreneur: Enrique Antonio Ramon Eisenring
Puebla-based Pabisan produces specialty bakery products such as low-sugar and gluten-free bread. Its business lines now span several markets to include a high-end retail bakery franchise, wholesale production for leading domestic supermarkets and exports to American supermarkets.
PagosOnline (Colombia)
Entrepreneurs: Jose Fernando Velez and Martin Schrimpff
PagosOnline has become a domestic industry leader, capturing 80% of the transactions of the Colombian e-commerce market. The company specializes in integrating local forms of payment—such as cash or bank transfers—into their online payment platform.
SYNAQ (South Africa)
Entrepreneurs: Yossi Hasson and David Jacobson.
SYNAQ offers email and internet security products based on the Linux open-source software to both large enterprise and SME clients.


Do you believe that a venture needs to be non-for-profit in order to make a high positive impact in the world? Or it is this irrelevant?

If on FACEBOOK, feel free to join a recently opened forum discussion by a good friend. The following was my answer to his question: "Do you believe that a venture needs to be non-for-profit in order to make a high positive impact in the world? Or it is this irrelevant?"

Follow the debate here: http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=173967849295484&topic=307


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Rainy season Entrepreneurs ...(subsistence entrepreneurship rules!!!)

It is really a pity that I did not bring on Friday a camera with me - it would have been nice to show you evidence of the "rainy season Entrepreneurs" I saw! Sometimes it can be really entertaining to go out in Colombian cities when it rains ...

So, here is the ranking of called my attention today ...

# 3 - The guy selling umbrellas: Now , this is a classical one. Yet, it never stops surprising me how much these guys take advantage of the "poor" (or dumb?) people - me being at times one of them - that inspite of knowing that it`s raining every day, do not carry an umbrella with them.

I was at a corner today waiting for a cab and in less than 5 minutes, I swear, I saw a guy selling at least 5 umbrellas, and what`s most relevant, at 5-8 USD each ... when for the quality of those they should not cost more than 2 USD. Yet, when it`s pouring, you pay whatever it takes to have even a crappy umbrella, which is highly likely that you pile up and forget at home ... giving the chance  to these "entrepreneurs" to sell you again and again...  I prohibited myself recently to keep buying umbrellas! I showered completely last time but that was the only way to get the discipline of carrying one . Also, something cool that those sellers do, is that they walk into the lobbies of the buildings (where people are crowded together "waiting for the rain to stop" - but at the same time suffering because they are really in a super hurry) and offer the goods. I was in this situation once, and out of like 20 people, around 10 bought one. Common sense actions that boost revenues ...

# 2 -  The "improvised" plastic cealing: As some of you might know in Bogotá there are lots of street sellers, which mainly offer stuff like candies, fast food and take away beverages. Below you can see how it more and less looks like.

The # 2 position goes to a guy that literally put an improvised huge cealing of plastic (I guess of around 10 Sq Mts of roof made out of plastic bags) right in front of its mini-shop. Of course when it starts raining lots of people just land there, wet and panting, but relieved to find at least 1/2 Sq mt where each one can stand. Of course the seller starts offering warm coffee, aromatica (herbal infusion) and other types of snacks, which wanting it or not you just buy. If you do not buy, people below the plastic ceiling ask you to leave!!! - and give you place to someone that is willing to "consume". I was passing by with my umbrella and also felt like having an  aromatica. I did not stand under the improvised roof, but yet I started talking to the guy and asked him about his "patic bags ceiling". He said it was his salvation, he could sell in 1 hour rain what sometimes he was not able to sell in  a whole morning on a wet day.

# 3 -  The "arroyo" mini bridge: This one I did not see in Bogotá, yet it is very common in Barranquilla, my home city. For some geographical condition issue, plus a lack of suitable sewer system/drains, Barranquilla is a city that has lost of arroyos.

The best way to know what an "arroyo" is, is probably just taking a look at one of them. It`s like a river on a street ...

"Arroyos" can be quite dangerous. One tends to speak about them almost like a touristic attraction at times, yet the topic is not even funny. Not only because it exposes every year the lack of infrastructure of the city and how over decades the problem has not been solved, but also because every year during the rainy season (imprudent) people get injured and sadly some of them have died, trying to face "arroyos". Barranquilla is (so far) the only city I know where you actually find a formal signal warning for "arroyos".

Coming back to my story, the # 1 endeavor I want to portrait is the one of the guys that in Barranquilla improvise a "bridge" made out of random planks/boards of wood. They put these planks from one side of the road to the other, allowing you to cross the street despite the massive arroyos.  Some of them also "offer" to walk with you over the plank with an umbrella, if you do not have one.  I remember when I used to use this "service" in Barranquilla, that I always asked the guys to go with me, since I found it a bit scary. The "right" to pass, costs you "whatever you want to give them" (which in local understanding could be up until 0,5 USD ... but make sure you give something, otherwise they get really pissed off. This one for me is the winner ... "arroyos" keep flowing up several hours  after the rain is gone... these guys can easily, out of nothing, make a living those days just by putting a wooden plank on a street... and well, even if it was not that common, I managed to also see some guys that instead of wooden boards, used big stones... but the demand for these ones was way lower ... of course ...

Anyways, I know I am ignoring lots of crazy subsistence endeavors that take place when it rains. For us, Colombians, rain is not part of our agendas ... we dislike it completely ... it`s the perfect excuse to not go out,  to feel "sad", to feel "cold" - we are sunny people. Yet, as can see, for a good % of people, rain is subsistence. 

Have you any other "rain" entrepreneurial story to share?


From "subsistence entrepreneurship" to "opportunity/high impact entrepreneurship"

Hi all,

I went a week ago to the annual conference of one of our Endeavor Colombia Companies: Servinformacion - one of the companies I directly serve! Servinformacion is in the business of  GIS

I had the pleasure to be on an amazing session that  closed me up into the "world" of the "tiendas"

The format of "tienda" is so far known by me from my home country Colombia and partly, from other few Latin American countries.  A "tienda" is a shop, a very small one, "messy" one, driven by an entrepreneur that without much technique and academic formation (yet, very savvy) sells a wide array of categories of food and beverages (mainly) for consumers. 

The historical boom of "Tiendas" in Colombia is not about them selling "cheap" - being such a "humble" format one might think that this is the driver of their success, but it is not -  they are certainly NOT cheap. The format is simply a natural response to a market reality: in Colombia 6 out of 10 people earn/are paid daily. Yes, every day they manage to earn something (formally or informally) and every day they buy their food for the next day and somehow manage to save/reserve a piece of the daily money for their other expenses. Who will go then with 5 (or way less) USD to a supermarket, where just taking a bus will probably cost you 1 USD? Almost nobody ... so people go to their "tienda" and buy, close to home, whatever they need.

Now, the essence of my post is not about the "tiendas" - although I love marketing I am certainly not a guru in the "tienda phenomenon". The essence of my post is about how the "tiendas" are evolving from a "subsistence venture" to a higher impact venture.

On the conference it was said that one of the main reasons (if not the main) for the format to evolve into a more professional, structured and customer-friendly one, was the fact the the children of "tenderos" (the owners of the tiendas) did not want to become "tenderos". Even if through the "tienda" business their parents were able to raise them and give them in many cases even university education, they expected an "upgraded" version of the business.

So, these children that, as said, had the chance to access to education started to become the new generation of "Tienda" Entrepreneurs, evolving the "Tienda" format into the "Superette" format. A "Superette" is the upgraded version of the "Tienda", which as first sight might just look as a "small" supermarket (a mini-market) but yet conserving the convenience (location-wise) of the "Tienda".

There are additional other reasons why the new format also worked quite well for a "Tienda" family. The first one is related to security. An old format "Tienda" offered way less security for owners in terms of robbery from customers, but also from burglars. In the new format given its structure they can have professional watchmen and other complementary systems (cameras, sensors, etc.) that can help them be more aware. The second reason why the new format also worked quite well is related to "quality of life" of the entrepreneur. It`s been always said that for the business to work, a "Tendero" had to be present at the shop  24/7.  It is clear that (for a "Tienda" or for any other business) an Entrepreneur has to be immerse in the business - this leading role should not be eliminated. However, with the new format more systems and competent people have the potential to be considered, so that the "Tendero" does not have to be there to do every delivery and count every penny.  

The typical "TIENDA"

The "Superette"

How can`t we talk about the format evolving into a higher impact venture when ...

1. As per a survey realized last year 77 % of the "Tiendas" were attended by only 1 person, and now with the "Superettes" way more people (qualified and not) are required?

2.  As per a survey realized last year 62 % of the "Tiendas" sold less than 100 USD a day and now with the "Superettes" given the attractive format and a wider set of products way more than that is sold?

I know this analysis is still very superficial, yet the discovery is fascinating. In the past, always when we wanted to give an example of a subsistence entrepreneur, we couldn`t find a better one than the "Tendero". Now we can see the even such a business has the potential to develop high impact characteristics and re-invent its nature, adding way more value to the  customers and also to the value chain surrounding the business. To me that`s amazing. 

When was the last time you want to a "Tienda"? Do you actually go to one? What have you seen? 


The Influence Project


We started with a simple question: Who are the most influential people online right now?
That's what The Influence Project is designed to answer. By participating, you will have your picture appear in the November issue of Fast Company magazine as part of an amazing photo spread. The more influence you demonstrate, the bigger your picture will be.

You may discover that you're more influential than you think.

Influence is not only about having the most friends or followers. Real influence is about being able to affect the behavior of those you interact with, to get others in your social network to act on a suggestion or recommendation. When you post a link or recommend a site, how many people actually bother to check it out? And what’s the likelihood of those people then forwarding it on? How far does your influence spread?

This is the type of influence we’re looking for. We want to find the most influential person online. 

Who knows? It might even be you.

This is my "page" as a sample.

Clearly, the aim is not to win this, but might be worth YOU entrepreneurs join and see what happens!!


We do not have to choose between inspired employees and sizable profits - in fact inspired employees help make sizable profits.

To watch the video, go to:

Back in October 2008 I had the chance to see Chip Conley in San Francisco, during an Endeavor Tour to Sillicon Valley. The hotel where we were staying in a city in Sillicon Valley (I guess it was in Sunnyvale (CA), I do not even remember!) was one of the Joie de Vivre hotels (http://www.jdvhotels.com/). He was a key note speaker in our agenda and I loved it. What a nice surprise to find him as a TED speaker.

In the video (please watch it!) Chip talks about the paradigms of results/impact measurement on the modern world and contrasts this to a whole new model (pioneered by countries like Bhutan, for instance) to measure what counts, in life, in business.

Some key quotes I loved from the video were:

1. GDP measures everything in short ... EXCEPT "that" what makes like worthwhile
2. We do not have to choose between inspired employees and sizable profits - in fact inspired employees help make sizable profits.

You should watch the video, it shares interesting perspectives from different angles...
It`s a bit sad to recognize that the majority of the Entrepreneurs I come across are rather part of the traditional school, they still think face the dilemma of "inspired employees Vs. sizable profits" and -as Chip says- do not recognize their role as creators of a habitat of hapiness for their stakeholders. Some Entrepreneurs are even a bit embarrased of talking about it, fearing that people might character tem as "fluffly" or "unfocused" - and this is also a critique for organizations that support entrepreneurs: such innovative thinking about the way you perceive and create your own sucess as entrepreneur might be undervalued!

Do you know any amazing case to share about Entrepreneurs, as Chip, that have a particular model/way to create hapiness and/or measure what counts for them?


Overdose of optimism, the entrepreneurs` most typical excess?

Today I was reading an article that was written by Michael Skapinke on the Financial Times called  "Entrepreneurs need to know when to let go". You can read it if you feel like here.

On the article, there was a phrase that particularly called  my attention: "Scepticism is the journalist's default position, just as optimism is the entrepreneur's". 

Only few people would disagree with the fact that these "let`s be positive that it`s gonna work - attitude" that Entrepreneurs share plays a key role. It`s on the Entrepreneur`s DNA to hope for the best (no matter which risk level they are handling), and they do so because they trust the power of their own ideas and performance. And it`s great. Self-confidence is one of the most powerful characteristics that one can have to reach extraordinary things. 

However "right" and admirable the former can sound, there are limits. Indeed there must be limits ... the biggest challenge is to be aware of them. Out of my personal experience supporting Entrepreneurs as also trying to be one since we opened our restaurant with a couple of other partners, few situations where Entrepreneurs might suffer from "overdose of optimism" are:

- Not letting go a business that market has shown not to be profitable and still trying to artificially keep it alive though capital investment. If you do not change the strategy (management, plan, leader) to make it work, a business won`t get back on track by just being positive that a bit more of time is needed.

- Not letting go a worker/employee that shows some potential, but that has not been able to exploit it. "I think he/she will improve" - Second chances to underperformers are most typical than what we believe. Unfortunately (and fortunately) Entrepreneurs tend to think with the heart when it comes to managing employees, specially if these employees are those who happened to be around when you started your business. There is a hidden feeling of gratitude involved. 

Coming back to the phrase that inspired me to write this post ("scepticism is the journalist's default position, just as optimism is the entrepreneur's"), I feel like modifying it a bit to tap better into the entrepreneurial arena: "Scepticism is the manager`s default position, just as optimism is the entrepreneur's". When Entrepreneurs accept their overdose of optimism and realize that it can threaten their business, normally they call managers, creating a healthy balance. If Entrepreneurs are not there to hope for the best, innovation and "out of the box thinking" couldn`t probably flourish.

I think the biggest conclusions of this reflexion is that:

1. It would be a mistake to pretend to remove the natural optimism that Entrepreneurs have, it`s like going against their essence
2. Entrepreneurs need however to be aware when optimism blinds them and affects the soundness of the decisions they make
3. It`s important to look for a "counterweight" once one is aware that optimism is hindering growth: involving an objective manager or investor or advisor could be a way to go.

Meanwhile "WORKING FOR THE BEST WHILE HOPING FOR THE BEST" might sound like a healthy balance.


Was Jesus an Entrepreneur?

Was he one? What do you think?

I love the discussion that is going on as a response to the publication on the GAPINGVOID site. Some comments i liked were:

"Interesting that you make that conclusion. I tend to think of the man more as a teacher.What financial risks did he take? What profit/loss did he incur in a business deal?"
"Isn’t that what a lot of social entrepreneurs are Joann? They teach their clients to do their product better…"
"I agree. Jesus was an entrepreneur. But that does not mean that everyone calling him/herself an entrepreneur is as enlightened as Jesus was."
Funny, nice.
Feel free to join the discussion here or at Hugh´s site. 


Seeds of Entrepreneurs

4th Grade, Colegio Heladia Mejia, Bogota

Last week I finnished my tutoring classes to the 4th Grade of the public Bogota School Heladia Mejia. I volunteer at public schools since a couple of year thanks to the amazing program of JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT COLOMBIA (Colombia Emprendedora).

This class has been by far one of my favourites of the past years!

They were so smart! I bet money that from this group at leat 5 or 6 students can become sucessful entrepreneurs when they grow up. I was really suprised during our last class, where we developed few advanced -decision making process case studies- with the level of thought process stduents put into it. Never underestimate the power of child`s mind!


Women in charge - 4 types of female Entrepreneurs

Recently, rehearsing for the GMAT (yes! I will present it for the 3rd time! Outstanding, isn`t it) I came across with a reading comprehension passage that explained a study of two researchers and authors called Robert Goffee and Richard Scase. I never heard of them before (have you?), but one of their studies on female entrepreneurship called so much my attention, that I couldn`t help googling as much as I could about them and their work.

There are few ideas resulting of their research that called tremendously my attention. Why? It is not that their “discoveries” appeared surprising to me, one could have also concluded them by looking around with a bit of detail, but still - the concreteness of the way they presented their conclusions in such a structured manner, putting empirical assumptions I personally have always had into formal papers, is what made me really like their work. Well, let`s go to the point, what is Goffee & Scase`s work all about?

1- First, they concluded that women become entrepreneurs as a means to overcome not only unfair, discriminatory selection criteria (such as age, previous experience, and of course, gender), but also as a means to overcome subordination. Simple: If I start my own business, nobody will judge my capacity to run it and I will be my own boss!

2- Goffee & Scase classify women Entrepreneurs into 4 main types.

a. The first type is called “INNOVATIVE ENTREPRENEURS”, these are women that mainly started a business to challenge conventional assumptions about the social position of women. They want to prove through their own (success) case that work or professional development is more important than conventional female roles. These Entrepreneurs want to fulfill professional ambitions in their own companies that previous roles as employees did not allow them to.

b. The second type of Women Entrepreneurs is called “RADICALS-PROPIETORS”. These girls are active in economic and political ventures that strongly promote female issues. They do not care as much for profit-making (without saying that their business are not profitable) as “INNOVATIVE ENTREPRENEURS”, their motivation is to advocate for the long term development of women interests.

c. The third category is called “CONVENTIONALS”. These women, who are also not attached to traditional female roles, differ from “INNOVATIVE ENTREPRENEURS” in the fact that they do not necessarily present resentment about limited career opportunities in previous jobs. In fact, they might have exercised secondary jobs in the past and they might have changed from job several times. To me (Oriana) this is the category that I understood the less, I mean, for me “CONVENTIONALS” are “INNOVATIVE ENTREPRENEURS without resentment” who had less job stability in the past.

d. The final type is called “DOMESTICS”. These women, even if self-employed and entrepreneurs, see their businesses as secondary to their roles as mothers and wives, for instance. Having their own company offers opportunities for self-fulfillment and autonomy, however subordinated to their personal obligations.

I am a freak of classifications, that`s maybe one of the reasons why I loved Goffee & Scase conclusions. All types are fascinating on their own, and I know real women in my close circle of influence that fall into each of those categories. I think I personally am a “CONVENTIONAL” with some influence of RADICALS-PROPIETOR”. “DOMESTICS” are not bad at all, in the end, work-life balance is not only important, but sustainable.

So, what type are you? Do you know an impressive role model that fall into one of these four types?


Entrepreneurs - who do you want to look like when you grow up? Private Vs Public Sector realities

Yesterday I had the chance to participate in one of the regular breakfasts that the
FUNDACION MUJERES POR COLOMBIA (Women for Colombia Foundation) organizes. For each breakfast, they invite a certain woman, whose life story, career, acomplishments or simply vision, is assumed as worth telling to other fellow colombian women.

Yesterday, the host of the breakfast was María Isabel Nieto and the talk promised to be about her career change from the public to the private sector ... María Isabel had been a politician since she started her professional career, holding several positions in different regional and national terms, being one of the last ones, Vice Minister of Interior. Since 6 months or so, she`s the Director of Government & Industry Issues of Bavaria-SAB Miller in Colombia.

Some interesting quotes I could rescue from the talk (from the host as from the assistants), regarding the differences between the public & private sector, were:

“In the private sector if you are (a) good (professional), you are indentified, nurtured and developed into a leader… if you are (a) bad (one), you are fired. Show me performance! That`s not the case in the public sector. The public sector has employees by profession. Meritocracy still seems to have a long way to go”

“The word accountability doesn´t seem to exist in the public sector. In the public sector at times the person takes priority over the function”

“In the private sector you earn better”

“In the private sector you have access to top class sources of information to support the decision making process (name it Mc Kinsey or the world guru in certain topic), in the public one, Google and your own criteria (whichever it is) is your best support”

“To make/pass a law, doesn´t mean that you change a reality. In the public sector the game is about being (or seeming?) different … every politician wants to propose a different way to do something. In the private sector “continuity is king”. You achieve when you execute and finnish, not when you propose and start.”

Some of the previous comments might be farfetched and certainly there must be amazing professionals working in the public sector trying to make a change in Colombia … but still there is a high amount of truth. Sad, very sad news.

From a Talent Development perspective another issue discussed was the fact that the first bosses that a junior professional has, tend to mark (for good of bad) the kind of professional this person becomes. I personally agree with that. 100 % indeed. Few young professionals that were at the talk, reinforced this, telling how uninspiring it was to, instead of seeing a good role model or a real coach, to see people that they could not understand how they made it to their position (and how have they actually stayed there!). Are we sending young professionals to the public sector to commit a professional suicide? Scary, very scary news.

It was a very entertaining breakfast. One point though I made in the end, was the fact that we were generalizing way too much when we talked about “private sector”. The perceived “best practices” named before, in my opinion reflected the reality of the big, consolidated, and especially multinational private companies. What about the entrepreneurs? What about the social sector? I can confidently say they are in a dangerous grey zone between seeming more public sector than private sector. And here is where I feel happy to work for Endeavor. Bottom-line, what we do is pulling entrepreneurs away from management mediocrity and making them think big, giving them tools that, if well executed, can bring them faster to the achievement of their goals, but more than that, to become a role role model for fellow entrepreneurs that are just starting its journey.

Finally, I want to make the disclaimer that this small reflection is not intending to affirm that our Colombian public sector (or any global public sector) is as previously described – I do not have evidence. But “perception is reality”, and if a vast majority of our people feels like this, there is already a reason to be concerned.