On July 16, agro-industrial businessmen and young entrepreneurs met at the event: "Opportunities for Rural Youth Entrepreneurship and Financing for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)." Young entrepreneurs shared their experiences and the challenges that they have encountered during the process of forming their businesses, especially those in rural enterprises.
On the event, which was attended by more than 100 people, businessman and young entrepreneurs with business on different levels of growth exchanged their experiences, from how they started their business in a small room in the back of their houses and must learn how to read the needs of the market, to the need to find, mostly in the public sector, specialized technical accompaniment for the formation of companies in all sectors, especially in technology.
How to build a reputation when starting from zero?
The three members of the panel, at the request of the public, also shared their experiences and some strategies for the process of building a reputation and a portfolio of clients for their companies when they are starting from zero.
Pablo Villegas, cofounder of Frumit said: “Always look professional in your meetings, even when your company is starting. Have your website ready and business cards. First impressions are always very important to customers and a good impression gives them more confidence to purchase your products. Also ask them for an opportunity to do a pilot. You may offer them a lower price for your work, while they get to know you. This way you can build up a portfolio."
Cesar Cajiao, young producer of special coffee said: “I would like to say to the public and private sectors that we need more technology in the territories, know how to access it and how to use it. Now there are many technological tools that can help us to know how plants are growing and have better production. The problem is that we don’t know what they are or where to find it.”
At the end of the talk, 20 entrepreneurs of the project, exhibited their products and services and connected with key players for their markets in the gastronomic and hotel sector. “This type of event is very important to showcase our products. For the production of these samplings, we used the machine that we designed and were able to build thanks to the project. The machine allows us to remove the branches of 5 kg of grapes in five minutes. Before the same activity took us one hour”, said Jael Sánchez, cofounder of Biovid.
Some of the ventures presented were related to whole fruit juices, agro-ecological fruits and vegetables, ornamental fish, software services and landscaping and garden design, among others. The section on access to financing for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) was presented by El Lab, one of Truvalu’s enterprise partners in Colombia.
This event was carried out within the framework of the project “Opportunities for young men and women in rural areas in Colombia: contributions to peace-building” (Rural Youth), in which more than 1.000 young people have participated, and which aims to strengthen capacities for scaling up economic initiatives, ventures and business ideas of young men and women in the rural areas.
This project is financed by the European Union and Kerk In Actie and implemented by ICCO together with Mencoldes Foundation and the Corporación VallenPaz in Valle del Cauca and Chocó.