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AQ Feature

Introducing AQ's Top 5 Young Entrepreneurs in Latin America

From Brazil to Colombia and beyond, the region is a hive of dynamic, creative businesspeople. More should be done to help them.
Jeff Fried

The world’s strongest entrepreneurial culture can be found in Latin America.

That may sound like an exaggeration, but it’s actually true. A whopping 89 percent of Latin American youths say they want to work for themselves, or start and grow a business, according to a global survey of 5,000 youths commissioned by the Citi Foundation. That handily beats Asia-Pacific (79 percent), Europe (79 percent) and Africa and the Middle East (74 percent) as well as the United States and Canada (64 percent), which came in last.

In this new issue of Americas Quarterly, we’d like to introduce you to the vanguard of this dynamic and creative culture: the top five young entrepreneurs in Latin America. They include a Brazilian and Colombian (both featured on our cover), as well as a Cuban, an Argentine and a Venezuelan.

We selected these five remarkable people based on their success in building businesses with a strong mission and bottom line, as well as their ability to overcome the obstacles of starting and maintaining a business in Latin America. Outdated education systems and other barriers – such as gender discrimination, crime and poor quality of life in large cities – often prevent the region’s aspiring entrepreneurs from realizing their full potential. These five stories, taken together, provide a kind of road map to how those barriers can be overcome – and a to-do list for governments.

Indeed, as the cover of this issue states, we believe creating and nurturing young entrepreneurs is “The Solution” for countries trying to get their economies moving again, especially at a time of heightened global uncertainty. Much more can be done. But let’s start by celebrating the successes of these five individuals, and learning from what they can teach us.


AQ Top 5 Young Entrepreneurs: Andrés Moreno

Cheeky do-it-yourself commercials turned this tech founder into a local celebrity. Persistence and creativity turned him into one of the Venezuela's brightest young entrepreneurs. (Also available in Spanish)
Leila Velez

AQ Top 5 Young Entrepreneurs: Leila Velez

This Rio de Janeiro native left her job at McDonald's to start a hair care company when she was just 19. Now, Beleza Natural employs more than 3,000 people and serves over 130,000 customers per month. (Also available in Spanish and Portuguese)

AQ Top 5 Young Entrepreneurs: Maximo Cavazzani

If you could pick a time and a place to start a business, Argentina in 2009 probably wouldn't top your list. Don't tell that to the founder of Etermax, creator of mobile games like Trivia Crack, which for much of 2014 and 2015 was the world’s most downloaded free app. (Also available in Spanish)

AQ Top 5 Young Entrepreneurs: Jimena Flórez

Chaak Healthy Snacks is transforming the eating habits of thousands of children in the U.S. while helping farmers in Colombia adopt sustainable farming techniques and benefit from access to new markets. (Also available in Spanish)

AQ Top 5 Young Entrepreneurs: Yondainer Gutiérrez

This co-developer of AlaMesa, the first and most popular restaurant app in Cuba, is one of the visible faces of the growing community of entrepreneurs on the island. (Also available in Spanish)
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Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
Tags: AQ Top 5, Entrepreneurship

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