The WEAmericas Accelerator

Project: Research project

Description

Executive Summary

As a knowledge unit of Arizona State University, Thunderbird School of Global Management is uniquely qualified to design and implement the WEAmericas Accelerator for women entrepreneurs in Central America. Founded in 1946, Thunderbird is widely recognized as one of the worlds leading global business schools. With a mission to create sustainable prosperity worldwide, the school leverages its faculty, expertise, and international networks to provide business training in developing countries through the schools social impact division, Thunderbird for Good. With a strategic focus on educating non-traditional students, often women, Thunderbird for Good provides access to management training, resources, and mentors mentorship to business owners in developing and emerging economies. More than 116,000 entrepreneurs from 60 countries have participated in Thunderbird for Good programs since its inception in 2005. A wide range of Thunderbird for Goods programs have been designed specifically to serve aspiring business women in the Americas, including the original WEAmericas training program that brought 25 women entrepreneurs from 10 Latin American countries to Thunderbird. Building on that program, Thunderbird has the support of that original programs partners, WEConnect and Goldman Sachs, along with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank, SBDCs and CENPROMYPE in Central America. As we do with all of our programs, we will call upon private and public universities in the countries where we work, building local capacity of the institutions and the sustainability of the program.

Thunderbird for Good will create a business accelerator that facilitates participant is predisposed to success as it builds on the proven track record of creating highly effective and impactful programs. With an understanding that Central America is not a homogeneous region, the initiative will leverage Thunderbirds expertise in global business and culture cross-cultural communication to match the unique needs of women from various countries, industries, and ethnicities to the appropriate materials, financial resources, and training. Emphasis will be made to create diverse cohorts that include women from all seven countries, including indigenous women from the highlands of Guatemala and Afro-Caribbean women from the coastal regions of Honduras and Nicaragua.

The WEAmericas Accelerator that Thunderbird for Good proposes includes an elegant design to maximize learning and networking opportunities. The initiative combines intensive business education, an online learning platform, mentorship programs, access to networks, and connections to financing for women business owners in Central America. Over three years, three cohorts of at least 25 women each will participate in a 10-month long intervention. Each cohort will begin with five days of intensive business and management training. The curriculum, designed by Thunderbirds world class faculty, will include class room lectures, interactive exercises, and site visits to women owned businesses. The week will end with two days of intensive mentorship sessions.

Thunderbird will leverage its networks and existing partnerships to support the WEAmericas Accelerator. Thunderbird will tap its extensive alumni and faculty connections throughout the region to lead some of the courses. Working closely with local public and private universities will benefit both the schools and the women entrepreneurs. Sharing the curriculum and methodology will help to build capacity locally. Additionally, students from local universities will be recruited as volunteers, which will help them to build their skills and experience.

Thunderbird will leverage it networks and existing partnerships to support the WEAmericas Accelerator. Working closely with public and private universities will benefit both the schools and the women entrepreneurs. Using a proven train-the trainer model, Thunderbird will tap faculty from the region to lead some of the courses, building capacity locally. Students from the universities will also be sought to support the women to fulfill the social service component many degree programs have and to build their skills and experience.
Two layers of mentorship have beenwill be built into the program. First, each of the entrepreneurs will be paired with an Expert Mentor with experience in the same or parallel industry as the WEAmericas student. Second, each woman will be paired with a Peer Mentor. The Peer Mentors will be one of the women that have successfully completed their Accelerator program from the previous cohort. The first cohort will be paired with the graduates of the original WEAmericas cohort from 2012. Thunderbird mentorship programs include a robust recruitment process, guidelines to maximize impact, and regular check-in calls.

During the 10 months following the training, the entrepreneurs, with the support of their mentors, will construct a growth plan for their business that they will present to potential investors at the close of the program in a capstone event. The Accelerator will continue to support them with additional resources, access to continued capacity building, and programmed milestones for them to achieve that will help keep them on a successful track. Additional capacity building includes access to an online training platform called DreamBuilder, group mentoring sessions, and financial resources to attend regional events that will build provide access to new markets. The online training platform provides business training, virtual connections to other women business owners, and a business plan creation tool. Before participating in the capstone event, the women will be required to take the DreamBuilder Access to Finance module to learn more about the options for financing business growth. The Program Manager will work with each woman to select the events they will attend, like such as trade shows, buyers meetings, and networking events, to maximize the potential to expand their access to markets.

At the close of each cohort, the women attend a capstone event where they will attend sessions presented by potential investorstop financial organizations, have the opportunity to present their growth plan to the investors, and promote their companies to both the targeted investors and the greater public. The capstone event will be held in conjunction with the next cohorts training sessions, allowing the women to benefit from participating in two capstone events. The capstone events will convene financial institutions, potential investors, and private sector companies, providing the entrepreneurs with an opportunity to pitch their business and find linkages to capital to fund their growth plans. Thunderbird will draw upon its extensive network of alumni working in multinational corporations in the region, NGOs, large corporations with operations in the region, U.S. Embassies, local government agencies, and executives, both regionally and globally. The Inter-American Development Bank and Goldman Sachs have already pledged their commitment to assist with bringing in top regional financial partners. WEConnect will support the women through their certification process, additional learning opportunities, and three Meet the Member networking events broadening the womens access to corporate procurement and contract opportunities. Impactful

The robust WEAmericas Accelerator by Thunderbird for Good benefits from Thunderbirds extensive network, itsa proven ability to create programs that accelerate business growth, and multiple layers of training, mentoring, and networking. The WEAmericas Accelerator will change the lives of the women entrepreneurs and will affect their families and communities in measurable ways.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date9/23/169/30/19

Funding

  • DOS: Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA): $2,277,227.00

Fingerprint

entrepreneur
event
Central America
investor
networking
private university
alumni
school
mentoring
resources
university
bank
expertise
student
management
business education
curriculum
coastal region
experience
Honduras