Ep 31 Sean Park, How GroupRaise Became The Tastiest Way to Change the World

Sometimes the best ideas happen while sharing a meal. In the case of GroupRaise, it’s not just ideas that get shared, but a percentage of the profits as well. GroupRaise is a fundraising organization that partners with restaurants across 50 states to offer time slots where local organizations and international charities can book fundraisers in a few clicks. But most people don’t realize that GroupRaise is one of the most cost effective ways of getting new clients into the restaurant and getting them to come back again. Of 100 people who go to a GroupRaise, 40 are new clients, 82 spend more than average and 96 come back in the future!

On this episode of Crossing Borders, Sean Park, one of the GroupRaise co-founders, joined me at the Magma Partners office in Chile to talk about how he helped start the tastiest way to change the world. This is a great conversation I think you will enjoy!

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Doing Business in Central America

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Although incredibly diverse, the smaller countries in Central America still face a number of structural and cultural barriers that continue to hold them back. According to the Wall Street Journal, the “Northern Triangle” of Central America – which includes Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador – is one of the world’s most dangerous regions. Heavy drug trafficking and powerful organized-crime networks have overwhelmed the region’s governmental institutions, creating a vicious circle of poverty and violence. These problems were exacerbated after 9/11 when increased US vigilance in the Gulf of Mexico forced more drug trafficking overland, through Central America.

Thanks to the internet and the widespread adoption of mobile devices, we’re seeing the first doors opening for a new age of development in Central America in the form of entrepreneurs and innovators trying to capitalize on opportunities in countries like Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Here’s a brief overview of the current business environment in some of the smaller countries in Central America.    Continue reading…

Ep 30 Amanda Jacobson, Solving Problems in Education, Agriculture, and Fintech in Latin America

Being able to open a bank account, exchange currency, open a credit card or have access to business credit in something that we take for granted in the United States. I know I did before moving to Latin America.

In the US, most people can easily open bank accounts, apply for loans, and transfer money digitally. But that’s not the case for the bottom 80% of income earners in much of Latin America. It took me 3 years to get a bank in Chile to allow me to open a business account when all I wanted to

Village Capital is a global VC firm with offices in Mexico City that finds, trains, and invests in entrepreneurs solving real-world problems, like the Fintech problems I just mentioned. VilCap works to build communities around entrepreneurs and their ventures to improve opportunities for growth and success. In this conversation, I’m speaking with Amanda Jacobson, Regional Manager for Latin America for the Village Capital team. She explains how VC is changing the way people live and work in Latin America and how Fintech in Latin America is one of the biggest areas of focus for them right now.

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Doing Business in the Caribbean: An Overview of Belize, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti

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Doing Business in the Caribbean

Belize, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti are small countries that have varying degrees of development, openness, but all four are filled with entrepreneurial people. Read on to find out what it’s like to do business in each of these countries, as well as startups pushing their way through to gain traction and get out of their local market.

Doing Business in Belize

This small tropical country (population of 360k) nestled under Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula has long been a top tourist destination but lags behind the rest of the region in entrepreneurship.

The GDP is US$1.76B, and there is currently only one coworking space located in Belize City, Alliance Business Centres, and monthly salaries remain low at around US$800 per month, though the cost of living is relatively higher in Belize than in neighboring countries. Belize’s official language is English, making it simple for those from the United States to work there without having to learn another language.

Local startups such as Boarding Path, the “Google Maps” for inside airports, and Gone Green Superfoods, a manufacturer and importer of the most nutrient-dense superfoods available, target foreign markets – in line with Belize’s fame as a tourism destination – but are slowly gaining traction worldwide. Compared neighboring Costa Rica and Panama, Belize’s ecosystem is much smaller and there are fewer tech startups, but it could be an interesting middle ground, as it’s safer than countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Continue reading…