During fall of 2017, members of the Rines Angel Fund were given a unique opportunity to partake in the International Visitor Leadership Program put on by the Department of State, focusing on one of its latest projects, “BUILDING SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTERS – A Project for Nicaragua.” Rines Angel Fund members sat down with six of Nicaragua’s most entrepreneurially focused academics to share experiences with how the University of New Hampshire and the Rines Angel Fund promote and provide a uniquely entrepreneurial experience to students.
Promoting entrepreneurship is difficult- “Nine out of ten startups will fail” is a common mantra in the startup community. In America, we see breaking edge technology every day; innovators such as Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg seem to be sharing new discoveries that have the potential to change the modern world. Although these incredible innovations do happen in countries around the world, some countries receive less institutional and societal support than others. To illustrate this, our guests from Nicaragua used an example of the societal judgment of entrepreneurs. In the United States, they saw support from families and institutions, encouraging entrepreneurs to take calculated risks. In Nicaragua, they said, these feelings of excitement and possibility surrounded with innovation were far less common. In fact, entrepreneurship often felt like a discouraged career opportunity.
One of the council members was Mr. Jose Manuel Matute Castillo, who currently serves as the Director of Promotion for the Department of Small Business Development, Ministry of Family, Community, Cooperative, and Associative Economy (MEFCCA). Jose engages with academic institutions and startups directly on how the government can get involved and support entrepreneurs. In Nicaragua, he shared, there is no enterprise training, as the training and school system is directed at developing strong employees. He is attempting to shift this mindset and teach startup methodologies and practices to help foster innovation through the education system. According to Castillo, about 90% of companies in Nicaragua are considerably small, however new companies do not have the resources or the research and development to bring their products to market.
Sharing our experiences at the University of New Hampshire and as members of the Rines Angel Fund with the council from Nicaragua was an eye-opening experience. It was invaluable for members of the Rines Angel Fund to learn how the concept of entrepreneurship and angel investing changes in different parts of the world. We hope to continue to foster our relationship with the council members in order to continue building our knowledge of the global startup community.