Colmena66, the specialized business support network that operates under the direction of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust has more than 200 organizations and programs in its network dedicated to building and strengthening the business community on the island.
The organization affiliated with SourceLink, an organization established with the support of the Kauffman Foundation, has achieved this in its first two years, according to the results of its impact report for the year 2018.
Its network also includes hundreds of mentors, coaches, consultants, investors and entrepreneurs. The impact report developed by Colmena66 highlights the growth of the support network for entrepreneurs and small businesses in Puerto Rico.
“Just as beehives serve several purposes, such as honey production and cross-pollination, Colmena66 has created an infrastructure to support, build and measure the development of the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Puerto Rico” said Colmena66 Executive Director Denisse Rodríguez-Colón.
“That is the basis of every initiative we develop and we are excited that we have already begun to see results, ” she said.
Colmena66, which also facilitates access to business events and workshops through a central calendar on its website, reported the growth it achieved in its second year; increasing by 20% the number of organizations affiliated with the network. In addition, they reported to have received more than 1,000 phone calls, and 7,443 requests through their online resource browser.
Colmena66’s team made over 1,200 business referrals to network organizations and published more than 1,300 events and workshops in its central calendar, it noted.
The information that emerges in this report is summarized in the following areas:
· Growth of collaborators in the platform and connections of entrepreneurs with the resources they need to start or grow their businesses;
· Data that reflects the impact that the program has had on the development of the entrepreneurship ecosystem on the island; and,
· Key Performance Indicators of projects such as “Tu Camino Empresarial” and
Boricua Emprende Fest.”
Colmena66 has two main components: the first one offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to find the resources they need for their businesses. In this process, the nonprofit takes charge of understanding the need of entrepreneurs to connect them with the appropriate resources quickly, it stated.
The second component are the resource partners, organizations that provide business support, to whom the entrepreneurs are referred with the right resource at the right time. Colmena66 also has the function of facilitating the strengthening of our entrepreneurial ecosystem, identifying and addressing gaps so that all entrepreneurs always have the support they need.
Among the top reasons why entrepreneurs and business owners sought Colmena66 assistance were: startup assistance, business plan assistance, mentoring, loans, and marketing & sales.
Science Trust CEO Lucy Crespo pointed out the vital importance of supporting the entrepreneurs and the organizations that are connecting with the purpose of building a “new and vigorous” Puerto Rico.
“Providing the right tools to our entrepreneurs is fundamental and it is precisely through programs such as Colmena66 and its initiatives that we are achieving and bringing together such an important community to encourage, now more than ever, the economic development of our island,” she said.
Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Development
C66 works to contribute to the development of the island’s business ecosystem by connecting and giving visibility to the entrepreneurial support organizations, governmental and academic institutions.
This work is important because entrepreneurs and business owners in Puerto Rico face certain barriers when it comes to starting or growing their businesses: networks that are exclusive or difficult to access, insufficient educational resources, a culture averse to risk, and lack of coordination between resources, among other problems, the nonprofit explained.
To begin to eliminate these barriers, C66 has implemented three main initiatives: Red Colmena66 Meetups, “Tu Camino Empresarial and the Boricua Emprende Fest.
The Red Colmena66 Meetups are convened with the purpose of getting the resource partners together to discuss the challenges they’re facing and identify collaborative solutions to address gaps in services and programs.
“Tu Camino Empresarial” is a tool that was co-designed with the Red Colmena66 organizations to serve as a map for entrepreneurs and business owners, through the Red Colmena66 Meetups in five different locations throughout the island.
Meanwhile, the “Boricua Emprende Fest” is an annual event designed to celebrate the talent that supports the entrepreneurship movement inside and outside Puerto Rico, educate about business development at all levels about business development at all levels and promote an inclusive and collaborative entrepreneurial community in Puerto Rico.