As part of its strategy to support and strengthen entrepreneurship in Puerto Rico, particularly after the landfall of Hurricane María, Colmena66, a program of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust, announced the launch of a new tool: Shop & Hire Puerto Rico.
Shop & Hire Puerto Rico is an online directory of stores through which users can browse and make purchases among a wide variety of products. In addition, through the website, people will be able to connect with freelancers and Puerto Rican professionals who can work remotely from Puerto Rico.
“This new tool is perfectly aligned with our mission to invest, facilitate and develop the capabilities of the economy of Puerto Rico, especially in this moment where we have identified the need to adapt to a new reality,” said Research Trust CEO Lucy Crespo.
“We need to be facilitators for those entrepreneurs who need to expand their businesses and Shop & Hire Puerto Rico is an excellent example of how to do it,” she said.
This initiative will be strategically promoted in markets where there is a high concentration of the Boricua diaspora, who have already been very generous in helping the island and now seek to continue contributing. Partners such as: Brands of Puerto Rico, San Juan Freelance, Solidarity Showcase, Puerto Rico Creative Economy Initiative, Bien Cool, Clickup and the Argentine startup Clinic, a parallel18 alumni also support the initiative.
The efforts are also aimed at offering people from all over the world another way to support Puerto Ricans in the island’s long-term recovery.
“Micro and small companies have a very important role in the economy and the export of their products in the Christmas season represents an opportunity for them to recover faster from the impact of the hurricane, but also so that they see the foreign market as a necessary long-term strategy for the sustainability of their businesses,” said Ricardo Llerandi, executive director of the Puerto Rico Trade and Export Company.
“We know the quality of Puerto Rican talent in professional areas, and this is the time for the rest of the world to know it also,” he added.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 40 percent of small businesses do not reopen after a natural disaster like the one caused by María and of those that do manage to reopen, only 29 percent survive two years after the disaster.
“Shop & Hire Puerto Rico arises thanks to our diaspora, who have been asking us how they can buy from local entrepreneurs online and how they can get talent for remote work,” said Denisse Rodríguez-Colón, director of Colmena66.
“We decided to facilitate these connections to facilitate the long-term recovery of our entrepreneurs,” she said.
Among the local products offered in this directory of virtual stores are: handcrafts, handmade apparel and accessories, beauty products such as creams and body oils, music, books, home decor and Puerto Rican ‘gourmet’ food, such as baked goods and coffee, to mention just a few.
While in the “Hire” section, people may hire services from expert professionals and freelancers in areas such as: design, accounting, sales and marketing, creative services, web developers and programmers, translators, etc. The list can be seen on the website.
Stores or professionals interested in being part of the platform can register on the page. If a merchant wants to participate, but does not have an online store, Colmena66 will provide a workshop, along with allied resources, at 8:30 a.m today in the offices of Parallel18 in Santurce.