Step-Up entrepreneurship program graduates 18 seniors
In times of the pandemic and economic instability that will forever be engraved in the island’s collective memory, success stories like those of Maripaz Rodríguez continually emerge.
People like her, who after having retired from the labor market, launch themselves to transform their knowledge and experiences into entrepreneurial opportunities, serve as a source of inspiration for many at this historical moment when Puerto Rico really needs it.
Rodríguez, 63, is a retired San Juan resident with more than 25 years of experience in the instructional design of distance learning courses. Through her participation in the Step-Up business training program – supported by a donation from the MCS Foundation in Alliance with Universidad Ana G. Méndez (UAGM), Cupey campus – Rodríguez retrieved a dream she had “filed away” in her mind for years, as she had considered it incompatible with a 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. job.
Three years after her retirement, her son inspired her to start her business. Guided by unconditional love, Rodríguez used her knowledge to create electronically downloadable courses, audiobooks and forums on social media and other digital communities to support parents, caregivers and therapists working with those with severe autism, helping them in their efforts to improve the quality of life for those in their care.
After months of hard work, 18 new entrepreneurs, including Rodríguez, will take to the streets, ready to launch their businesses after participating in Step-Up, a program aimed at helping people over 60 develop their business ideas from the conceptualization phase to implementation.
In the style of a reality show, but without the TV cameras, this program was created and designed by UAGM especially as a proposal for the MCS Foundation to support its mission of education and economic development.
The main objective was to help the participants, seniors, turn their business ideas into a reality.
“We’ve seen 18 business success stories that were the result of donating to this entrepreneurship program for those over 60,” said Elba Rivera, Executive Director of the MCS Foundation.
“At the MCS Foundation, we’re very proud of everything they achieved during their participation in the program, and for all the success I’m sure they’ll have with their respective businesses. The MCS Foundation is honored to have been part of such an incredible initiative,” she said.
Given the historical times in which we live, initiatives like this become more relevant than ever, as they have shown that the mature population is eager to continue learning and producing for the island.
Carlos Morales Agrinzoni, director of UAGM’s Center for Sustainable Development Studies, said the program provided extensive direction to theses “active and energetic” individuals, who woke up each day with an idea, but didn’t know how to put their dreams and plans into action.
“Through exercises, conferences, and individualized mentoring, we taught them all the concepts for which they should familiarize themselves, such as branding, marketing and developing a business plan, among other important topics that gradually led them to work on their business ideas at their own pace,” he said.
“Thanks to the program, and to everything they experienced and learned, the participants have found a resource that has provided them with an additional livelihood, while they continue to be productive in society. Being part of this effort gives us great satisfaction,” Morales added.
This program was offered through an alliance between the MCS Foundation and Universidad Ana G. Méndez, Cupey campus, and included business, social and technological training by the institution’s professors and resources.
The 18 Step-Up program participants celebrated with a closing activity on June 22.
“Our desire is to launch this challenge, and that more people over 60 dare to accept it, showing the world and themselves that it’s never too late to venture into the business world,” said Rivera.