For any startup, getting the right traction and exposure is key to building the product you love. Moreover, such updates and progress always light up investors. This has called for several startup bootcamps and accelerators, Y-Combinator being one of the pioneers, that offer startup several opportunities to get funded, usually for some equity. Start-Up Chile is one of such programs.
The Start-Up Chile program offers opportunities to entrepreneurs from all over the world to apply, spend 6 months in Chile, and build a great product with excellent execution. The program, launched a few years ago, has offered several startups around the world this same opportunity, under the auspices of the Chilean government. Unlike most programs, accelerators and even co-working spaces, Start-Up Chile does not take equity in the startups.
Start-Up Chile has a large portfolio, receiving in between 200 – 250 companies a year. This deal flow is represented by 3 distinct programs based on the stage of the startup; The S Factory, Seed and Scale. In each of them, at least one of the founders of the startup has to settle in Chile and give back to the Chilean society through a social impact program that aims to promote innovation and entrepreneurship.
Within those four or so years, 5 Ghanaian startups have been a part of the program. These are the startups.
Zished is a gift site that enables consumers to order cakes, flowers, gift vouchers, hampers, and other products online and have them delivered to their doorsteps. Consumers can select their gifts or treats from the site’s curated selection for various events, including Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s day, Father’s day, Valentine’s, weddings, retirements, and more. Zished was launched by Kojo Ayirebi and Christiane Koenig in 2013 and its operations are based in Accra, Ghana.
Sleekwork is an online marketplace which allows employers to find, hire and pay skilled African freelancers. Freelancers create free profiles and employers can post jobs for free and they can also pay for work done and write reviews about the freelancer. Sleekwork ensures that both the employer and freelancer are protected with its escrow system and it takes a commission for work completed. The company also runs Sleekjob which trains software developers to groom for the freelance market.
PayBrisk enables merchants, NGOs & start-ups to accept online payment on their websites through multiple payment options. They enable payment using services such as Visa Electrons, Master Cards, American Express, Discovery, Paypal & the various Mobile Money payment platforms in Africa. The process of integration on PayBrisk is very simple and does not requires technical/programming skills helping an average person who knows how to use the internet to be able to install PayBrisk on any website.
Beavly is an online training marketplace that connects people who want to learn new skills with top professionals who offer practical and physical training for a fee. They offer professionals a dedicated platform where they can boost their online presence by creating business profiles and list all training programs they offer. They also provide skill seekers a seamless and efficient way of finding quality and affordable training programs. Beavly was founded by Ijeoma Oguegbu and Barbara Okoto.
Vestracker is an online freight management system which allows forwarders and logistics companies to manage all their shipments and operations with one tool. They provide a SAAS solution designed with several modules, that encompasses every department in your company; Sales, Operations, Accounting etc. The easy to use software solution covers the full freight forwarding cycle.
The Startup Chile Program’s way of growing employment in the country is quite unique, both in thought and implementation. Come to think of it, some startups may never declare dividends, raise more funding or sell. They might just keep growing organically, or even die. If, as a country, you don’t think of employment this way, you’ll miss out!
The Global Accelerator Report determined that the Chilean Entrepreneurship Program is in third place among the accelerators that supported more startups in 2015 and fourth place among the ones that most invested. On another hand, Chile came up second in the top 10 countries that invest in startups, just behind the United States.
To Rocío Fonseca, Executive Director of Start-Up Chile, this study demonstrates that the program has met its primary objective: changing the entrepreneurship mindset in Chile.
“We have become a disruptive business accelerator, we have based our model on attracting talent and on cultural exchange. We wanted to bring the world to Chile and be a meeting point between technological culture and diversity in a monocultural country like ours”, she explains.
It’s encouraging to see Ghanaian startups apply for such programs, surprising 4 out of the 5 startups were from MEST. I think the Ghanaian government could institute a program like that. That’s a discussion I hope is started soon, though. For startups that want to apply to the Startup Chile Program, follow this link on the program’s website.
Also published on Medium.