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Several initiatives try to stop the flight of talent from the island by supporting entrepreneurs. Photo: EPA-EFE FILE / Thais Llorca
Several initiatives try to stop the flight of talent from the island by supporting entrepreneurs. Photo: EPA-EFE FILE / Thais Llorca

Entrepreneurs will save Puerto Rico

Several initiatives to support entrepreneurs are trying to stop the flight of talent from the island after Hurricane Maria.

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An economic crisis, Hurricane Maria ... The difficulties to undertake in Puerto Rico are many, but there are people determined to try to retain talent on the island. Among them, the founders of Pre18, a startup accelerator aimed at local entrepreneurs, offering grants of up to $20,000 in advisory and training programs for projects in their initial phase.

According to NBC News, Pre18 is looking for 20 innovative startups with international expansion projects in the future.

Why do we exist? The creators of Pre18 ask on their website. "Because we believe in the ingenuity of Puerto Ricans and that entrepreneurship is the key to Puerto Rico's economic recovery before, during and after Hurricane Maria." With this in mind, it was evident the need to duplicate local efforts and design a pre-acceleration program that focuses on helping emerging entrepreneurs to develop their businesses and take them to local and global markets.

Pre18 is part of the Parallel18 platform, a global startup accelerator that's been on the island for two years.

Since then, Parallel18 has accelerated a hundred startups from 15 different countries in its facilities in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Despite the damage caused by Hurricane Maria - they were left without electricity and Internet - the accelerator has managed to get ahead and maintain the program.

Another of the most outstanding initiatives to retain entrepreneurial talent in Puerto Rico is Animus, a platform founded by two Puerto Ricans to promote and support female entrepreneurs on the island.

The goal of the founders of Animus, Carlos Cobian, and Lucienne Gigante, is to stimulate the creation of companies run by women, as well as attract capital and resources to the island, as Latina magazine reports.

With more than 1000 participants, Animus has been organizing for the last three years the largest gathering of innovative women in America from Puerto Rico. The meeting focuses on promoting mentoring, networking and relationships, among others.

"After the hurricane, I felt it was my duty to rebuild my sweet island," said Gigante to Latina magazine during the summit celebration. "All the entrepreneurs gathered today in this room just want to live better, raise capital and change the world." Among the most inspiring attendees were some of the best Latino leaders in the community, such as the Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Tony award winner, Rita Moreno.

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