In late May, CTEK hosted a collaboration in Los Cabos, Mexico, between the executive team of Young Americans Center for Financial Education (YACFE) and local Los Cabos leadership, including the Presidents of three Rotary Clubs, the principals of two schools and the Executive Director of a youth center. All participants are excited to launch three pilot programs in the fall to teach YACFE’s YouthBiz entrepreneurship program to teenagers, and involve parents who are eager to support their children and learn alongside them.
YACFE is a Denver-based nonprofit committed to developing the financial literacy of young people with real-life experiences and hands-on education. “We had not thought of going to Latin America when we first applied for a grant,” said YACFE C.E.O. Rich Martinez, “but we are taking on this international challenge because we believe that replicating our successful YouthBiz entrepreneurship program can bring about systemic change and spur economic growth in all Latin America.” Anna Leer, Vice President, YouthBiz, adds, “The local reception of the YouthBiz program was overwhelmingly positive. Everyone immediately saw the value of the program to unlock economic potential and are fast at work building the program into the fall curriculum. YACFE is excited to return to Los Cabos for teacher training.”
Fredy Rodriguez, President of a Los Cabos Rotary, says, “We’re excited to collaborate! Our desire is to help shape the program to fit LatinX culture and expand nationally then internationally via the Rotary network.” The Rotary will sponsor (fund, market, plan, host) the kid’s competitions and events. “
One of CTEK’s core regional initiatives is supporting Latin American youth entrepreneurship as a means of overcoming debilitating poverty, as well as ingrained national and cultural barriers. “Young adults need more role models of ethical business practice and mentorship along with financial literacy and business skills training,” explains Onagh Ash, founder of Gente Joven por un Cambio (Young People for Change). “The youth center will bring in the lowest-income kids who are from schools with few resources.”
CTEK’s role is to bring the partners together in collaboration, ensuring that the program embeds ethics in business, measurement of impact, and a GiveBack attitude to help others as they have been helped. CTEK guides the process of building collaboration, co-funding, and sponsorship to expand throughout Mexico, with plans to incorporate the program into the SEP (national school board) curriculum, then all Latin America.
CTEK’s partner, the Techstars Foundation, is providing seed funding for program development, training, translation, biz kits, workbooks, program execution and reporting. “This is an impactful, huge bang-per-buck grant showing the power of our collaborative approach to solving big problems,” says Lu Córdova, CTEK CEO.
Córdova is of Mexican descent and passionate about breaking down barriers to entrepreneurship in Latin America. She and her sister, Marianne Córdova Breen, are personally donating assets appraised at $1,400,000 as a matching grant to extend the program throughout Mexico and Latin America. “Open access to and the development of a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem requires a long-term, culture-changing strategy through experiential learning like the YouthBiz program, explains Córdova. Cordova-Breen concurs, “Our father was born in one the poorest regions in Mexico and rose to live the American Dream,” she explains, “We are dual citizens and feel deeply committed to helping the future generations of fellow Latinos find their way into our entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
“How proud we are of these “village” champions who are showing the power of collaboration to make it happen,” says Córdova. “It’s a WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN-WIN for all!”