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Ten Startups Selected for IREX and Village Capital’s YLAI Americas Accelerator

Selected startups are delivering services and creating opportunities for women, rural and indigenous communities, people with disabilities, and more.

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Mexico City (January, 13th 2022) –  In order to advance prosperity and opportunity in the Western Hemisphere, the U.S. Department of State will sponsor ten alumni of the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Fellowship program to grow their business ventures across a variety of sectors. Through funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by IREX in partnership with Village Capital, these innovative entrepreneurs will receive targeted support and mentorship to strengthen their businesses and deepen impact in their communities.

Following a series of online training sessions attended by more than 140 YLAI Fellowship alumni, IREX and Village Capital opened up a call for applications to the Accelerator program that would focus on a smaller group of startups that are creating impact for their communities and have a clear pathway to scale their business in the future. In total, 170 applications from 31 countries in the Western Hemisphere applied to be a part of the Accelerator program.

“Much of the region's focus on innovation is in the main hub spots in the Americas,” said Daniel Cossío, Regional Director for Village Capital Latin America. “We are excited to disrupt this dynamic and be closer to the Caribbean, as well as North, Central, and South America, where a great number of entrepreneurs are solving important social challenges in their communities but lack access to investors’ networks and are unfamiliar with the language of Venture Capital. We hope that bringing them closer to these resources will help them scale their impact to the next level.”

“The world is currently facing significant environmental, social, and economic challenges, such as increasing inequalities and environmental degradation,” said Jennifer Fox, Senior Program Officer for the YLAI team at IREX. “That is why we are thrilled to have partnered with Village Capital, who will be able to continue supporting the YLAI Fellowship Alumni to build economic prosperity across the Americas and advance their businesses through the organization’s investment readiness and scalability curriculum.”

The final cohort comprises the top ten companies selected to participate, half of which are founded by women. These companies, representing 10 different countries across the region, are creating solutions that serve rural and low-income communities as well as people with disabilities; support women’s health; expand employment opportunities; and more.

Here are the ten selected startups:

  • Easy Clean Water (Valencia, Venezuela) allows remote regions to access clean water by providing self-sustainable water purification systems.
  • Lazarillo (Tampa, Florida, USA & Santiago, Chile) allows people with visual disabilities to navigate the world autonomously through a mobile app.
  • Lima Compost (Lima, Peru) offers clean composting solutions for more than 2,500 households and businesses, preventing organic waste from reaching the landfill.
  • MediGet (Ñemby, Paraguay) operates a telemedicine platform that connects health professionals and patients.
  • Nuevo Método (Buenos Aires, Argentina) offers women subscription-based contraception, including prescription, medical advice, and sexual health education.
  • ONG Te Protejo (Santiago, Chile) raises awareness about animal testing on cosmetics and provides solutions by educating and promoting cruelty-free products.
  • Santé Cutarras (Panama City, Panama) sells the National Sandal of Panama crafted by local artisans. 
  • Trabaja Mamá (Acarigua, Venezuela) operates a digital platform that connects talented freelance mothers with potential employers and job opportunities.
  • TUINFO (La Paz, Bolivia) installs Wi-Fi hotspots to democratize internet access for low-income communities.
  • Will and Tomorrow (Kingston, Jamaica) operates an online platform that allows users to create their will and other legal documents at an affordable rate.

The selected cohort will join the accelerator from January to April 2022 and participate in workshops focused on improving investment readiness and scalability. The participants will benefit from Village Capital’s experience, including the opportunity to work closely with industry experts, investors, and ecosystem partners to develop the networks they need to scale their impact.

For more information, reach out to Sofía Cándano at Village Capital (sofia.candano@vilcap.com).

For queries to the Department of State, reach out to ECA-Press@state.gov.

About YLAI

The YLAI Fellowship Program is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and implemented by IREX. The fellowship brings together emerging entrepreneurs from 37 countries across Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada to learn, share expertise, develop their business skills, and build networks. Since the initiative’s launch in 2015, more than 1,000 YLAI Fellows have expanded their leadership and entrepreneurial experience, accelerated their commercial and social ventures’ success, and strengthened their capacity to effectively contribute to social and economic development in their communities.

About IREX

IREX is a global development and education organization. We strive for a more just, prosperous, and inclusive world—where individuals reach their full potential, governments serve their people, and communities thrive. With an annual portfolio of nearly $90 million and more than 500 staff worldwide, we work with partners in more than 100 countries in four areas essential to progress: cultivating leaders, empowering youth, strengthening institutions, and increasing access to quality education and information.

About Village Capital

Village Capital helps entrepreneurs bring big ideas from vision to scale. Our mission is to reinvent the system to back the entrepreneurs of the future. Our vision is a future where businesses create equity and long‐term prosperity. Since 2009, we have supported more than 1,000 early‐stage entrepreneurs through our investment readiness programs. Our affiliated fund, VilCap Investments, has invested in more than 100 program graduates, including 9 early-stage Latin American companies like ePesos (2016), Fintual (2017) and Huli (2017).