Puerto Rico Global at the Americas Latino EcoFestival 2016
Every four years, a group of eco-friendly Latinos round up empowering Hispanics to talk to attendees at the Americas Latino EcoFestival and share their ideas, their startups and how they are innovating companies. Now celebrating its fourth year, the Latino EcoFestival was dedicated to the Amazon, the Artic National Refuge, and the festival’s country of honor was none other than our very own Puerto Rico! Upon learning of this, Puerto Rico Global staff members were immediately on board to coordinate a panel and represent our Island in the city of Denver, Colorado. In fact, the founder of the Americas Latino EcoFestival, Irene Vilar, is the granddaughter of Lolita Lebrón and a proud Puerto Rican.
Connecting the Dots
It was Ana Sánchez, the Communications and Public Relations Specialist for the Foundation for Puerto Rico who connected Puerto Rico Global to the Americas Latino EcoFestival. She told the comical story that, when she was in Colorado, she proudly wore t-shirts that spell Puerto Rico in rhinestones. On one such day, while walking in Colorado, she heard “¡Mira Boricua!” from across the street. Being a Public Relations Specialist, she felt compelled to cross the street and meet the fellow Puerto Rican who had hollered at her. Turns out, the Boricua across the street was the co-founder of BoomTown Accelerator, a company that brings together startups to make them stronger. One of the companies brought together by BoomTown Accelerator was BeVisible Latinx.
Ana Sánchez mentioned she was inspired to connect BeVisible with Puerto Rico Global. She said, “I started looking to see what kind of organizations were associated to BoomTown Accelerator…and I saw one called BeVisible. So I asked them, “What do you do?” “BeVisible helps Hispanic women be seen in the United States just as we are,” she said with a smile. “And I immediately thought of the connection with Isabel Rullán of Puerto Rico Global and I connected them.”
It turns out BeVisible Latinx is associated with the Americas Latino EcoFestival, which this year was held in honor of Puerto Rico. “As soon as I connected these marvelous women, there was a meeting of the minds, because it was natural.” Through BeVisible Latinx, Isabel Rullán met the founder of Americas Latino Eco Festival, Irene Vilar. “Irene said, ‘Isabel! You have to put together a panel of the people who are transforming Puerto Rico!’” And Isabel Rullán, Managing Director of Puerto Rico Global & ConPRmetidos, was more than happy to comply as she saw this as a way to keep expanding the network and attracting investments to the Island through innovative projects.
Puerto Rican Innovators at the Americas Latino EcoFestival
It is hard to believe that, in an Island with a debt crisis of more than $70 billion, a crippling infrastructure, and a recent energy crisis and blackout, social enterprises and millennial innovators are seeking out Puerto Rico as the home of their innovative projects. Five of these innovators presented a panel on Puerto Rico’s startups and new businesses, “How Social Enterprises and Organizations are Transforming Puerto Rico’s Future,” at the Americas Latino EcoFestival in Denver, Colorado.
Let’s meet some of them:
Isabel Rullán, ConPRmetidos and Puerto Rico Global
Isabel Rullán is one of the co-founders and the Managing Director of ConPRmetidos and Puerto Rico Global, a millennial-driven organization with a project that intends to connect Puerto Ricans around the world in order to collaborate and help the crippling job market on the Island. You can learn more about Isabel Rullán’s work here. If you want to learn how you can connect with other Puerto Rican business innovators, check out the Puerto Rico Global blog here.
Tara Rodríguez, El Departamento de la Comida & Efecto Sombrilla
El Departamento de la Comida in Punta las Marías, Puerto Rico, is a different restaurant that focuses on using locally produced food. Verdelicias.com states that, “More than a restaurant, El Departamento de la Comida forms part of an important local movement that wants to revive the Island’s agriculture to make it sustainable.”
Similarly, Efecto Sombrilla works with volunteers to promote healthy food consumption and the promotion of local agriculture. The company even offers vegetarian cooking classes and an agro-ecologic market that sells local produce fresh from the Island.
Alex Díaz, Green Building Council
Previously the editor of Caribbean Business, Alex Díaz is currently a member of the US Green Building Council whose job is to promote greener and eco-friendly buildings around the world through certification programs and educating communities about eco-friendly buildings.
Lucas Arzola is the Director of Operations at Parallel 18, “ an economic development initiative that attracts early stage, and high-impact startups that can scale from Puerto Rico to global communities, beyond the island, including Mainland US, Latin America, and Europe. The goal of the program is to position Puerto Rico’s as a unique gateway to scale globally.
José Carlos Torres, DDEC Promoter
José Carlos Torres is a financial adviser, certified promoter of export laws, and entrepreneur with over 8 years of experience in the industry. In collaboration with the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC), José Carlos has been working to bring new sustainable commerce and economic development to the Island. They have been working on bringing the production of biodegradable six-pack rings to Puerto Rico. Ana Sánchez explained, “I have lived, you know, in a terrible martyrdom because I always have to cut [the six-pack rings], I don’t throw them in the trash for anything in the world! Well, now it’s fish food! …That, my friend, is going to be made here in Puerto Rico!”
Some of the other Puerto Rican speakers that participated from the Americas Latino EcoFestival were Myrna Pagan, leader of “Vidas Viequenses Valen” and Jorge Pérez and Denisse Cruz co-founders of “El Batey”, one of the first nature adventure companies with the Certified Ecotourism Operation certification from the Green Certification Program of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company.
Networking and Engaging is Key
If there is anything the co-fraternization of this group of Puerto Ricans and their organizations have shown is that engaging with fellow businesses and networking is the key to success. During their trip to Colorado, this amazing group of innovators had the opportunity to meet the co-founder and co-director of BoomTown Accelerator, José Vieitez, and Congressman Jared Polis. The exciting visits turned into unexpected opportunities of economic development for the Island. Not only did Representative Polis suggested to establish a collaboration between the University of Colorado and Parallel 18, but he also agreed to host two Puerto Rican meet ups in Colorado. Congressman Polis is also in the Natural Resources Committee that oversees the Task Force on Puerto Rico’s economic development and he asked Foundation for Puerto Rico, Parallel 18 and ConPRmetidos to send him their recommendations for the Task Force so that he can manage the discussion and evaluation of the proposals with his peers.
As always, stay tuned for more news on what #PuertoRicoIsDoing here at The Blog and remember to #EngagePuertoRico!
See you soon,
Viviana Del Manzano
Puerto Rico Global Blogger & Contributor