Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) Dominican Republic is led by the the Global Entrepreneurship Network - Dominican Republic and Emprende. We caught up with their GEW Host, Patricia Acosta, to discuss how they want entrepreneurs to know that they have a series of organizations behind them that are supporting them and helping them succeed in their startups. The country's goal is to make GEW the 'before and after' of entrepreneurship development in our country.
This article is part of a series highlighting successful GEW hosts from around the world.
ABOUT GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP WEEK
GEN: When did you decide to get involved in Global Entrepreneurship Week and why?
Acosta: I heard about GEW when I first lived in Silicon Valley, so when it was time to return home, I knew I wanted to be a part of this. In my position as the person responsible to articulate the key players that foster entrepreneurship, it was a given getting involved, so we started co-organizing the week with Emprende. Based on the work we did that year, we have officially become the GEW host in the Dominican Republic.
GEN: How does GEW support the other work that your organization does?
Acosta: Our organization is responsible for articulating and promoting collaborative work within the ecosystem, hence GEW is an instrument to build momentum and create a buzz about the importance and relevance of entrepreneurship. GEW also works as a tool to gather the ecosystem as the planning of it requires the entire ecosystem to get together and plan the week.
GEN: What do you have planned for your first GEW?
Acosta: This year, we are building momentum. We want people to really understand what GEW is all about and what the reason behind it is. Therefore, we are collaborating with the members of the National Entrepreneurship Network to do an array of events taking into consideration this year’s four main themes.
GEN: What do you hope to achieve with GEW 2020?
Acosta: This year we want to fully promote the Entrepreneurship National Network of the Dominican Republic. We want entrepreneurs to know that they have a series of organizations behind them that are supporting them and helping them succeed with their startups. Our goal is to make GEW to be the before and after of entrepreneurship development in our country.
ABOUT YOUR COUNTRY'S STARTUP ECOSYSTEM
GEN: Tell us about the startup ecosystem in your country. What are its main characteristics? If you could change one thing to make it better, what would it be? Who are the stars of your country’s ecosystem?
Acosta: Our ecosystem is still in its early stage, but what can really characterize us is our resilience. We’ve had a few stumbles along the road, and it has not stopped us from building an ecosystem that five years from now, we can really be proud of. If I were to change anything, it would be the way we interact as an ecosystem. Though we all know each other and collaborate, we need to see this in a more articulated way. We should seek more international opportunities, so our startups can expand their horizons through their business. We can perhaps, down the line, build that unicorn that will put us on the map.
The stars of our ecosystems are each and every one of the members of the network, those who wake up every day to support an entrepreneur, those who work 24 hours a day (they know who they are) to continue building programs so our ecosystems can thrive and become a force to be reckoned.
GEN: Tell us about your organization. What does it do to support entrepreneurs and/or grow your startup ecosystem?
Acosta: The aim of la Red Nacional de Emprendimiento of the Dominican Republic is to promote a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation as a way of thinking and acting in life – ensuring the competitiveness, leadership, training and sustainability of the new companies that are created in the country.
Our day to day work is to help the ecosystem grow by identifying the needs of the entrepreneurs and connect them with the organizations that can best assist them, as well as creating metrics of where the states of the ecosystem are so it can help us create dialogues that can enhance us to build public policies to continue fostering entrepreneurship in the country.
YOUR RESPONSE TO COVID-19
GEN: How has the COVID19 pandemic impacted your country’s startup ecosystem? What measures are being taken to protect small business owners, if any? — And how do you think GEW will play a role in uniting entrepreneurs during this difficult time?
Acosta: The COVID-19 pandemic has really impacted our economy as it has happened globally, but it has also taught us to be resilient and that with an ecosystem backing entrepreneurs, we can still thrive. From an ecosystem point of view, we have seen immediate changes as we were not utilizing technology to its fullest and it has gotten us to rely more on technology to do our programs. It has also gotten us closer, and now we have to consider it not only impacting our cities but the whole country. From the government perspective, it has been a challenge. We had presidential elections, and new authorities took over. Many of the programs we were running had to be stopped or redesigned to better impact those who are suffering the consequences of COVID-19.