This Week at Idea Foundry we would like to welcome the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative Fellows to Pittsburgh. The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) is a program of the U.S. Department of State, administered by Meridian International Center in collaboration with our local partner GlobalPittsburgh. This is the third year for the program, which brings 250 young entrepreneurs and leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean to be placed in 20 cities throughout the U.S., with 12 coming to Pittsburgh this year. The Fellows are in the U.S. for a little over a month of entrepreneurial training, networking, and skills building. A key component of this program is the Fellowship placement with an organization similar to their own where they will collaborate on day-to-day activities and a joint project. Ricardo, who is the Founder and CEO of addereMX in Mexico, a consultancy firm dedicated to helping entrepreneurs grow their business through strategic communications, marketing, and other business development programs, will be working with our team. Victoria, the Founder of BdIn in Argentina, which uses big data to determine the most appropriate medical center based on availability, will be working with one of Idea Foundry’s portfolio companies MyHouseCall, which developed an app to connect patients with medical providers.
While the YLAI experience no doubt gives the Fellows exposure to the similarities and differences in models in the U.S., the experience is also widens the perspective of the hosts. We know from hosting two Fellows last year from Chile and Venezuela that this is an enriching experience for our team as well, and enabled us to developing connections that last after the end of the program. Just from this first week, we know that we will not be disappointed this year either.
Programs like YLAI help to facilitate the kind of international collaboration that is a cornerstone objective of Idea Foundry in fostering global innovation and business. The YLAI program also offers the option for a Reverse Exchange for select Fellows and their Hosts. Last year we applied and were selected for this opportunity and traveled to Santiago, Chile to collaborate on a project with our Fellow last May. (Check out our article here for more information on that trip!) The Reverse Exchange enabled Idea Foundry to identify other key partners to continue ongoing projects between Pittsburgh and Chile. We are already excited for the ways in which we can collaborate with our Fellow this year during and after the program.