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With Canada’s support, Enablis boosts Argentinian entrepreneurs’ growth

With Canada’s support, Enablis boosts Argentinian entrepreneurs’ growth

Posted by Clarisa Herrera on November 06, 2014

Enablis Argentina is the first phase of the Enablis Entrepreneurial Network in Latin America, a global NGO created at the G8 summit of 2002 by Telesystem, Accenture and the Government of Canada, with the purpose of creating a new model of economic development based on helping entrepreneurs and with this generating employment in developing countries. It started out in Africa, and it is now reaching 2,500 entrepreneurs-members in 6 countries.

“Enablis is a global initiative. Its roots are very linked to Canada. It was created in the G8 Summit of 2002. There, a work-team came together to think about a new model of socio-economic development. Each country sent a representative from the private sector, some of them came from Toshiba, Accenture, and Microsoft, among others- from Canada the chosen company to send a representative was Telesystem, a global telecommunications company led by the entrepreneur Chalres Sirois. These eight representatives thought through what we know today as Enablis, at that time no one talked about PYMES or entpreneurs or startups but it was obvious, specially to Sirois who became the leader of the group, that this was the way to go” Rose Vervenne, cofounder and Executive Director of Enablis Argentina, told us as she began to talk about the behind the scenes of this global entity, its role in Argentina, and how it is closely linked to Canada.

After the G8 Summit, Sirois became a key piece in the growth of this entity, right?

Sirois was the person the Government of Canada sent to the Summit. He is a very successful businessman that started out as a small entrepreneur in Quebec; he had a family business in the field of Paging. He is a very visionary man that managed to create global telecommunication companies and that’s why they sent him, he knew and knows what it is like to be a small entrepreneur and build your way up. At some point he sold all of his actives in telecommunication companies and Telesystem is now a company that is a partner of, and invests in technology and media companies that have growth potential, using all of its knowledge to help these other companies.

How is the Canadian government involved?

Sirois came back to Canada after the summit and said to the government “we have a model, I think it can work, do we have your support?” Then the Canadian government agreed and Enablis was created under two conditions: first, it had to start taking shape in Africa and second Sirois would lead the whole project. The founding partners are Telesystem, Accenture and the government of Canada. The first five entrepreneurs we had came from South Africa and now we are in 6 different countries of Africa, we have 25000 entrepreneurs and we decided we would start this project in Latin America in 2011.

Why did you choose Argentina as the first Latin American country you would expand to?

Every time we expand to a new place we have Accenture’s support, we analyze the situation of the area we are going to before anything. There was a top 5 of countries where we wanted to start and we chose Buenos Aires because the level of entrepreneurship and their ecosystem is very advanced, we want to try out a model we have been using in Africa. Besides a lot of the ‘know how’ was already in Africa and it made more sense to implement it here because it was closer than Mexico, for example.

I came to live here just for this. I have worked for Accenture for 10 years and that’s how I became familiar with Enablis, so I joined them 6 years ago. I lived for a couple of years in South Africa to help strengthen the network over there. The plan is to expand to other countries starting next year. We have entrepreneurs in Buenos Aires and Cordoba and we are trying to open the model to other parts of the country too.

How do you stimulate the concept of socio-economic development among entrepreneurs?

Enablis’s social mission is accomplished when entrepreneurs create jobs; we support them with a strong focus in people, in human beings. We are not a network of companies, but a network of people. The system is membership based, we choose entrepreneurs from different fields and industries (technologies, design, foods, etc.). Their project must have the potential to generate employment. They are not entrepreneurs with a necessity but rather they are people who are aiming for something more than just self-employment. We are a global entity and we want to support them when they expand too. In Argentina we chose to work with entrepreneurs that in some way have a company running, they are past the stage where they just have an idea.

How is the daily work dynamic?

There are two objectives. Since we are a collaborative network of entrepreneurs, we are very strong in support among peers; entrepreneurs have to be available some hours a month to another entrepreneur. We also have a more formal programme called E-Circle it consists of circles from 8 to 10 entrepreneurs that gather once a month for four hours to share some of the challenges they face and to create a containment network of peers for business, family/personal related topics. They are self-run; they learn techniques, methodologies, and roles. We try to make these circles such that there are no family members, friends, partners or competitors in them. We don’t know what they talk about but we monitor this dynamic of micro circles to make it more efficient for them.

Do you encourage/guide them in everything that has to do with business matters?

The programme Road Man is an action plan that helps people escape day-to-day activities, urgent matters and focus on strategic topics that they have to follow. A self-diagnosis is done to analyze each aspect of the business and to help establish priorities. Then together with a mentor of Enablis they go over the business plan, this process is repeated once or twice a year.

What characteristics must a business have to become part of this network?

The selection process is very simple. We are always collecting data of those who are interested. They fill out an online questionnaire that has questions to help us find out different characteristics of the person and the business. The next step is an interview and if they are compatible with the model they get in.

I understood that Argentina will be a main character in a gala that will take place in Canada, can you tell me something about that?

Yes. In Canada we have Enablis Foundation Canada. The sixth of November there will be a gala in Toronto that will serve as a fund-raiser for the global parts of this entity, it will help us find mentors, high executives of Canada that will commit to mentor an entrepreneur from our network. The main topic of this gala will be Argentina. It is one of the last chapters of the company and the first in the whole area so it is the first time the topic of the gala is not an African country. It is a nice occasion to promote what we do here. Guadalupe Antao Cortez, a representative form Enablis Argentina will be there and will explain how the project is benefitted from the help of a Canadian mentor. I will be the MC, Argentinian entrepreneurs are very interested in doing business there and creating more networks. There will be a tango show, an Argentinian menu and we are also taking presents from our entrepreneurs to our hosts. We are looking for partners that help us, here in Argentina or Canadians that have different activities in the country or that want to support the project in other countries of the area. 

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