Have you ever heard of Echoing Green? Now that about 600 startups have been part of our SUP family, we see more and more diversity on the focus each project decides to take. Some startups are more social, some try to increase your productivity, some are green, some are social, and so on. Founders seek opportunities according the fields their startups are diving into, which leads to an ever-evolving conversation about incubators, grants, and contest. Some of those, like Echoing Green, stand out easily.
Since Echoing Green´s applications for their 2013 fellowships are now open, we asked the team behind Regalii to share their experience as Echoing Green fellows for you. After an experience as broad and mind-opening like Start-Up Chile, here is a great step to take once you have decided to drive up and down the social entrepreneurship road.
Here is what Edrizio de la Cruz, co-founder at Regalii, had to say about his experience as an Echoing Green Fellow along his co-founder, Juan Maldonado.
I have always had an innate entrepreneurial drive. My first venture was running a guava stand in Santo Domingo, D.R. at age eleven. Today, my current venture is Regalii, which enables Latino immigrants to send gift cards via text messaging (a “Regalii”) to families in Latin America for supermarkets and stores where they already shop, thus providing a new form of remittance that’s free and easy.
Echoing Green is one of the world’s elite and most selective social impact organizations. It’s spawned Teach for America, City Year, Freelancer’s Union and even Michelle Obama was a fellow. I first heard of EG after I built the prototype for Regalii. I never thought of Regalii as a ‘social startup’. I just knew in my heart that I was solving a problem that I personally had when sending money to my own family. When I first arrived at the finals in Manhattan, I met so many uber impressive entrepreneurs from every corner of the globe, Zambia, Mali, Kenya and India. As I started talking to everyone I noticed a common thread. To all, this wasn’t an endeavor or a startup it was a calling, a passion, a purpose that started long before finalist weekend. Like me, they didn’t see themselves as ‘social entrepreneurs’, just entrepreneurs doing what they’re passionate about.
Today, I have the pleasure of sharing the name “Echoing Green Fellow” with 19 other amazing organizations. I built real friendships, real bonds, real ties with people who truly care about me. Both the fellows and EG staff always come through and provide real support and advice in terms of VC’s and team dynamics. It really helps to have a circle of folks that have experiences the same issues as you have. Its like having a board of advisors of 19 counselors.
The six months since becoming an EG fellow have been my most profound professional and personal learning experience. It seamlessly tied my ambition of entrepreneurship with my passion of empowering underserved minorities. I applied all of my experiences in finance and Wharton to a real-live case where I am directly impacted by its success or failure. This experience has taught me that social entrepreneurship is more of a personality trait and less of an occupation; it requires resilience, creativity and an incessant commitment that goes well beyond that needed for most professions.
Echoing Green´s application process is OPEN until January 7th. Hurry up!