Conscious Venture Lab (CVL) is expanding its reach to Latin America through a partnership with Tecnológico de Monterrey’s (Tec) Eugenio Garza Lagüera Entrepreneurship Institute. The two entrepreneurship-support entities are teaming up to create a conscious venture accelerator program for mission-driven startups coming out of Mexico and Latin America.
Jeff Cherry, the founder of CVL, will train the trainers and bring best practices from CVL’s 16-week accelerator program to the prestigious Monterrey, Mexico-based university’s entrepreneurs. The goal is to grow the conscious capitalism movement, where mission and social impact are as important (if not more so) than making a quick million bucks for shareholders.
While the accelerator’s main benefits will be for companies in Mexico, through the power of relationships, Cherry hopes the partnership will also positively impact the Baltimore entrepreneurship ecosystem.
“As we continue to expand the relationship, we think that there will be opportunities for Baltimore companies that are looking to expand internationally,” Cherry told Technical.ly.
Joshua Hammerschlag, a professor and director of social entrepreneurship at Tec, will be one of the people spearheading the new accelerator. Hammerschlag is currently visiting Baltimore with another colleague, Nitzia Peña, to learn more about the Baltimore ecosystem and CVL’s work. Hammerschlag envisions cohorts in both Mexico and Baltimore running simultaneously, allowing companies to share insights, learn from each other and be part of an international community.
“They can see these relationships as a bridge — a way to access experts’ insights, new markets and new opportunities,” Hammerschlag said. “I think in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, looking at what’s happening in a different place, to solve the same problem you’re trying to solve in your region, is really important in the thinking process of how I can do things better. If we see this collaboration as a bridge between the two communities, we’re always gonna be able to take the best out of it.”
This partnership grew from Cherry’s connection to Raj Sisodia, a founder of the conscious capitalism movement and professor at Tec. Cherry helped consult on Sisodia’s books on the conscious capitalism philosophy back in 2003 and 2013. When the university wanted to create an accelerator to go along with the Conscious Enterprises Center it launched in 2021, Sisodia pointed Tec in Cherry and CVL’s direction.
It’s a prime example of relationships and collaboration leading to possible positive outcomes down the line.
Tec is one of the largest private universities in Mexico, with over 60,000 undergraduate students and 7,000 graduate students. It also greatly impacts Mexico’s entrepreneurship scene, with over 4,000 businesses graduating from its accelerators and business incubator system.
Cherry is already talking with Hammerschlag and Tec about how to engage the university’s large alumni network with CLV’s work in Baltimore, and vice versa. The fruits of that labor could be more international capital coming into the Conscious Venture Fund — a $50 million fundraising effort that Cherry currently has in the works.
“One of the things that we always talk about is the social capital that comes from being involved in an [accelerator] like this,” Cherry said. ” I think that for Baltimore-based entrepreneurs, this is another reason to apply to Conscious Venture Lab [accelerator] here in Baltimore: because now, we’ve been able to expand our network internationally. Entrepreneurs are always looking for, how do we break [into] the new markets, partnerships and customer relationships? How do we understand that? Now we have a natural ability for companies in the Baltimore market, if they have interests in Latin America.”
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-