The 2016 Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Fellows Program will bring 250 young leaders from Latin America and the Caribbean to the United States for an exchange program that will include internships and skills-building workshops. President Obama launched YLAI to build linkages between young leaders across the hemisphere and to expand opportunities for emerging entrepreneurs and civil society leaders. The program will begin on October 5 in Dallas and culminate with a summit in Washington, D.C. in early November.
Over the five week program, the fellows will learn and share their experiences in start-ups, small businesses, non-governmental organizations, and similar entities in cities throughout the United States and in partnership with community groups and U.S. universities. The participants will further develop their business or social venture plans through an entrepreneurship curriculum and workshops, and by working with their U.S. counterparts.
The 2016 YLAI Professional Fellows selection team received nearly 4,000 applications for this Presidential program. The 250 selected business and social entrepreneurs represent 35 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean and have demonstrated the energy of this generation to build stronger, more prosperous, and more secure communities throughout the hemisphere. Their areas of interest include agriculture, clean energy, consulting, e-commerce, education, entrepreneurship development and support, food and beverage, food security, health care, hospitality, LGBTI, marketing and branding, mobile applications, and women and youth empowerment. Read the fellows profiles on the website.
These are the five Uruguayans that are part of this Inaugural Class of the Program
Natalia Díaz Kopec is the Founder and CEO of La Casa del Hornero which will be the first sustainable bed and breakfast and multipurpose center in Uruguay. She previously worked at IBM in Montevideo and performed tasks related to payment and fraud detection. Natalia studied Tourism at ORT University and Business Administration at UDELAR.
Sofia Gruss is the CEO and Co-Founder of CAPITA, a company dedicated to the design and manufacture of high-end leather boots and shoes for men. She previously worked as a fashion stylist and producer for CALA. She participated in the Más Emprendedoras program in 2016, which was sponsored by Endeavor and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Sofia has a degree in Fashion Design from the Universidad ORT Uruguay.
Marjorie Spitalnik is the CEO and Founder of Tedybujo, a company that transforms kids’ drawings into plush toys. She started the company with her husband in 2013 and has a degree in Communications. Over the last three years, they have been working with cancer patients and are supported by local organizations. She was nominated in 2016 to be the Young Woman Entrepreneur of the Year for Uruguay.
Agustina Tierno is the founder of Bio-Observatories, an office specialized in infrastructure projects for areas of great natural interest intended for bio-ecological research, conscious sightseeing, and interpretative ecotourism. The company offers innovative solutions with a focus on sustainability. She is a professor at the Faculty of Architecture, Design, and Urbanism at the Universidad de la República. Previously she worked as a Project Manager at Carlos Arcos Arquite(c)tura, a Uruguayan-Brazilian architecture firm responsible for the design and construction of multievent buildings such as the Curitiba´s Stadium for the 2014 Brasil FIFA World Cup. She studied architecture at the Faculty of Architecture, Design, and Urbanism at the Universidad de la República.
Marcelo Wilkorwsky is the CEO and Co-Founder of Oincs, a mobile crowdsourcing platform that helps citizens move safely throughout their cities by sharing real-time information such as crimes, robberies, and traffic, thus enabling them to achieve a better city life experience. His startup became the most frequently downloaded app in Uruguay and reached the top 3 in 11 countries across Latin America. Oincs has received numerous international awards such as IDB Startup with Highest Growth Potential & Most Innovative Concept, IBM SmartCamp Competition Winner, Red Innova Challenge 2016 Winner, and World Bank and Wharton School Ideas for Action Winner. Marcelo holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Trading (Magna Cum Laude) from the Universidad de la Empresa (Uruguay), an MBA from Universitat de Barcelona, a Master’s in Digital Marketing from Esden Business School, and a Master’s in Finance from IEBS Business School.
YLAI, one of four programs within the Young Leaders Initiatives, is a part of President Obama’s commitment to empower young people around the world and ensure they have the tools, skills, and networks to tackle our shared global challenges.
The program is implemented with partner Meridian International Center.
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