San Francisco: A sanctuary for Latino startups
The Californian city is currently one of the most attractive for Latino entrepreneurs, as businesses in San Francisco have increased by 46% between 2012 on 2017
According to Stanford University, 20% of the Latino companies in the U.S. are in California. Since February 2018, there is an initiative that focuses on bringing Latino companies to San Francisco, according to Jolynn Vallejo, director of LatinSF, a region that could be explored more deeply by this community as the new headquarters for its businesses.
Leer en español: San Francisco: un santuario para startups latinos
This initiative, which began in 2014, has helped Latin American companies to open offices in San Francisco, such as BuildBinder, Cala, Maniak, Machina, and Tresalia in Mexico. Vallejo says that together with LatinSF "we have brought 6.5 million dollars of Latin American investment and 193 jobs have been created to date".
LatinSF is a public-private partnership promoted by the Mayor of San Francisco, as well as the Chamber of Commerce. According to Expansión MX, the mayor pays the salaries of those who make up the association and different sponsors cover Vallejo's trips around Latin America to invite startups to open their offices in Silicon Valley.
Initiatives to reduce costs for Latino entrepreneurs
Once the startups have been set up in San Francisco, LatinSF provides free of charge the contacts of accountants and lawyers to start operations. It also facilitates the contacts of local investors who have expressed their willingness to invest around a million dollars in startups. Entrepreneurs also receive consultancies and market intelligence services for free.
In addition, the association meets with the owners of the different workspaces to ensure that the price of inputs for Latino entrepreneurs is as close as possible to what they would pay in their country, this so that high prices do not impede the migration of entrepreneurs to San Francisco.
"A desk in a coworking center costs $650 to $1,600 in Silicon Valley, but we have agreements for $300", explains Vallejo. According to the director, "we are also looking for agreements with large companies to offer them housing."
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A "sanctuary" for migrant entrepreneurs
According to Entrepreneur magazine, "San Francisco is considered a sanctuary city, that is, it has moved away from zero-tolerance policies with the migrants who have President Trump in the eye of the hurricane." This is because, as Vallejo says, "this city offers special assistance to undocumented people. We do not report people who do not have papers. "
Thanks to these forms of support, the businesses created by Latinos in San Francisco have increased by 46% between 2012 and 2017, according to El País. The Mexican and Brazilian projects are the ones that have had the best reception, explains Vallejo. However, the association holds alliances with entrepreneurs in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Colombia.
In addition, the San Francisco mayor's office has other projects such as ChinaSF and SFAsia. This allows, according to the director, that "if a Latin American wants to open up to the Chinese market, we, through ChinaSF, connect him/her with Shanghai and begin to make a strategic plan".
Beyond the public sector
In addition to LatinSF, there are other initiatives that seek to support Latino entrepreneurship in San Francisco. At the beginning of 2017, Google opened a headquarters for the Google Developers Launchpad Space project to encourage digital entrepreneurship in emerging countries. There, the selected startups are trained in digital business and acquire contacts in Silicon Valley for six months. Several Latino companies have already participated in this project.
Among them are Platzi, a Colombian online education company, and the Mexican companies Econduce of electric motorcycles, Tizkka of fashion, Unima of medicine and Yop of purchases. In addition, projects such as Latino Startup Alliance and Latinas Think Big focused on female entrepreneurs in Latin America have been created in the city.
LatinAmerican Post | Sofía Carreño
Translated from "San Francisco: un santuario para startups latinos"