Ruslan Carpio, 17, resides in Pocora, Costa Rica, a rural community close to EARTH University’s Guácimo Campus. He already knows very well what he wants in life, speaking eloquently about the future. He says that having been part of EARTH Futures’ Youth Entrepreneurship Program enabled him to dream and devise a plan to make his dreams come true. He feels ready to overcome any obstacle, act outside his comfort zone, envision bigger ideas, become an entrepreneur, and help others along the way.
The Youth Entrepreneurship Program – supported by the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica – ran from April through October, 2019. It consisted of 20 meetings with three key goals: (1) spurring entrepreneurship in rural areas, (2) empowering participants through skills building, and (3) igniting innovation and the search for solutions to solve community challenges. The 16 young people who completed the program enjoyed hands-on activities, educational tours, and mentoring sessions with staff and faculty from EARTH as well as partner organizations.
The program sought to enable each participant to generate a business idea, measure its viability, and actualize it through the tools learned in each session. “My project is a gluten-free bakery,” says Ruslan, one of the five recipients of US$500 in seed capital. The prize was awarded to the winners of the final pitch contest, in which they explained their business plans, how it addresses their community’s needs, and how their ideas could be executed.
Ruslan is now researching alternative flours for making bread. The other winners are also moving forward:
The other participants, too, are moving forward with their projects and ideas. They recognize that – if they fight for what they want – they can go anywhere, sow seeds, grow, and collect the fruits of their labor.
“The transformation these teens had is impressive because of the security and empowerment they achieved. We told them ‘you can do it’, and they were strong. They learned to see business opportunities that generate income and also impact,” says Karina Poveda (’13, Costa Rica), who managed the project alongside the teams at EARTH Futures and the University’s Community Development Program.
Ruslan says that, thanks to the Youth Entrepreneurship Program, he feels like he has planted a promising seed. And now, having completed the program, he is tending to it so that it can grow into a tree that is sturdy and vigorous – like him, like all of them.