How one networking dinner changed Academy of Entrepreneurs’ future forever
78% Of Startups Say That Networking Is Vital To Their Entrepreneurial Success
I’ve always absolutely loved networking, meeting new people and learning new things, that’s why when David Landers, the executive Director of Austrade in 2017 invited me to the ALABC (Australia Latin America Business Council) end of year gala dinner I straight away said “YES”!
Two years later, at that same event we won the ALABC Business Excellence Award – Education.
A very friendly gentleman sitting at our dinner table at the Gala Award night came to talk to me. Turns out he was Marcelino Aviles, the Ambassador of Panama. He shared his passion for education and international studies and was curious about the Academy of Entrepreneurs as he too was passionate about entrepreneurship, education and social impact.
To my surprise he asked me for a selfie (I absolutely admire future focused tech-savvy leaders) and we connected on LinkedIn.
24hrs later I sent a little follow up message, and we locked in a time for a meeting. During the meeting he proposed the opportunity to open a small class inside Ciudad Del Saber (Singularity University equivalent in Panama).
We threw some ideas around and then a few months went by, and << BOOM >> the world went into lockdown.
We re-connected with the Ambassador of Panama and pivoted our plans into an online program.
Unemployment in Panama had grown by 25% and informal work had increased by 55% in 2020 (according to Forbes Centroamerica). If a qualified person with years of experience couldn’t find a job, how are students with no work experience going to get a job? So we decided to run an entrepreneurship program exclusively for Year 12 High School Students and Teachers.
The Academy of Entrepreneurs team created an online course on “How To Transform Any Idea into a Business”.
We launched it in September and had the honor to have the Deputy Minister of Education; Zonia Gallardo de Smith, the Foreign Minister; Erika Mouynes, The International Relations Director of the Ministry of Education; Elio Abner, the Australian Ambassador to Mexico; Remo Moretta and Ambassador of Panama in Australia; Marcelino Aviles .
The classes were taught for 8 weeks 100% online and in Spanish followed by two weeks of pitch preparation and a Final Pitch on December 10th, 2020.
It was impressive to see how the Panamanian High School teachers were extremely engaged and participated week-by-week and used and integrated our extra curricular weekly activities into the school curriculum.
This program successfully contributed to the COVID-19 economic recovery and to foster Latin American – Australia connections via Entrepreneurship / online trade between Australia and Panama.
Why am I sharing this story?
Because this AMAZING & IMPACTFUL project would have NEVER happened if I had not attended ALABC’s event in late 2017.
Businesses are built on relationships!!!!!!
And to build relationships you need to network and use your emotional intelligence to build meaningful and sustainable partnerships that create a positive impact.
What is my point?
Please please please network-network-network.
Meet people. Listen to their needs. Collaborate. Give back. Connect your connections to your other connections. It will make you feel good, learn new things, open up new opportunities, and make your business succeed.
And yes, networking is FREE and the opportunities you will get are priceless.
Who would I like to thank?
I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart;
- David Landers (ex Executive Director of Austrade) for giving us the introduction to ALABC.
- Marcelo Salas (CEO of ALABC) who believed in us when we were a young startup and introduced us to so so so many world leaders and growth opportunities.
- Marcelino Aviles (Ambassador of Panama), for connecting us to several Ministers, a Unicorn and Social Impact Organizations that made our project a great success.
- Harold Lucero (Serial Entrepreneurs and Board Member of ALABC) for encouraging us to join ALABC and apply for the award
I would also like to thank Miguel Mudbidri, International Trade expert and entrepreneur, and Andres Garzon, Business Growth Coach and Entrepreneur, for judging and mentoring in the Final Pitch Day!
And a super congratulation to the winners Lorena González and Faryth Staley from the Colegio bilingüe María Auxiliadora, the co-founders of “Reciplas”, a plastic recycling startup that turns plastic bottles into bricks and used to build affordable, environmental friendly, and sustainable houses in 3 days and schools in 7 days.
We are extremely proud with the results and aim to expand this project in 100+ schools across Australia and the world.
“Our Mission has always been to accelerate social impact, so this is just the beginning.”
– Paula Mills, CEO of the Academy of Entrepreneurs
We have since then delivered this program to schools, universities, associations and not-for-profit organisations and have impacted around 100,000 learners.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can discuss how we can transform your students into “job creators, not job seekers” and create an impact in your school and community.
Thank you for reading this article. I super hope it inspires you to network more so you can grow your business & impact.