In the spotlight: Some prominent women entrepreneurs from Peru
Latin America has been in the news revealing what it can do in terms of innovation; and Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, and Colombia are illustrations of ecosystems with world-class entrepreneurs.
And, Peru’s startup ecosystem has come a long way and unicorns have made their presence felt. Undoubtedly, this is due to an appropriate convergence of institutional support, venture capital activity, backed by the creativity and passion of the talented founders. And, with each passing year, more and more Peruvian startups are reaching out to renowned accelerators.
Women entrepreneurs in Peru are determined, driven and hard working.
Here’s presenting some Peruvian entrepreneurs that are going to change the region and the global universe.
> Mery Neli Salazar Pedro, Owner, Arte Yanesha Amazónica
Mery Neli Salazar Pedro is a woman entrepreneur in Peru, who is keeping her Amazonian heritage alive today. She has been running her family’s artisan business – Arte Yanesha Amazónica, from her home in Peru; and her family – husband, three of their five children and three other women work in the business. They produce clothing, accessories, and homewares; and the speciality is that all are with Amazonian designs.
Originally from the Loma Linda la Laguna community in the Amazon, she moved to the Peruvian capital Lima for high school. When the business started, finance was a challenge, and to get a loan was complicated. COVID-19 has also presented a major problem for her business, but she was determined to survive. Then quite in tune with the times, the business diversified into selling face masks.
> Nilda Callanaupa, Master Weaver & Founder, Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco
Learning to spin and weave with her friends, as a young woman in Chinchero – was the starting point of Nilda Callanaupa’s story. She recognized there was a rich history behind the art of her people, but could see that this was slowly fading out. So, she took charge to found the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco (Centre for Traditional Textiles of Cusco). And, she also become an award-winning author, international speaker and expert in Cusqueñan textiles. The fact that this traditional art form has been preserved is really thanks to her perseverance.
> Larissa Arias, Co-founder, Manzana Verde
Larissa Arias, Co-founder and COO founded the company with Carlos Andrade who is the co-founder and CEO of Manzana Verde, a wellness e-commerce with operations in Peru and Mexico. It was born with the idea of making it affordable and accessible for people to acquire healthy habits, but who followed a sedentary lifestyle.
He met her at the University of Piura (UDEP), in northern Peru. Incidentally, Manzana Verde was called the “best Peruvian startup” by Seedstars. Recently, they raised a $1.5 million seed round. During the past two years, Manzana Verde went from delivering 100 to 6000 meals per day. They already are present in five different cities between Mexico and Peru, and Carlos and Larissa are planning the expansion to the rest of the Latin American region.
> María del Mar Vélez, Founder & CEO, Crack The Code
Originally from Colombia, María del Mar Vélez is the founder and CEO of Peru-based Crack The Code – an edtech startup that seeks to transform education in Latin America through online classes for children on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
In modern-day Latin America only 55% of the tech positions are covered, so Crack The Code proposes to combat technology illiteracy. Crack The Code has 1,300 active students in 21 countries, and recently raised $2.7 million from Kaszek; and this is the first investment of Kaszek Ventures in a Peruvian startup.
Coming from an entrepreneurial family, she happens to be the sister of David Vélez, the founder and CEO of Nubank, the largest fintech bank in Latin America. After studying economics and business at New York University, she worked at Peruvian Development Group, a NY-based, Peru-focused private equity fund, and after graduating from college, she worked for six years as an analyst and associate at JP Morgan in the Asset Management & Alternative Investment groups. Against this background, she moved to Lima and founded Crack The Code.
> Anais Cisneros and Michelle Fischman, Co-founders, Amela
Anais Cisneros and Michelle Fischman are the Co-founders of Amela, a community of female founders in Spanish-speaking Latin America. The company is involved in helping female founders with funds mapping and making introductions. They also provide a mentor pool that assists them in all areas like – with their pitch, their deck, their data room, and their business model.
Although their main objective is to connect female founders, they try to focus on early-stage founders because that’s where they believe they can really add value.
Besides, Amela organizes meetups every month to build community. Already Amela has over 100 female founders from all over Latin America (43% from Mexico and the rest from all over the region).
Apart from their own setup, they also have their fingers in other pies. Anais also works at TechTree (a career networking platform), aiming to assist developers from across the world to get mentored, grow a network, and experience a better recruitment experience, as Chief of Staff and Head of Operations. Michelle also works at Nazca, an early-stage Venture Capital firm that provides empowerment to founders in Mexico and Latin America.