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JoinUpz: A Collaboration Model to Support Young Latin-American Business Innovators

Microsoft’s YouthSpark program is looking to fuel ideas among young innovators. When the InnovateForGood (I4G) Conference took place in Mexico, it brought together two like-minded innovators.

When Javier Ogarrio (Guatemala) and Romina Castellini (Uruguay) met at the conference, they realized their combined talents and passion for collaboration was the perfect foundation for a new business venture—one that would inspire young Latin American entrepreneurs like them to pursue their business ideas.

I4G is the opportunity to help young people build the skills and knowledge they need to imagine and realize their futures by innovating for good. By harnessing, synthesizing and sharing all of our Microsoft expertise through the Innovate for Good events and an online community, we provide young people with the tools, resources, knowledge, support and connections to move their ideas closer to reality. The I4G events invite young leaders to create social responsibility projects to make an impact in their communities and be the spark of change.

Ogarrio comes from a technology background. Castellini is a community organizer. Together, they created JoinUpz—a social media crowdsourcing model that seeks to provide mentoring, access to funding, collaborators and contributors, to youth seeking to kick start their businesses. The team worked on the concept during the I4G event and presented it to the I4G community during the Seed Funding Challenge, earning high marks from participating peers and organizers.

While crowdsourcing entrepreneur models are not new, JoinUpz seeks to engage audiences with the right cultural approach to help solve the youth underemployment challenge in the region. As Ogarrio explains: “in developed countries, disruptive entrepreneurism and innovation can be common and there is an ecosystem to support it. Around Latin America, we see a different environment with traditional entrepreneurship still dominating and innovative youth lacking access to the right resources.”

JoinUpz will convene all the different audiences that contribute to a projects’ success: talent, funders, mentors and collaborators. Because of its Latin American focus, it will look to engage region wide talent and help offer inspiration for new projects.

As winners in the I4G Seed Funding Challenge, JoinUpz creators were awarded with the participation in a 2-month training to equip them for success. Today, they are at work building the platform using multimedia software from Microsoft.

According to Castellini, JoinUpz has already attracted investors and project incubators willing to bet on the initiative. Some partnerships with successful business events and organizations that support startups are in the works as JoinUpz readies to launch in a couple of months.

In addition to boosting success chances for Latin American young entrepreneurs, JoinUpz also aspires to promote a culture of solutions to solve education and achievement gaps. In Latin America there are many young groups building up their impressive ideas. Romina and Javier’s example demonstrates there are possibilities for young population to foster better conditions for themselves and their countries.

Romina and Javier are the spark of change!

"In developed countries, disruptive entrepreneurism and innovation can be common and there is an ecosystem to support it. Around Latin America, we see a different environment with traditional entrepreneurship still dominating and innovative youth lacking access to the right resources." Javier Ogarrio, Guatemala.
"Javier and I had the idea to create opportunities for young entrepreneurs. We wanted to make tools available for the development of any project based in our own experience… What better way to do it in a community with other entrepreneurs and investors, generating contacts, contributing to ideas and suggestions, and share experiences." Romina Castellini, Uruguay.

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Romina's Interview I4G