The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

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    Engaged Communities

    By Design: From Teach for America to Startup

    Aug. 12, 2014, 6 a.m., Posted by Kiesha Moodie

    Teach For America entrepreneurial interns visit Knight Foundation in Miami. 

    There is something special about the intersection of innovation and education. A community that invests in ideas and has the vision to, as Steve Jobs said, “Think Different” about our students and their teachers is a community abundant with opportunity.

    In Miami-Dade County, we are at a place that I think of as “the nexus of opportunity.” Early last year I traveled to the headquarters of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Mo., with Teach for America to attend the inaugural Entrepreneurs United conference after recently accepting a position to lead the alumni movement in South Florida. I was excited to find out that my fellow alumnus Wifredo “Wifi” Fernandez was doing a presentation later that day on startup communities and his work co-founding The LAB Miami.

    After his presentation, Wifi and I connected over an extra-large pizza at a local diner that had Jamiroquai programmed as the Pandora station of choice. We began to talk about our shared experiences teaching in the classroom, the challenges we encountered and the need to innovate solutions that will meaningfully impact children and education. The conversation highlighted the unique opportunity to bridge his work in entrepreneurship with the work I do with Teach for America corps members and alumni talent cultivation and retention. We asked ourselves what it would take to give every one of our students across Miami-Dade the excellent education they deserve, and what working as a community and problem-solving means in our evolving and ever-connected world – particularly in Miami.  In short, we left the conference with a commitment to join forces, fill a need and create a solution, just like Miami’s entrepreneurs and makers do every day. 

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    Engaged Communities

    StartUp Cuba, one entrepreneur at a time

    Aug. 11, 2014, 2:31 p.m., Posted by Fernando González

    Photo: Cuban entrepreneur Yamina Vicente, Decorazón (2013 photo). Credit: Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA) on Flickr.

    If a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, perhaps a significant economic and social opening might gain footing in Cuba with the success of Sandra Aldama’s soap micro-business, or Marianela Pérez’s Pizzeria Nella.

    They — along with Niuris Higueras, owner of the Atelier restaurant, Yamina Vicente, who owns Decorazón, an event planning business, and Deciré Verdecia, owner of Decy Spa and Hair Salon, all located in or around Havana — are part of a generation of enterprising cuentapropistas, the self-employed, a budding sector in the Cuban economy that began to emerge after the government decided to allow private business ventures in 2008.

    The five businesswomen were part of “StartUp Cuba?,” a conversation at Miami Dade College Friday morning. The event was co-sponsored by the college’s Idea Center and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Initiatives, with the assistance of the Cuba Study Group.

    The Cuba Study Group initially brought the entrepreneurs to attend the annual convention of the Association of Studies of the Cuban Economy as well as other academic and professional activities related to their various lines of business in Cuba. It’s another sign of Miami’s importance as a center of entrepreneurship.

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    Engaged Communities

    Cuba empresaria: una emprendedora a la vez

    Aug. 11, 2014, 2:30 p.m., Posted by Fernando González

    Foto: Empresaria Yamina Vicente, Decorazón (2013). Credito: Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA) en Flickr.

    Si un camino de mil millas comienza con un paso, quizás una apertura económica y social en Cuba se puede afianzar con el éxito de la micro-empresa de jabones de Sandra Aldama o la Pizzera Nella de Marianela Pérez.

    Ellas — junto con Niuris Higueras, propietaria del restaurante Atelier; Yamina Vicente, dueña de Decorazón, un negocio de organizar eventos, y Deciré Verdecia, dueña del salón de belleza y gimnasio  Decy Spa y Peluquería, todos negocios ubicados en o alrededor de La Haba — son parte de una generación de emprendedores cuentapropistas, un incipiente sector de la economía cubana que comenzó a emerger en el 2008, luego de que el gobierno decidiera permitir empresas particulares.

    Las cinco mujeres de negocios fueron parte de “StartUp Cuba?,” (¿Cuba Nueva Empresaria?) una conversación en el Miami Dade College el viernes en la mañana. El evento fue co-patrocinado por el Idea Center y el Center for Latin American and Caribbean Initiatives, (Centro para Iniciativas en Latinoamérica y el Caribe) parte del Miami Dade College, con la asistencia del Cuba Study Group (Grupo de Estudio de Cuba).

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