Could you briefly share you academic and professional background?
Born and raised in Colombia, my work experience has been in the financial industry at Bancolombia, the main financial institution in Colombia. During my time as regulator manager, I helped shape Colombia microfinance regulation and on my role as product manager I developed a lower cost collateral product for SMEs. I hold a Law and Economy degree from Universidad de Los Andes and has a Master in Financial Law (LL.M) from Georgetown University. In Vanderbilt, where I am a second-year MBA, I am heavily involved with social entrepreneurship as a member of the Board of Directors of the Turner Family Center for Social Enterprises.
What was the path that led you to get involved with the TFC?
In my work experience I have had the opportunity to work in social causes from the point of view of a business. I really think that the way to tackle the most difficult social problems is through a business approach. This will ensure sustainability in the long term. TCF gave me the opportunity to peruse my passion during my time in Vanderbilt while learning more about management. To get involved I just spoke with Mario Avila, TFC director, and expressed my interest in social enterprises and asked him about the different opportunities of the Center.
How was your experience as a TFC fellow this summer? Please share some details regarding the project you were working on.
During the summer I worked with Pomona Impact in Guatemala. Pomona Impact is a social investment fund created five years ago to invest not only in profitable companies but in ones with a measurable social impact in Centro America. Pomona has a portfolio of 16 companies such as fair-trade coffee growers (RUNA), indigenously made luxury handicraft (Wakami) and microfinance companies (Credilikeme).
As Pomona Impact is still a small company, I had the chance to work on different projects during the summer. One of my tasks was to help the team assessing the financials of proposed investment, which allowed me to sharpen my financial skills. I also worked in defining the strategy for Pomona’s Co-working space Impact Hub in Antigua, Guatemala. Finally, I created a business plan and a financial model for a Business Incubator, one of Pomona’s strategic future investment.
What advice would you give to people who hope to pursue a TFC fellowship?
If you are passionate about social enterprise you should consider the TFC as an option. The fellowship at the Turner Family Center will allow you to pursue this path, even if the companies you are interested in do not have a formal internship process. This is a great way to create a network in the social enterprise environment and direct your career towards your passion.