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How entrepreneurs are building resilience in their communities
February 1, 2022

By Shannon Courtney

Developing the skills to be resilient is essential in order to be a strong leader, to recover from setbacks and to adapt to whatever challenges come your way. Communities, economies and trade benefit from strong businesses that have learned to weather unexpected challenges. Learn how other #YLAIStrong entrepreneurs are building their resilience and strengthening their businesses in the face of adversity.

Renewing Ecuadorian communities after a natural disaster

2016 YLAI Fellow Marco Mendieta works hard to develop the small-business community of Ecuador and regenerate the economy following the country’s devastating earthquake of 2016. He is the founder of Misión Ecuador,, created to benefit entrepreneurs and owners of small- and medium-sized businesses in the country, starting in the province of Manabí after the earthquake of April 16, 2016.

With the support of the U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Ecuador, Misión Ecuador was created and 100 Ecuadorian entrepreneurs and small-business owners were selected and awarded scholarships. In 2019, the program was expanded in each of Ecuador’s provinces, providing “mini master’s degrees” in entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership.

He encourages YLAI Network members that “having a tough skin when people say no, continuing to learn how to make yourself stronger, and not giving up are my keys to success. You do not need to be at 100% every day, especially when there is a large setback. You can take some time to look for new resources and take time to develop your ideas, and find that you will bounce back stronger having done so.”

How a Jamaican financial educator perseveres through adversity

2018 YLAI Fellow Kenishia Mais, founder of ThrivingDollars, a financial education platform designed to empower young adults with the tools and resources they need to make smarter decisions, faced a lot of adversity on her path to financial success and entrepreneurship. She was committed to finding ways to empower women to become financially literate and independent from the financial trappings of abusive, unequal relationships.

Kenishia’s approach to facing adversity is to focus on the phrase: “Pivot: What’s the next best step?” to herself over and over. Doing this is a sort of mental exercise that prevents her from panicking and instead allows her to think of potential solutions. “If I can keep moving, I can maintain control. Missteps make for great lessons in learning how to thrive.”

Persistence for success in the technology industry in Bolivia

2017 YLAI Fellow Andrea Puente Salazar has had her share of obstacles on her way to entrepreneurial success. By persisting through those obstacles, building strong relationships with like-minded individuals and consistently increasing her knowledge, she has founded multiple successful ventures and is inspiring others in Bolivia to do the same.

Her two companies, Kumi Solutions and Panal Fresh, are focused on providing ways to utilize technology to better people’s lives. Kumi Solutions is dedicated to giving startups, small businesses and owners ways to use their data to make strategic decisions, manage their businesses and find opportunities to grow and optimize their processes. Panal Fresh connects farmers with food suppliers and markets in Latin America to provide access to fresh produce for consumers from their homes. With the global pandemic, she had to adjust her platform and provide resources to her partners to persevere through the crisis.

Her advice to YLAI Network members on overcoming obstacles is to “assume people are willing to help and ask for help and support when you need it. Entrepreneurs are all often struggling with the same issues, and because of this, they are willing to help others overcome these challenges together. Collaboration is at the cornerstone of entrepreneurship in my experience, and you need to build a support system with wise and trusted voices to keep you motivated.”

Learn about more resources on resiliency at #YLAIStrong, and connect with like-minded entrepreneurial peers on the YLAI Network Facebook group!