Chile is country well-known for its entrepreneurial spirit and start-up-friendly government policies. But one U.S.-based businesswoman got to experience this side of Chile firsthand when she spent seven weeks in the country working alongside Chilean entrepreneurs as an Ernst & Young Americas Corporate Responsibility Fellow.
Tamil Chellaiah, an advisory manager in Ernst & Young’s Louisville, Kentucky office, recently recounted her once-in-a-lifetime trip to Chile on the website Accounting Today. The young businesswoman was selected to come to Chile as part of an Ernst & Young fellowship program that matches experienced American business consultants with promising Latin American entrepreneurs free of charge. Nearly 70 start-ups in Latin America have improved their businesses thanks to the program.
Chellaiah was paired up with Chilean business Prey, a free anti-theft program used for tracking stolen laptops, phones and tablets. Prey was launched in 2009 by Universidad Católica graduate Tomás Pollak and Universidad de Diego Portales graduate Carlos Yaconi, and recently received the title of “Chilean Small Business of 2012” by the Chilean government.
When Chellaiah arrived, Prey leaders were preparing to raise capital and expand their market share. Chelliah helped the company by performing a company valuation, risk assessment, strategic analysis, product-pricing assessment and a competitor analysis – in addition to sharing helpful tips on pitching to investors and managing risk to enable their growth strategy.
In return for her services, Chellaiah got to experience Chile’s unique business environment and culture. She greatly appreciated how friendly and kind her Chilean neighbors were.
“I lived in a standard apartment, shopped at the local grocery store, rode public transportation every day and found my way around, despite my weak sense of direction and broken Spanish–thanks to the unforgettable kindness of locals,” she wrote.
At the conclusion of her seven weeks of working alongside Chile’s business community, Chellaiah headed back to the U.S. very impressed, and optimistic about Chile’s future.
“I think it’s very possible that Chile could be home to the Silicon Valley of Latin America,” she wrote on her blog.