During a spot on National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States, entrepreneurs and experts alike agree that Chile is providing the magic recipe for small businesses that many international citizens just can’t find in the land of Silicon Valley.
Australian citizen Andrew Nicol told NPR, “I’m basically leaving New York to come to Santiago to start a business that targets New York consumers, just because it’s so much easier to do it from here.”
Nicol studied at a U.S. law school, but still found the U.S. immigration system too exclusive for him to stay in the United States and start his company, EveryRack. After winning a grant from the celebrated Chilean government program Start-Up Chile, Nicol moved his company south.
“There’s so much more support from the government here,” Nicol added.
The next interviewee put the same sentiment in different words.
“Chile has been taking advantage of American stupidity,” Vivek Wadhwa said.
Wadhwa is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley, where he studies immigrant entrepreneurs and their effects on the economy.
Speaking about Start-Up Chile, Wadhwa said, “There are 150 companies here [in Santiago] right now. Amazing, amazing companies in almost every area you can think of.”
As NPR journalist Wendy Kaufman pointed out, “Immigrant entrepreneurs, particularly those with highly specialized skills, are in high demand worldwide.”
Rob Atkinson, head of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, agreed. “These are scarce talents, and they’re valuable talents. And they end up leading to the creation of a lot of growth; companies that end up hiring thousands and thousands of workers,” Atkinson said.
It seems Start-Up Chile is on the right path. The program grants US$40,000 to entrepreneurs who bring their fledgling business to Chile for six months. The second round of applications closed earlier this month, and the winners will be announced in late 2011.