Over the past few days here at Centro Global de Emprendimiento (CGE), in Lima, Peru, we  participated in this week’s World Economic Forum Latin America via livestream, along with a young audience ages 9-11 years old. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in panels in real time. We were especially eager to hear the call to action during the Innovation Ecosystem panel to “rebrand the region as a place open for business.”

We feel it is possible sooner than one might think, and here is why. In just seven weeks, we have seen thirty girls, ages 9-11, participate in an entrepreneurial training program for children we are implementing in Peru. In this program they have formed companies of their own and as of today, they are “open for business” and selling their products.

Over the past seven weeks we have seen these girls learn and create in ways they never have before. The learning has gone both ways. What we have learned from the students, we would like to share. They are three important reminders, that when acted upon collectively, we can more effectively make Latin America a global business destination.

Rise to the occasion

At the beginning of our program seven weeks ago, the girls felt overwhelmed by new business concepts and terminology in their second language. The curriculum, created by leaders from Silicon Valley and educational specialists, has been used effectively around the world. Though this was the first time being delivered in Latin America, we knew they could do it. We kept the professional bar high and they rose to the occasion. As an example, they learned how to pitch to investors, negotiate prices for shares, and keep track of their finances. All actions they once feared, they are now asking to do again.

Similarly, we encourage the forum members and participants to fulfill the commitments that were made this week. Although there is a road ahead of us all to enhance the innovation ecosystem and entrepreneurship in our current global context, our youngest audience this week has shown us it is possible to rise to the occasion now, while keeping expectations high.

Take Risks

Our students also reminded us of the importance of taking risks. Most of the responsibilities that come with entrepreneurship were new for them, whether they were applying for jobs or learning how to bring a product to market.

Similarly, as forum participants, we too can take risks. We can invest in the future earlier and faster­­­. We can jump into uncharted territory and be more open to implementing innovative approaches that create exponential returns in all parts of society.

Think bigger

A week ago in class, we were teaching the students how to market to customers. After hearing from a global marketing specialist, we brought up the idea that they could sell their products around the world, reminding the students of the seven billion people their companies could serve. One girl raised her hand and asked, “But how will we reach these people? Would we just throw our products up in the air?!” Two seconds later she provided her own solution and said, “Oh wait, we could sell them online!” Two minutes prior, she had conversed with a female entrepreneur who sells her products online to women and children. She addressed a global challenge with an even bigger opportunity.

In the same manner, we too can think bigger to address the challenges discussed this week in Latin America. The student did not have the solution right away, but used what she had learned by example from others around her.

This week at the World Economic Forum Latin America, whether one participated live or online, commitments have been made. If our team has seen how these three reminders — rise to the occasion, take risks, and think bigger — led to such positive impact on these thirty young girls, imagine what Latin America will look like when the program reaches thousands. Our youngest audience is holding us accountable. More importantly, these reminders can help us not only “rebrand Latin America as open for business,” but ensure the region thrives, on all levels, in a 21st Century Global Economy.

Author: Kate Mulder is President of the Centro Global de Emprendimiento (CGE), a global entrepreneurial training organization based in Lima, Peru.

Image: A hand is seen writing on a whiteboard REUTERS/Brian Snyder