Day 9: Santiago, Chile

A chilly, yet lovely Friday in Chile (see what I did there?) placed yet another notch in our belt on such a fantastic experience. The city of Santiago is truly amazing—the businesses, the people, the shops, markets and food are all brilliant. A fog rests on the city, disguising the Andes Mountains that hold Santiago and its 5 million people in a small bowl. We have only seen the foothills that are covered in autumn leaves of reds, oranges, and yellows. Luckily, we’ll get to spend time in the actual mountains in a few days.

The day started with a short bus ride filled with George Strait karaoke to our first business meeting at La Fundacion Chile, just east of the city. Fundacion Chile (FCH) acts as the ideal gatekeeper between entrepreneurs and the assets they need to begin. Founded by a joint venture of ITT Corporation, the United States, the Chilean government, BHP Billiton, and Escondita Mining, FCH provides connections to venture capitalists, investment brokers, and consultants that fresh startups need to be successful in the Chilean marketplace. FCH has helped create over 76 companies to date generating a total worth of $2 billion USD that contribute to the economy of Chile. Once companies are operating, FCH withdraws its participation to invest in the next business.

FCH helped ignite the salmon market in Chile and promote new industries to continue pushing the Chilean economy forward in global standings. The Santiago Climate Exchange is accessible to companies through FCH. Here, businesses are able to buy and sell carbon emission permits according to the levels they produce. Due to regulation, firms purchase additional permits to avoid penalties.

Fundacion Chile May 22 2015_AdjustedWe all found that FCH’s involvement in the energy sector to be very interesting. The northern region of Chile absorbs more solar energy than anywhere else around the globe. Through partnerships with renewable energy companies, FCH plans to install vast solar farms near the Atacama Desert. These farms will hopefully one day provide entire towns and cities with clean, renewable energy.

Next, we visited Sistema B: a firm that helps other companies seek ends other than profits. Known as B Corporations, these companies try to make the world a better place for everyone. If you imagine a line: one end has the goal to optimize social impact; the other strives for financial gain. On a middle point, B Corporations seek profitable business while working to promote social responsibility. Sistema B works to help firms establish the proper guidelines in their bylaws, maintain these standards, and consider long term stakeholder interests. Sustainability lies at the heart of B Corporations, and Sistema B looks for this principle in companies that want to change the world. To this point, 75 B Corporations have been established and continue to thrive in Chile. Students of the Rawls College of Business represent these goals, and that’s why Sistema B has become one of our favorites. The speaker, Tomas Gueneau, closed with something that we saw as profound: we should strive “not to be the best in the world, but the best for the world.”

SistemaB-May22 2015_Adjusted

The night goes on! We had a wonderful Chilean BBQ at the home of Aldo Gonzalez. Networking, and general enjoyment of company took place. We were also treated to fantastic wine tasting lessons from a professional. Let me tell you, this is a special experience.

It’s a bit chilly up in the mountains (low thirties), and so we all had to make a mall-stop earlier in the day to grab winter clothes. Tonight is Arren’s last night in Chile before he flies to Rome for a study abroad program. No better way to work off tasty BBQ than dancing and fun! Everyone on this trip is grateful for the connections in Chile and Lubbock, and we look forward to sharing our experiences with you all once back in Texas. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our posts about South America – more to come!

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