Interviews with purpose-driven leaders who are making a meaningful impact in their communities, industries, and around the world.
TELL US, WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
My name is Pablo Santaeufemia and I am the CEO and co-founder of Bridge for Billions, a company that creates, designs, and manages online entrepreneurship programs globally.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
I am a mechanical engineer and, after completing my master’s degree at Carnegie Mellon University in Technology Innovation Management thanks to a scholarship from Fundación Rafael del Pino, I fully exposed myself to entrepreneurship and innovation methodologies. The idea of Bridge for Billions arises from combining all my international experiences, with business and entrepreneurship frameworks from an MBA, and with topics such as artificial intelligence, design thinking, human-centered design, and other design methodologies.
That is why, being very aware of the value of the education I have received and having been trained in entrepreneurship and innovation methodologies, I decided that I should share them with other entrepreneurs; entrepreneurs who understand local problems very well and have business solutions for them, but who still need a boost to get them up and running. So, at the age of 24, I founded Bridge for Billions.
As an engineer, I have always been interested in working for solutions that solve problems that truly matter to the majorities.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Our mission is to provide access to entrepreneurs to training and mentoring, so the entrepreneurship ecosystems are more inclusive and meritocratic.
Most entrepreneurs do not have access to the resources (mentors, training, financing, contacts with investors) that I saw in universities like MIT or Stanford, where hundreds of start-ups are “manufactured” every year. I have been very fortunate to study through scholarships since the age of 16 and my personal goal is to be able to use technology to promote economic growth and thus democratize access to basic resources for those who need them most.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
Bridge for Billions has already developed more than 125 online programs with public and private organizations that seek to improve society through innovation and has supported 1,600+ entrepreneurs across 70 countries, becoming a leader thanks to its fully digital and scalable model. One of these programs is The Leap, managed and sponsored by us for entrepreneurs who do not have access to any other program.
What is even more impressive for me is the indirect impact of each entrepreneur within their own community by solving problems that truly matter.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS WORK?
A lot of people, but probably the one who inspired me the most was Paul Polak, one of the first American social entrepreneurs who founded iDE and helped farmers to build microenterprises. Also, the founder of Acumen, Jacqueline Novogratz, who has invested in innovative projects in order to build social enterprises. And of course, the founder of Ashoka, Bill Drayton, who created the largest network of social entrepreneurs.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
My vision is that being able to innovate and launch a business that solves a determined problem is no longer a luxury. I want to give the opportunity to anyone who has a solution to bring it to the market through a truly meritocratic and inclusive process. The big dream is that Bridge for Billions becomes the norm within the entrepreneurship ecosystem, not necessarily Bridge for Billions itself, but the support, mentoring, and training, so they are more inclusive.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
The entrepreneurship ecosystems of today reward the ones who are the loudest and not the ones who have the most impact. Impact in terms of the number of entrepreneurs that you are supporting, the number of businesses launched or the number of jobs created. We are missing the right indicators in these ecosystems and we are not focusing on what is important. I think that is a challenge still to be resolved.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
We are not doing this work alone. We would not be able to do this work without our team, but also without our network of mentors. They are more than 850 professionals that through the last five years have decided to support and guide our entrepreneurs to a better port.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR WORDS OF INSPIRATION TO SHARE?
This quote from Jacqueline Novogratz: “Nothing important happens in life without a cost.”
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
First, we need to accept the reality: the entrepreneurship ecosystems are not meritocratic, they are not that efficient, and they are not inclusive. In order to change this reality, we need to accept it first. There is less support than it is necessary to tackle the huge innovation and job creation gaps our economies have.
And then, if you are an organization, a corporation, a university, or a foundation, entrepreneurship is the way you can grow, the way your organization can transform, and we can be your ally and build bridges. If you already have a program, we can make it bigger, stronger, and more encompassing. If you do not have one, maybe it is time to start building bridges so you can support innovators in your sector.
And if you are a professional, you can help innovators to make it to the other side, so they can continue their journey and you can become a crucial part of it.
Orapin Marketing + Public Relations helps purpose-driven businesses increase awareness and become sought-after for their work and expertise. We believe those who are working to make a difference in the world deserve to be known, supported, and celebrated. If you would like to be featured in INSPIRED IMPACT™, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.