There are numerous reasons to come to Buenos Aires. There's the Argentine tango, the nightlife, the architecture, the people, and as much beef as you'd ever want to eat. I fell in love with the city the first day I arrived 3 years ago. And I've found it difficult to pry myself away ever since.
But these days, there are plenty of other great reasons, for entrepreneurs in particular, to come to this Latin-American hot spot. The city government is working hard to establish itself as a global startup hub.
Many of Latin-America's tech unicorns are from Argentina, such as Globant, Mercado Libre, and Despegar.com. And the city is hungry to create an environment that is even more conducive for founders to build thriving businesses there.
Andy Freire, Minister of Modernization, Technology & Innovation within the city's government explains how they are going about doing it:
Buenos Aires is now strengthening and powerfully fostering the creation and scale up of businesses with active public policies. These policies include lightening bureaucratic procedures, creating fiscal incentives, facilitating access to capital, providing mentoring and training, expanding a culture of entrepreneurship, while changing the paradigm and the cultural acceptance of failure, within an array of initiatives to facilitate the start and scale-up process.
Here are just a few of those programs and policies Buenos Aires city government has put in place in the hopes of wooing more founders to the bustling city.
It's a 12-month program in which participants will receive equity-free seed funding between $10-$30 thousand US dollars, in addition to access to mentors, consulting services, and for some, even a free coworking space.
The ten verticals the program covers are: Design, social entrepreneurship, technology, science, tourism, gastronomy, environment, media, agro-tech, and audio visual.
Here's Startup Buenos Aires founder Lisa Besserman's view on the impact the program will have:
IncuBAte will not only enhance the existing level of entrepreneurship within the city, but also build stronger bridges leading to Argentina. I'm confident the program will attract more global startups, investment and activity to the region of Latin America.
The pilot program of 30 entrepreneurs will start April 2018, and is open to applicants 18 and up. Each future cohort will fund 100 startups. You don't have to be an Argentine citizen to apply. Applications for initial cohort are open until December 28, 2017.
2. Entrepreneur's Law
The legal aspects of setting up a business can be daunting for many. And the anxiety level for completing this task can grow exponentially at the thought of registering a business in another country.
Earlier this year, the Argentine government passed legislation making it easier than ever for founders to start their businesses there. Now, entrepreneurs can fast-track their company registration, and set their businesses up online within 24-hours.
Other benefits of the law include increased access to public financing, tax incentives for investors, support for 13 accelerator programs, as well as enabling founders to raise money via crowdfunding.
3. Entrepreneur Academy
To be effective at growing any business, entrepreneurs need knowledge. They need to be great at their craft in addition to knowing how to run the business part of their business.
Buenos Aires City Government recognizes this and has established training programs to teach founders what they need to know. Santiago Sena, Director General of Entrepreneurship, notes the cities commitment to business education:
Buenos Aires City Government promotes short and long-term initiatives to develop entrepreneurship skills and business training.
The Entrepreneur Academy training programs to facilitate this include both online courses, as well as others in a classroom setting.
4. Finance Programs
A big barrier to entry for many founders is getting access to the capital needed to fund the dream.
To alleviate this burden, Buenos Aires City Government is also offering founders assistance in getting funding. This includes helping entrepreneurs with their pitches, facilitating workshops with angel investors, and providing support in raising investment rounds.
5. VosLoHaces Contest
To encourage innovation, rather than waiting for good ideas to just appear, the city has also launched innovation contests. The goal is to encourage people to solve social, environmental, and cultural challenges within their communities.
First place winners receive up to $150 thousand Argentine pesos in seed money, scholarships, and programs. Second and third place winners get $100 thousand and $50 thousand pesos worth of seed money, scholarships, and programs respectively. Submissions are open until September 8.
I tell everyone I meet how much I love Buenos Aires, and encourage them to visit. And as an entrepreneur, there's never been a better time to come enjoy this romantic city while also launching and growing your business.
When you get here, let me know. Empanadas are on me (gluten-free of course).
And together we can enjoy building thriving businesses in the center of a global startup hub.