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04-May-2018 12:59 PM (GMT -5:00)

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SBNA La Idea Incubator Program
Entrepreneur Application Form

Please submit all answers in English. 

If you have questions, please contact InBIA staff at laidea@inbia.org. 

Funded and initiated by the United States Department of State, the La Idea Incubator Program is a powerful initiative focused on strengthening entrepreneurship and job creation across the Western Hemisphere. La Idea especially encourages trade and commerce between Central America and the United States. The program is a collaboration between the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA), the Small Business Network of the Americas (SBNA), CENPROMYPE, University of Texas San Antonio, and America's Small Business Development Center (ASBDC).

The La Idea Incubator Program provides a framework that allows entrepreneurs in Central America to directly connect with US-based InBIA Soft Landings designees. These designees provide advanced incubation services to guide their entrepreneurs' businesses towards revenue generation, investment successes, and capital-efficient operations. InBIA's Soft Landings designees have been validated through rigorous application and peer-review processes to ultimately serve foreign companies interested in expanding out their domestic markets. The Soft Landing sites selected for La Idea have been found as ideal matches for those Central American entrepreneur program applicants who are interested in expanding their businesses to the United States. 

Call to Apply to the La Idea Incubator Program

If you are an entrepreneur residing in Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, or Panama, and you are developing innovative solutions in the manufacturing, services, or food and farm industries, the U.S. Department of State and its partners encourage you to apply for the SBNA La Idea Incubator Program. La Idea recipients will have the unprecedented opportunity to connect with peer innovators, create lasting relationships with entrepreneurship centers in the U.S., learn to navigate the complexities of international trade, and explore best practices in sales and operations. Upon selection for La Idea, you will be sent an invitation letter to support your Visa application, should you not have one at the time you submit your application. Due to any rejected Visa applicants/other issues, La Idea program staff have the right to select alternate applicant for the program.

La Idea is currently seeking entrepreneurs who own or operate small businesses in the following sectors to apply: 
  • Manufacturing (launches November 2017)
    Includes either Central American small businesses that develop manufacturing equipment/processes, or that require heavy manufacturing operations to produce their products. 
  • Services (launches February 2018)
    Includes small businesses that either provided business to business solution services (i.e. financial, marketing, consulting, other professional services) or business to consumer solution services (i.e. travel, personal development, lifestyle consulting, etc.).
  • Food & Farm (launches June 2018)
    Includes small businesses that produce food and beverage products or provide agricultural/agriscience products or services. NOTE: Alcoholic beverages are not eligible. Illegal substances or food/beverage products containing illegal substances designated by United States law are ineligible as well. 

Please submit all answers in English. 

Application Call Schedules by Industry Cohort

Having an active Visa is not mandatory and will not impact the success of an application, but it will expedite the process. (Please see full selection criteria instructions and expectations of participants below.) 
  1. Applicants interested in the MANUFACTURING (NOVEMBER 2017) COHORT must submit complete applications by August 25, 2017 (11:59PM Eastern). Selected participants will be notified by email of their acceptance by October 1, 2017, so they have time to complete and fulfill necessary Visa and/or passport processing prior to attending their relevant bootcamp in the U.S.
  2. Applicants interested in the SERVICES (FEBRUARY 2018) COHORT must submit complete applicataions by December 8, 2017 (11:59PM Eastern). Selected participants will be notified by email of their acceptance by January 12, 2018, so they can have time to complete and fulfill necessary Visa and/or passport processing prior to attending their relevant bootcamp in the U.S. 
  3. Applicants interested in the FARM AND FOOD (JUNE 2018) COHORT must submit complete applications by May 4, 2018  (11:59PM Eastern). Selected participants will be notified by email of their acceptance by May 21, 2018, so they have time to complete and fulfill necessary Visa and/or passport processing prior to attending their relevant bootcamp in the U.S.

Please join us for an informational webinar about the Program on 

Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua or Costa Rica: 


We will be covering benefits of the program, eligibility requirements, how to apply, and more on this webinar.

Please register at:

Benefits of Participating in the Program

Up to 30 participants (a maximum of ten per industry cohort) will each receive a $2,500 USD stipend to cover travel to the United States to participate in a bootcamp as part of the La Idea Incubator Program. Each five-day bootcamp wil lbe hosted at a U.S.-based InBIA Soft Landings Incubator designee that specializes in that cohort's industry and offers unprecedented customer networking opportunities, mentors who are subject matter experts, useful market trend analysis, and additional relevant resources. Additionally, once participants return to their home countries after completing the bootcamp, they will receive more mentoring (especially from their local/national CENPROMYPE entrepreneur-serving partner) and other follow-up resources for the next six months. Participants will have access to the following resources during and after the bootcamp:
  • Two days of training from industry experts and legal counsel in general topics of conducting business in the U.S. such as incorporation of subsidiaries, import/export regulations, immigration laws, taxation, U.S. business cultures, federal and other resources to non-U.S. businesses, etc. (translation services will be available at all times) 
  • Three days of extensive, industry-themed curriculum that includes lectures, workshops and tours of specialized facilities relevant to each cohort (translation services will be available at all times) 
  • Access to live mentoring on business as well as industry-specific matters during and post-bootcamp, including assigned mentors from your nation after you return from the bootcamp 
  • Access to virtual business mentors through CENPROMYPE/InBIA partners around the world, and the use of InBIA's Exchange online social networking platform 
  • Both live and virtual networking opportunities throughout the entire program with potential customers, investors and other strategic partners
  • An opportunity to try out the facilities/resources of a Soft Landing facility that could support U.S. expansion in the future
  • Access to extensive translation services and/or support to assist with the communication and marketing of your product/service in the U.S. 
La Idea Soft Landing Sites will provide breakfast, lunch, necessary ground transportation, and coursework supplies. The travel stipend will cover the following: 
  • Airfare up to $1000
  • Lodging up to a total of $1000 over five days
  • Per diem (for dinner and snacks) up to $100 per day over five days (total of $500)
Participant Selection Criteria and Process
Participants of the La Idea Incubator Program are expected to comply with U.S. federal policies regarding foreign visitors. In addition to these important eligibility requirements, these entrepreneurs must meet all of the following critiera to apply for the program: 
  • A current, active tourist Visa is strongly encouraged, but not required for application; however, you MUST have a tourist Visa by the time you arrive for the bootcamp. 
  • Be a citizen of a Central American country (not eligible if a citizen or Permanent resident of the United States or other countries outside of the eligible Central American countries)
  • Be either a founder or majority owner of the small business
  • Have already incorporated the business in your native country
  • Be able to speak, read and write in English semi-fluently (translation services will be available at all Soft Landing sites)
  • Have a company that offers a product or service that fits the description of one of the cohort industries outlined above
  • Be able to produce and work through exercises to refine your sales plan, manufacturing and/or scale-up plan, and other critical business model elements by the time you participate in the bootcamp (translation service at the Soft Landing site will assist with these documents)
Applicants with all of the above criteria, who also articulate a clear business proposition and can best use the program to pursue U.S. market opportunities, will be the strongest candidates. A selection committee of several U.S. Department of State, Soft Landing site operations staff with expertise in the cohort industries, ASBDC and InBIA staff, will review the applications submitted and select participants. 

Participant Commitment Expectations
  • Be willing to attend the entire five days of the bootcamp while giving all attention and focus to the curriculum
  • Follow your Visa stipulations and return immediately to your home country after the bootcamp has concluded 
  • Be willing to fulfill short evaluations after each workshop/lecture/other programming elements for the entire bootcamp 
  • Be willing to provide the following information to Soft Landing site staff at the conclusion of the bootcamp and up to six months after the bootcamp (by submitting this application, you agree to provide this information):
    • Connections to customers, investors, or other partners as a result of the bootcamp
    • Mentors obtained and the connections they broker
    • Loans, grants or capital obtained
    • Revenue growth
    • Number of employees hired
    • Cost reductions in operations and/or manufacturing as a result of training
    • Other success metrics and/or anecdotes about how the program has assisted your company

Please submit all answers in English.