Dear entrepreneurs:

 

I am writing to let you and other entrepreneurs who participated in Agora’s Accelerator program know that I will soon be stepping down as CEO of Agora Partnerships. It has been an incredible honor to get to know so many of you and to see the impact your ventures have made on so many people.

 

Today we are announcing that Cecilia Foxworthy, our current Chief Executive for Programs and Innovation, will be Agora’s next CEO, effective October 16th. Many of you may know Cecilia; she started as a Consulting Fellow, is an entrepreneur herself and will be a fantastic CEO to take Agora to it’s next chapter.

 

The Agora team is strong and ready to continue serving the cause of entrepreneurship across the Americas. I feel I have accomplished what I set out to do and am excited to take time to reflect before setting my sights on new challenges.

 

All of us in this community, wherever we are from, have a love and appreciation for Latin America. I gained my appreciation when I was 18 years old and lived for a year with a wonderful family in Puebla, Mexico. I never imagined how much that year would impact my life, or how the lessons learned from starting a business myself in Puebla in 1998 would lead me to recognize the critical role of entrepreneurs towards improving their communities.

 

When Ricardo Teran and I launched Agora Partnerships in 2005, we dreamed of leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs working to fight poverty and improve people’s lives. We felt that the world needed to develop it’s entrepreneurial muscle and better support it’s entrepreneurs, especially young people trying to bring an innovative solution that could improve society. If anything, this need has only grown as the world faces unprecedented challenges.

 

It has been a long and tumultuous entrepreneurial journey for me – one that is familiar to many of you who also ride the twisting roller coaster of entrepreneurship. Figuring out how to raise money to pay our team, how to measure and communicate our impact, how to build a Board of Directors and an investor and donor network have all been challenges that we have managed to overcome through adherence to our core values. In everything we do, we have tried to prioritize the needs of the entrepreneurs. We have tried not to waste your precious time, to tell you the truth, to advocate on your behalf to investors, to connect you with each other and with consultants who truly care about helping people make a difference. I know we have not always been perfect, but I can say that with very scarce resources we have tried our very best to live our values of agency, empathy, curiosity and perseverance – values that correlate with lives that make a difference and to this amazing community of entrepreneurs. The community you are a part of is something rare and inspiring in this world. I hope you remain involved to sustain, grow and leverage it.

 

The success of Agora- supported companies, which collectively today impact over 6 million lives in Latin America and the Carribean is a testament to your tenacity, vision and above all your entrepreneurial spirit. To put it in numbers, since 2011, the average company participating in Agora’s acceleration program had annual sales of just US$340,000 and were at a critical, delicate point in their growth. Today, 93 percent of these companies — 255 —  still exist and together they – YOU – have generated over US$400 million in sales. That’s $400 million helping to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals and heal the planet.

 

While I am proud of these results, the most meaningful part of my job has been getting to know you. Thank you for being on this journey with me and for inspiring me and our team to work harder and smarter to leverage resources to support you. Agora will always be a part of me and I will remain an active member of the Agora community and involved in the region in a variety of ways and so I hope our paths cross again. Until then, I ask that you remain involved and support Agora in the way that works best for you. Entrepreneurship is strong when we work together in solidarity and we gain power when we can speak with a unified voice. If you have ideas of how to improve Agora or support us, please tell us. Agora doesn’t work without strong participation and involvement from you – the backbone of our network.

 

Thank you for the opportunity to play a small role in your success and growth and to be able to work alongside you as you seek to build a better world. I can’t wait to see what you will continue to accomplish.

 

Un Fuerte Abrazo,

Ben Powell

Founder and CEO