Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI)

What is YLAI?

The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) empowers innovative leaders to build their capacity to launch and advance their entrepreneurial ideas and contribute to social and economic development in their communities.

For one month, YLAI participants referred to as “Professional Fellows” meet with like-minded companies, work alongside and are mentored by a local professional counterpart, and develop specific action plans to carry out upon return to their home countries. YLAI Professional Fellows build networks, linkages, and lasting partnerships to attract investments and support for their entrepreneurial ventures.

In 2016, UCCD worked with ten YLAI Professional Fellows from various Latin America and Caribbean countries by connecting them with host businesses and nonprofit organizations to provide a mentorship.  Additionally, the Professional Fellows met once a week for workshops focused on key aspects of entrepreneurial activity and skills needed for success.  UCCD is excited to once again host YLAI professional in 2017.  Please stay tuned for program updates in the fall.  

To learn more about YLAI and what the alumni are up to, visit the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative.

YLAI Pitch

Please stay tuned for upcoming details.


Argentina: Francisco Ulla



Francisco Ulla is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Aero Studiodesign, a design company focused on generating a positive change in the world of triple impact design (economic, social, and environmental). He is also the Co-Founder of Biográfica, a company aimed at revolutionizing the graphic communication industry by using 100% biodegradable, plant-based signage. Francisco has a Master's degree in Industrial Design from the National University of Córdoba and an MBA in Green Businesses from the International Institute of Environmental EducationEndFragment .

Francisco will complete his fellowship with the Paper Box Company.

Brazil: Shirley Schneider


SchneiderShirley Schneider is the Co-Founder of Projeito Joule, a Brazilian non-profit organization that seeks to empower the lives of Brazil’s youth and poor. Projeito Joule provides free mentoring on career development skills, helping its students become more competitive in the professional world. Shirley previously worked in the Supply Chain and Projects division for Dell Computers and is a recipient of the Best Young Entrepreneur of the Year award from Laureate Universities. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Administration and International Business from the Pontifical   Catholic    University.

Shirley will complete her fellowship with Cicero Social Impact.

Colombia: Eduardo Acosta


AcostaEduardo Acosta is the Founder and CEO of GüashApp, an app where people can request their laundry to be picked up, washed, and dropped off at their location. This company uses clean transportation solutions, biodegradable plastic bags, and the newest technology to serve their clients in Colombia. Eduardo has previously worked as a sales representative at RCN Radio and Marriott Hotels. He has a Master’s degree in Languages from the University of Queensland and a Bachelor’s degree in International Business from the Universidad San Tomás.

Eduardo will complete his fellowship with Boom Starup.

Colombia: Eliana Camargo


CamargoEliana Camargo is the Co-Founder of Fundación Más por TIC, a Colombian social enterprise that provides training in information and communications technology. Más por TIC seeks to reduce inequality by hosting workshops, trainings, and projects that encourage people to use ICT to be more productive and inclusive. Eliana previously worked at the University College London Department of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Public Policy and at the ICT Ministry. She has an MPA in Science, Engineering, and Public Policy from the University College London and a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the Universidad Sergio Arboleda.

Eliana will complete her fellowship with Sorenson Impact Center.

Costa Rica: Pablo Vallego Solis


SolisPablo Vallejo Solis is the Co-Founder and CEO of Essential Green, an organization dedicated to reducing deforestation and wood usage by transitioning to sustainable and renewable alternatives. Essential Green converts agricultural waste into fibers that reduce the carbon footprint by 22%, creating products that have a similar quality and appearance to wood. His organization also values local employment and Costa Rican business-to-business transactions. Pablo has a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Münster in Germany.

Pablo will complete his fellowship with Eco Green Equipment.

Guatemala: Sofía Godoy


GodoySofía Godoy is the Co-Founder of Etnica, a Guatemalan tourist company. Dedicated to supporting the local community, Etnica employs locals in workshops, homestays, and cultural tours that provide them income and grant an authentic experience for tourists. Previously, Sofía worked with the Peak Destination Management Company as a Group Tour Leader. She has a Master's degree in Cultural Tourism from the Universitat de Girona and a Bachelor's degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the Universidad Rafael Landívar.

Sofía will complete her fellowship with American Conservation Experience.

Haiti: Jeanida Azor


AzorJeanida Azor is the Co-Founder and President of the Association Femmes d’Impact, an organization that provides social assistance to young mothers in Haiti. Concerned about the inability of young pregnant women to go to school and work in Haiti, her organization provides professional development, entrepreneurship, and leadership training to prepare them for a future career. Jeanida also works in Administrative Support for the Compagnie des Tabacs Comme Ill Faut S.A. and was previously the Secretary of Operations at Valerio Canez, S.A. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Quisqueya University.  

Jeanida will complete her fellowship with the Women's Business Center.

Mexico: Netzi Gallardo


GallardoNetzi Gallardo is the Co-Founder of La Colmena del Abuelo, a Mexico-based company that spreads awareness of the plight of bees and bee protection by promoting 100% pure honey. Netzi’s company markets their products throughout the world. In addition to her business venture, Netzi works as a Manager for Diana Vega Alta Joyería, a jewelry company. She has a Bachelor's in Foreign Language Teaching from the Universidad de Colima.                              

Netzi will complete her fellow ship with The Honey Stop.

Paraguay: Bibiana Dipeo


DipeoBibiana Dipeo is an MBA, with more than 10 years of experience in the financial sector. She developed projects in Brazil, Chile and was trained on social innovation in the United States. She is the Director of Alimentando Para El Futuro, an NGO that fights malnutrition and poverty by pioneering sustainable women-centered strategies. Through a collaborative program, mentors and community members joint efforts, fight child malnutrition and provide an alternative source of income for poor families.

Bibiana will complete her fellowship with Wasatch Community Gardens.

Venezuela: Andrés Solórzano


SolorzanoAndrés Solórzano is Co-Founder of Leather Heart, a company that recycles textile waste pieces to produce unique and high quality products at competitive prices. Leather Heart focuses on producing stuffed animals made of 100% textile waste while offering opportunities for unemployed women to re-enter the workforce. Andres has previous experience working with AcercArte Cultura, an organization that seeks to democratize creativity and innovation. Andres has an MBA from Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración (IESA) and a Bachelor’s degree in Foreign Affairs from the Universidad Central de Venezuela.

Andrés will complete his fellowship with Cotopaxi.