Very few people were talking about entrepreneurship in Puerto Rico when Grupo Guayacan, Inc. was born in 1996. Founded by Enrique “Ricky” Adsuar as a private sector mission-driven nonprofit organization, it has served entrepreneurs with a unique model that has coupled private equity investment with a series of programs to develop, strengthen, and advance Puerto Rico’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The name of the organization is no accident, taking inspiration from the Guayacán, a resilient tropical tree with deep roots and extremely hard wood that provides solid ground to withstand even the toughest of times. But beyond this early inspiration, the results 26 years later are unequivocal: over 2,500 entrepreneurs and 720 companies served, and an investment of over $20 million to promote the development and growth of local businesses.
Grupo Guayacán began with one clear mission: to build a robust entrepreneurial and access to capital ecosystem as a driver of economic and social value creation for Puerto Rico. Thus, the work of Grupo Guayacán is rooted in a deeply held belief that Puerto Rico can build the entrepreneurial sector in a way that meaningfully contributes to its overall economic development. This clear mission and vision, coupled with a strong governance structure and a high performing team, have helped it become one of the leading and most sought-after organizations providing business support and entrepreneurial training.
The organization offers several business development programs for local entrepreneurs in different growth stages. While the program portfolio keeps growing yearly through strategic partnerships, Guayacán currently has three cornerstone programs. The programs are designed to address various challenges and needs, depending on the stage of the entrepreneur and the maturity of the company or business idea.
For most early-stage ventures, Guayacán offers idea validation and commercialization support through I-Corps Puerto Rico; a customer discovery boot camp delivered locally in collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology a National Science Foundation node. Since 2015, I-Corps Puerto Rico has serviced 14 cohorts, providing training to 236 teams, of which over 85% are still active. For more advanced start-up teams with some early traction, Guayacán hosts the EnterPRize Business Competition, its oldest business development program, which includes access to a rigorous entrepreneurial education curriculum, mentoring, and equity-free seed capital for top participants. Since 2005, EnterPRize has impacted over 2,000 entrepreneurs and awarded over $1,800,000 in non-dilutive seed capital. Since 2017, the competition has seen more than 145 early-stage companies representing 500+ jobs and over $8,900,000 in annual sales. The Guayacán Venture Accelerator is an executive development program that supports mature companies in evaluating their business models and developing strategies to accelerate their growth. To date, the 119 companies that have graduated from the program had 384 executives participated and represented close to 8,300 jobs in Puerto Rico’s economy.
The success of Grupo Guayacán over the past 26 years reflects its multisector approach to building the local entrepreneurial ecosystem, where entrepreneurs, investors, corporate partnerships, academia, and the government play significant roles. In addition to directly supporting local companies through the entrepreneurial development programs, Guayacán also creates opportunities for local investors to generate financial returns with social impact through the Guayacán Family of Funds.
Since 1996, Grupo Guayacán has a strategic partnership with Abbott Capital Management LLC, one of the world’s most respected private equity investment managers. This partnership has allowed Guayacán to provide local institutional, and individual investors access to top-quality, U.S.-based, and international private equity partnerships through the Guayacán Family of Funds. Each of these funds is invested in a portfolio of private equity funds, which are diversified by stage, industry, vintage year, and geography. This in turn, has created a diversified base of investments that has allowed local venture funds to raise needed capital.
Guayacán is the only organization in Puerto Rico that specializes in these types of private equity fund of funds investments, making it a pioneer in Puerto Rico in sustainable business models for nonprofit organizations and in entrepreneurial development programs for local entrepreneurs. The fund of funds investments are pivotal to the program sustainability of the organization since the management fees generated are wholly reinvested into the entrepreneurial development activities, providing the nonprofit organization with a solid and sustainable revenue base to carry out its mission-driven work. The organization also launched the Guayacán Endowment Fund in 2016, in commemoration of Guayacán’s 20th Anniversary, in order to support the long-term sustainability of their programs.
Guayacán has been at the forefront of Puerto Rico’s entrepreneurial development. The organization is committed to advancing a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem, enabling a sustainable economy where entrepreneurs can grow businesses that contribute to a thriving and vibrant community. For more information on upcoming open calls and other Grupo Guayacán programs, follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You may also visit http://www.guayacan.org