LATAM IN GERMANY: meet Hilda Lanas
LATAM in Germany is a new interview series and section, especially designed to highlight the EMERGE21 platform, both aiming to support Argentinian, Chilean, & overall LATAM founders and startups to strive their scaling into new markets, with a focus of having Hessen and Germany as an entrance point into Germany, Europe and the world.
Frankfurt Valley as a Media Partner, will highlight different leaders and founders, whose stories and records should inspire and motivate other LATAM stakeholders to join us.
Today, we bring to our virtual stage Hilda Lanas -International Development Consultant with over 20 years experience in International Development, Communications (written, photographic), Project Management, Program Design, with solid analytical and problem-solving skills. Certified Executive Coach, Certified Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator of a variety of participatory tools. She is from Ecuador but she has lived in 7 countries in South America, Central America, North America, West Africa, South Africa, Europe. Currently she is based in Frankfurt and interestingly, she is busy focusing on the plastic and waste crisis on the planet with some links to Argentina.
Dear Hilda, where to start…can you tell our readers, where your roots are from, and a bit of your background story?
I am originally from Ecuador, and after finishing my university in the United States, I stayed in Washington and my last job there was at the World Bank. While in Washington, the opportunity came for my husband and I to move to Benin, West Africa to work for the German voluntary service, and we took it. At the time, the Internet was just starting, communications were precarious, but for me it meant an opportunity to work in local development from the ground up. I coordinated a project for food security, and entrepreneurship was a big aspect of the project. Providing people with the tools to start their own business is vital in local development, not only in Africa but in any context. From then, I decided to become an independent consultant which gave me the flexibility to raise a family, I have lived in 7 countries and raised 3 children and a dog.
What brought you to Frankfurt — Hessen?
Hessen became my central point while living in Germany. For me, as a Consultant, it was a perfect central point since Frankfurt is a very international city with easy international connections.
What are you currently working on? Do you think our region is the perfect spot for you right now?
At the moment I am focused on developing projects which use small scale technology for waste management and waste recycling. Cities are evolving with innovative ideas, where waste management is a vital aspect in city development. I work with companies based in Europe, and Frankfurt is a perfect central point.
How much have you been involved in Innovation and Entrepreneurship locally and globally?
In one way or another, every project I have worked on had a component promoting entrepreneurship. From my first project in Africa, where I coordinated a food security project, entrepreneurship was a big aspect of the project. In the field of waste management, and plastic recycling in particular, entrepreneurs are vital, since cities all over the world are not able to manage all their plastic waste and it often ends up burned in factories creating a serious environmental problem. I am always looking for entrepreneurs in other countries that are interested in starting their own business in waste management and alternative energies. As well being in Frankfurt, I had the opportunity to work as an advisor for a number of startups, and have seen first hand the hard work, enthusiasm and courage it takes to put an idea into something more concrete.
With such a multicultural background — how was your experience and things you overcame to be where you are today, especially the German-European part?
Having the experience to live and work in 7 countries has given me first hand understanding of different cultures. I worked as a consultant while raising a family and following my partner, who was also working in international development cooperation. For me that meant reinventing myself every time we moved to another country; I became resilient and creative. 6 years ago when I came back to Frankfurt, I was faced again with the situation of starting again, and this time in Germany. I was fortunate to find an international city, and a place where new and innovative ideas were emerging. I got quickly involved in the circle of startups and it was exciting to see all the movement. I was always involved in projects that involved sustainable practices in cities, and being here in Germany, gave me access to technology that could be brought to countries where I had worked before, to me it has been ideal.
If you could mix the best of both worlds, what would be the top skills you would mix from both sides of the Ocean (LATAM and Germany)?
If I have to think of the top skills that I could take from both sides, from Latin America I would choose innovation and resilience and from the German side I would choose reliability and endurance. If I could combine these 4 skills, I would come up with a winner!
Can you share some tips or stories with other LATAM Founders that are about to take the leap to start business in Germany-Europe?
Make a solid case study, know your product and its applications, don’t make too many assumptions.
Use of resources available, like networking webs.
Be transparent, there are always points of negotiation like in any business, but maintaining a solid relationship from the beginning could help you go further.
Be realistic, if the business seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Be well prepared, and produce good quality material.
What would be your message to German stakeholders in regards to the potential of Argentina and LATAM in general?
Argentina in particular with 44 million habitants has great business potential with one of the largest economies of the region and with an emerging market status. It has a variety of industries from the service sector to pharmaceuticals, to design, agriculture, etc. It has a well educated labor force. Argentina is a diverse and wonderful country with much potential, finding the right balance and the right partners could translate into a successful venture.
Latin America with its diversity, offers as well a whole range of opportunities for business. Technology and knowledge exchange is essential for the future in Latin America. Latin America is rich in natural resources and in very general terms still relying on agricultural exports. Technological exchange between Germany and Latin America, could be a key factor in the development of industries adding value to raw materials, therefore increasing revenues for those countries. The fresh approach and flexibility of Latina American entrepreneurs could translate into great opportunities for German stakeholders looking for innovation and fresh out of the box ideas.
To close the interview, we invite all our readers to discover the initiative fromAHK Argentina — Cámara de Industria y Comercio Argentino-Alemana together with Mainstage Incubator and Hessen Trade & Invest GmbH: