Campus - 20.12.2023 - 09:59 

HSG student initiative promotes startups from Latin America and Africa

The student organisation START Global is inviting 38 startup founders from Latin America and Africa to HSG. In St.Gallen, the young entrepreneurs will receive intensive coaching and networking opportunities in the local startup scene. With this programme, the HSG students are striving to promote equal opportunities globally. 

In spring 2024, 35 startup founders from Latin America and three from Africa will spend a semester at the HSG. The young entrepreneurs have been invited to St.Gallen as part of the "START Fellowship" programme. "They will receive intensive entrepreneurial training for four months," says Max Bieri, who heads the fellowship programme at the student organisation START Global. The programme was launched in 2020 and has since supported 88 founders of 55 startups from Latin America at HSG. These startups have since created 250 jobs in their home countries and received around CHF 4.1 million in investment.

For the first time, African startups were also able to apply for the 2024 edition. START Global aims to promote global equal opportunities with the programme organised entirely by HSG students. "Everyone deserves to have their ideas heard," the organisation writes on its website. 

The fellows' stay is supported by the Swiss foundation "Fondation Botnar". The foundation's mission is to promote the health and well-being of young people worldwide. It fully finances the START Fellows' stay so that they can concentrate fully on developing their startups. "And thanks to this financing, we can also support startups that pursue charita-ble goals and not primarily profit," says Bieri. "The programme also allows us to continu-ously expand our global entrepreneurial network."

Every startup should receive investment

The START Summit, which always takes place in spring, shows just how dense this network is: The Summit is one of the largest startup conferences in Europe. For two days, it turns St.Gallen into an international meeting place for the startup scene with over 6,000 visitors.

To track down the most interesting startups for the fellowship programme, a team from START Global travelled through Latin America this summer. "Among other things, we watched presentations from a total of around 350 startups at 20 universities," says Bieri. Before being accepted into the fellowship programme, the startups go through a multi-stage selection process. 

"One prerequisite for the application is that startups have already developed an initial version of a product or service," says Bieri. However, START Global also supports companies at a very early stage: in the digital "Incubator" programme, startups are introduced to the development of a product.

The 35 founders from Latin America and three founders from Africa that have now been selected have been trained in online courses since November in preparation for their time in St.Gallen. The aim is for all startups to receive their first financing after qualification of the so-called "Accelerator" programme in St.Gallen.

Expansion of the programme is planned 

To this end, START Global connects the founders with various investors. Each of the 38 fellows also receives two personal mentors. These are usually venture capital investors and successful startup founders. The fellows also attend two courses at HSG: an introduction to founding a startup and a course on financial management. The highlight of this programme is participation in the START Summit and Demo Day at the end of the stay. At this event, selected fellows can present to potential investors.

START Global intends to continuously expand its fellowship programme: 50 fellows are to receive a funding place in St.Gallen in 2024/25 and around 60 in 2025/26. According to Bieri, it is also conceivable that startups from Asia will also be able to apply in future. 

Last but not least, the student-supported fellowship programme also expands the HSG's international network: this comprises over 200 universities worldwide with which ex-change studies are possible. The programme has added around 100 universities in Latin America and Africa to this network, which maintain their own entrepreneurship pro-grammes.

Discover our special topics