Iván Andrés Mejía Pérez (Spain/Social Entrepreneurship) and José Santos (Portugal/Social Entrepreneurship)

HE José Santos and NE Iván Andrés Mejía Pérez

New Entrepreneur (NE)
Name & surname: Iván Andrés Mejía Pérez
Country: Spain
Age: 28
Sector of activity: Social Projects
Have you already started your business? Yes
Name of business: Connecting Borders
What is your future business? Intermediary organization to help tourists complete their import/export of vehicle tramits.

Host Entrepreneur (HE)
Name & surname: José Santos
Country: Portugal
Sector of activity: Social economy
Experience in running a business (in years): 13
Name of business/website: Vencer Autismo / www.vencerautismo.org
What is your business? Vencer Autismo has become the leading source in Portuguese speaking countries of free tools and techniques for parents and professionals to help their children overcome their challenges. We act locally, nationally and internationally helping autism challenged families having impacted over 20.000 people during 2015 and 2016.

Period of exchange: 01/10/2020 – 31/01/2021
Duration of exchange: 4 months

How was Iván’s experience during his participation in the EYE program and what benefits did he obtain from it?

I am Iván Mejía, a 28-year-old Colombian young man living in Spain. In 2019, I started a business project aimed at tourists who import / export their vehicles temporarily in Colombia. During the first year of my entrepreneurship, I faced different problems such as instability in sales, which is why I decided to travel to Spain and to study a Master in Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the 2019/20 academic year, and to improve my skills as an entrepreneur. After this, I learned about the existence of the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs program, which was perfectly adapted to my needs as an entrepreneur and basically consisted of carrying out an exchange immersed in entrepreneurship. What could better than this, that allows you to learn by doing hand in hand with an experienced entrepreneur and international.

I applied to the aforementioned program and I was selected for a collaboration with José Santos (HE), who is one of the 10 most recognized social entrepreneurs in Portugal.

This entrepreneur has more than 20 years of experience in the business world, of which the last ten years have been dedicated to his venture, Vencer Autismo, with which my exchange was related.

The relationship with José began on October 1, 2020 and we agreed to collaborate until January 31, 2021 (4 months). Throughout this time, I have learned techniques and strategies to develop projects with a social sense, which has allowed me to establish objectives, write projects and include techniques 100% oriented to my purposes and aligned with the project’s mission. The HE and I worked together and provided feedback on each of the advances throughout the collaboration. In addition, with the HE, I have learned to approach people and establish business relationships that add value to the company’s internal and external clients (stakeholders). Despite the confinement and state of emergency, we were able to continue with our plan of activities using digital tools that allowed us to exchange mentoring spaces with good quality and real time.

The fact that the exchange was in Portugal also represented another challenge, which was the national language of this country (Portuguese). At the same time, it has been another one of the achievements made because after 3 months I have reached a fluent level in this language.

Thanks to my participation in the programme, I was able to meet my objectives and to also learn new techniques in the writing and planning of projects thanks to the support of the HE. I learned a new language and made valuable international contacts that can be very useful in the future. My business plan has benefited from the exchange relationship because I have established strategic international alliances to offer a global service and to be more attractive to clients, which will be of value to increase my sales. For my part, I was able to offer the HE 3 projects developed from an external perspective that gives him the opportunity to see details that were being forgotten by him but that turned out to be important for his target audience. I will definitely keep in touch with my HE, he is a leader, which kept me strong and motivated throughout the relationship.

Without a doubt, this has been a unique and gratifying experience, from which I have taken the best advantage. It is an opportunity to which all those interested in entrepreneurship should participate. For this reason, I want to invite all readers to be part of Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs.

Concluding Remarks

Iván Andrés Mejía Pérez (NE): „The program for young entrepreneurs is a tool that helped me to perfect my business plan with which I applied, and to have a specific and achievable vision about it. It is a program in which you work hand in hand with an experienced entrepreneur, who will be your guide during the exchange. Here I understood the difference between theory and implementation, and that is that practice requires you to be a proactive person who is in constant interaction with the dynamics and demands of the market. Also, this program offers you the opportunity to learn by doing, which is very interesting and keeps you motivated to continue. In the end, you will be a more focused and professional person.“

José Santos (HE): “Iván proved to be a proactive person and committed to the collaboration set. The integration of him to our work team served to broaden the perspective and meaning of our activities because we knew how an external person perceives what Vencer Autismo does and thus be able to include details that could go unnoticed for us but really are of great value to meet our goal.“