Conscious Venture Lab partners with Mexican university to create accelerator

A new partnership between Conscious Venture Lab and one of the largest private universities in Latin America will help Mexican entrepreneurs learn how to create companies that do more than simply make money.

CVL founder Jeff Cherry is bringing his 16-week accelerator program to the Instituto Tecnologico y De Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, or Tec, to help entrepreneurs learn the ideas of conscious capitalism, which emphasizes creating values for not just shareholders but employees and others impacted by a company. Joshua Hammerschlag, professor and director of social entrepreneurship at Tec, plans to bring in 10 to 12 companies from across Latin America into the first CVL program at the university in 2023.

Hammerschlag is hoping the program will help businesses develop solutions to problems and get to an investment-ready stage. The program will not focus on any specific industry.

“The essence of stakeholder capitalism is to bring value to the whole chain and create win-win situations,” Hammerschlag said.

The hope is that the collaboration will give companies in Mexico the chance to break into the U.S. market. Cherry believes that the program will be a learning experience for entrepreneurs in Baltimore as well, helping American companies learn how to venture into the Latin American market.

Two professors from Tec visited Baltimore this week to meet with Cherry and experience the city. The duo got to learn more about the Baltimore tech scene through a visit to ecosystem builder Upsurge Baltimore’s weekly Equitech Tuesday event, a gathering that brings together many Baltimore entrepreneurs and, in turn, gave Cherry an education in tequila over dinner at Tagliata in Harbor East.

Cherry said members of CVL will return the favor by visiting the Tec campus in Mexico City to help kick start the program. Tec is one of the largest private universities in Mexico, with an enrollment of over 60,000 undergraduate students and over 7,000 graduate students.

Tec already has experience teaching about conscious capitalism and a strong entrepreneurial program. One of the chief architects of the movement, Raj Sisodia, is a professor at the Mexican university and over 4,354 businesses have graduated from the university's business incubation system. In 2021, Tec launched the Conscious Enterprises Center to help business leaders learn to create a more equitable society.

“It's not like this is some university who didn't know anything about conscious capitalism just stumbled upon us,” Cherry said. “We were already swimming in the same pool of water, thinking about and doing a lot of the same things.”

The two professors who visited Baltimore, Hammerschlag and his colleague, Nitzia Peña, both started their own businesses before going into teaching. Hammerschlag created a company that produces eco-friendly coffins, while Pena created a platform that matches a child's interests with a variety of children's books.

"We believe the best thing we can do is foster an entrepreneurial mindset in our students so they can go beyond their limits and solve the biggest problems in the world," Hammerschlag said.

The pan-Latin American vision of the CVL partnership is part of Tec's vision of creating development across the region, Hammerschlag said. Conscious Venture labs is undergoing a period of huge growth as it expands into Mexico. The venture capital arm of the accelerator, Conscious Venture Partners, is in the midst of a $50 million fundraise.

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