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The Embassy of Ecuador in Washington, D.C., announced ten winners of the Start-Up Ecuador en USA program during an award ceremony at the Community Church of New York on Thursday. The program aims to recognize the entrepreneurial spirit and supporting the business ideas of the Ecuadorian migrant community in the United States.

The ten selected projects contribute to the following business sectors in both Ecuador and in the United States: education, construction, technology, food services, health, and tourism. The winners will receive funding of $10,000, which can be used to access professional business training and business development services that will enable them to launch their business plans over the course of 12 months.

Among the winners were Shirley Solís, Xavier Arellano, Andrea Torres and Adriana Parra from Florida; Tomás Vejar from Massachussetts, María Fernanda Torres from Texas; Alejandra Zambrano and Ivette Gabriela Santana from New York, Diego LaFuente from New Jersey; and John Artieda from Illinois. The jury evaluated the top 20 projects and then selected the ten winning participants prior to the award ceremony. The business plans were evaluated based on the quality, usefulness, and future viability of each business.

“We are all very grateful for this opportunity, and especially thankful for Ambassador Cely’s hard work in launching this project and acknowledging our efforts and talents here in the U.S. Being recognized and supported in this manner by the Government of Ecuador means a lot,” said Ma. Fernanda Torres, winner of “Start-Up Ecuador en USA.”

Latino entrepreneurs in the U.S. are growing almost 10 times faster than the overall population, with immigrant entrepreneurs from Ecuador and other Latin American growing up to 1.4 million in 2013. There are approximately 3.2 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S. that generate more than $478 billion, according to a recent study by Geoscape.

“Start-Up Ecuador en USA identified Ecuadorian entrepreneurial talent in the United States,” said Ambassador Cely. “We are very proud of our winners and all of those who participated in this initiative. They are all part of the growth and recognition of our country.”

The Embassy of Ecuador in the U.S., Ecuadorian Consulates, and U.S.-based Ecuadorian Trade Offices launched Start-Up Ecuador en USA in August 2014 as a symbol of their commitment to support Ecuadorian entrepreneurs in the U.S.

“Start-Up Ecuador en USA has provided another avenue to boost the efforts of the many Ecuadorians entrepreneurs living in the U.S. who want to make a positive economic and social contribution in this country, while advancing their business dreams and ideas,” added Ambassador Cely who also stressed the importance of the support received by the “Alianza para el Emprendimiento y la Innovación del Ecuador – AEI”, strategic ally of the Embassy in the development of the Start-Up Ecuador USA initiative.

For more information about Start-Up Ecuador en USA and the terms/conditions of the competition, click on LIKE us on Facebook: Start Up Ecuador USA & FOLLOW us on Twitter @StartUpEcuUSA!