The Future of Puerto Rico
When I first moved to Puerto Rico over a year ago, I really had no idea of what to expect for my business or life in general. I only knew two people on the island, had never visited before, and was unsure if I was going to be able to make myself feel at home. However, after about a month of living on the island, I was in love. Not only do I have access to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but I also am able to save a ton of money while I continue to grow my business. Although I wasn’t sure what my future would look like when I moved, I knew in my gut that I was making the right decision. And, over a year later - through Covid and all - I stand firm in my belief that Puerto Rico is a fantastic destination for entrepreneurs. I often get asked what I see myself doing in the next five to ten years and if I plan on continuing to live in Puerto Rico. As you can probably tell, I’m the type of person who likes to go with the flow and take things as they come, so I’m not one to dwell on what I’ll be doing in the distant future. However, what I do know is that I am unbelievably elated with my decision to relocate to Puerto Rico, which is why I have been spending so much time helping other entrepreneurs realize the amazing opportunities that Puerto Rico can provide them with.
Although I can’t tell you exactly where I’ll be living in ten years from now, what I can tell you is that the future of Puerto Rico is bright. Not just for me, but for anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit, an open mind, and a love for island living. That’s because, despite the setbacks that Puerto Rico has faced from hurricanes and earthquakes, the territory seems to be making a massive comeback and reinvigorating the local economy by focusing on attracting as many entrepreneurs as possible and instilling an entrepreneurial spirit in its citizens. Individuals and organizations are coming together to bolster Puerto Rico’s economic development, which, in the past, has been hindered by what many believe are macroeconomic forces.
One of these individuals is billionaire Orlando Bravo. In 2019, Bravo committed to spending $100 million on entrepreneurship and economic development on the island through his Bravo Family Foundation. Bravo is co-founder of Thomas Bravo, a private equity firm with interests in software and tech-enabled service companies. In 2019, Forbes listed Bravo as the first Puerto Rican-born billionaire. According to Bravo, he believes that his commitment will foster entrepreneurship in individuals. “I see the innate talent, skills and vitality of so many young people who thirst for opportunity but are held back by poverty and debilitating macroeconomic forces,” he said (Times of Entrepreneurship).
And, Orlando Bravo isn’t the only one taking extensive measures to re-invigorate Puerto Rico’s economy and instill an entrepreneurial mindset. The University of Puerto Rico in San Juan - an 11-campus university system with more than 57,000 students - provides students with an entrepreneurship track and major. The school hopes to encourage more young people to adopt an entrepreneurship mentality, which will in turn, create more economic stability and success on the island. Manuel Lobato, a finance professor at the University of Puerto Rico San Juan says, “I believe this is finally a new paradigm in the way the economy of Puerto Rico is being built” (Times of Entrepreneurship). Sadly, he explains, because of the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria in 2017, “the population of the island shrank from about 3.6 million to just over 3.2 million,” (Bureau of Economic Analysis). And following this, businesses struggled. However, fast forward four years, and the island seems to be coming back stronger than it ever was thanks to forward-thinking individuals like Professor Lobato.
What’s even more exciting is that entrepreneurship isn’t just being taught and encouraged in college - it’s being shared amongst Puerto Rico’s youth. Through the non-profit organization Friends of Puerto Rico, the SEEDS program seeks to transform Puerto Rico’s youth into leaders and social entrepreneurs (entrepreneur.com). According to the founders of the organization, “the purpose of SEEDS is to develop entrepreneurial skills in students who are between 9 and 12 years old to have in them skills that can benefit their professional future, as well as their commitment to society. Since its implementation in 2019, SEEDS has managed to create 25 companies with 100 students from various public schools who are “committed to creating positive social change through the vision of their companies” (https://www.friendsofpuertorico.org/seeds).
I explain all of the many entrepreneurial endeavors taking shape and springing across the island of Puerto Rico because it seriously excites me. I’ve witnessed how promising this tiny, beautiful island is and how much it can offer business owners and entrepreneurs from a financial perspective. With so much promise, I know that no matter how long I live in Puerto Rico, the island’s entrepreneurial spirit will only continue to grow and attract more amazing individuals.