Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Escuela de Administración
Category: Engaging a Diverse Community
Location: Santiago, Chile
Accreditation Status: Accredited
Innovation Title: PYME UC
Through the PYME UC initiative, the Escuela de Administración provides training classes while connecting alumni and faculty mentors with entrepreneurs from small or medium businesses. In concert, the courses and mentors help provide strategic guidance and business insight, which in turn improves organizational competitiveness and strengthens economic development as well as the employment market across Chile.
Call to Action
According to available data, approximatly seven out of 10 small and medium enterprises (SME) in Chile go bankrupt before reaching their 10th year of existence. The PYME UC training initiative was created as a way to support small- and medium-sized Chilean enterprises to achieve sustainable development.
The School of Business Administration at Pontificia Universidad Católica was primarily focused on training undergraduate students, MBA students, and corporate executives. However, in 2008, the idea of creating a mentoring and training program for SME entrepreneurs was introduced, in line with the university and the school's mission, as a way to make a significant contribution to society through teaching and connecting with diverse communities.
Aware of the fact that, at this level, entrepreneurs generally have a low income, some large companies were invited to support the initiative with financial resources and marketing. The two companies that are collaborating with the program are El Mercurio de Chile (the country's largest daily newspaper) and Banco BCI (the third largest bank in Chile).
Since it began, this initiative has enabled the collaborative participation of major school stakeholders: teachers, alumni, students, and corporate partners. As a result, the SME Management course was taught for the first time in 2008. Over time, new ideas and programs have been added to this course, which has increased and diversified the impact of PYME UC.
PYME UC is a training initiative with courses aimed at small and medium enterprises. The SME Management course has been—since 2008—the main course of the program and consists of 66 hours taught by professors from the School of Business Administration, with 34 hours of mentoring for each entrepreneur conducted by school alumni.
The course addresses the main aspects for effective management of an SME and simultaneously mentors the entrepreneur through a competitive analysis of the company—to identify main areas for improvement—and through the preparation of a business plan.
Mentors participating in the program are outstanding undergraduate and MBA alumni, with extensive professional experience, that carry out this activity voluntarily. Mentorships are supported by undergraduate students who play a significant role in accompanying entrepreneurs, giving them a chance to put their knowledge into practice. Therefore, this is also an important formative experience for undergraduate students.
Starting this year, PYME UC also provides a SME's self-diagnostic program with a 10-hour online training course and an in-class closing session, called ADOC program. Through the self-diagnosis, entrepreneurs are able to identify areas for improvement in management and acquire new tools through the training course.
Finally, in order to train a greater number of companies, the first MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) was offered during 2015, and a second MOOC course is currently being designed.
SME Management Course (created in 2008)
This program's main impact is its contribution to improving the operation and competitiveness of small and medium enterprises in Chile, which is reflected in the high levels of student satisfaction (92 percent of the students consider themselves as very satisfied with the program).
Since 2008, 563 entrepreneurs have been trained through this program, all of whom have received a total of 34,343 training hours and 27,542 hours of mentoring, of which 40 percent have been dedicated hours of approximately 300 undergraduate students. More than 200 alumni have participated as mentors in the program.
MOOC Program (created in 2015)
Since it was first implemented, approximately 55,000 people have taken the course, of whom 38,000 are active learners and 3,000 have already completed the course. This program has also allowed PYME UC to expand its contribution beyond Chile, by reaching entrepreneurs from countries like Mexico (20 percent of registered students), Peru (13 percent), Colombia (12 percent), Spain (6 percent), and Ecuador (4.5 percent), among others.
ADOC Program (created in 2016)
Since it was launched this year, about 40 entrepreneurs have performed a self-diagnosis of their companies and have participated in the training course.