Floralicia Anzola is countering a culture of polarization and powerlessness in Venezuela by finding, publicizing, and strengthening the work of everyday entrepreneurs. Her organization, 0800-Flor, features entrepreneurs on the radio and online, then pulls together allies to support their ventures. By showing her audience examples of action, Floralicia is moving them from an attitude of "I wait" to "I do."
The New Idea
Floralicia Anzola is pushing the conversation about entrepreneurship in Venezuela and preparing an ecosystem in the country in which entrepreneurs – current and future – can flourish. In a country where political polarization highlights differences more than commonalities and where violence and economic crisis is the shared narrative, Floralicia is offering a new story. She finds entrepreneurs whose ventures and personal backgrounds she can share with her audience through several communication platforms. Then, she coaches the entrepreneurs and connects them to tools to strengthen their own work, reinforce the entrepreneurial environment, and encourage others to follow their example. In a culture of dependency on state assistance and day-to-day living, Floralicia’s ultimate goal is to inspire responsibility, action, and forward thinking.
Floralicia has discovered that many people do not see themselves as entrepreneurs even if they are. Via a her popular radio spot, webpage and social media, as well as others who pick and spread up her content, Floralicia is showing examples of what is an entrepreneur and what are their ideas for breaking out and building a better future for themselves and their communities. Three times a day, five days a week, Floralicia reaches a radio audience of over half a million Venezuelans with short pieces, including interviews, of both social and business entrepreneurs. The pieces are all online in audio and written form, and spread quickly in articles and social media. During each interview, Floralicia pulls out the personal story as well as that of the venture, building points of connection that will resonate with her audience. During and after the interviews, she also acts as a mentor for the entrepreneur, offering advice, encouragement, and connections to move their ideas forward.
Now, having profiled 700 entrepreneurs in two years, Floralicia is not just seeking out stories, they are coming to 0800-Flor as the entrepreneurs themselves and their friends now understand and nominate others. Her audience and the featured entrepreneurs are now multipliers of the culture of possibility – “If she or he can do it, so can you.” 0800-Flor is shifting towards a foundation to provide mentorship to the entrepreneurs at scale and concentrate on strengthening the ecosystem. Floralicia and her team are already adapting a lecture series for high school students, to share the 0800-Flor entrepreneurs’ stories and inspire changemaking. They are also and working on larger gatherings for entrepreneurs and allies. In the long term, Floralicia sees her work as an important tool for collaboration and problem solving across Latin America.
Floralicia Anzola is spreading stories of entrepreneurship to thousands of Venezuelans every day. Her short radio program, 0800-For, reaches a radio audience of 540,000 fifteen times per week and many more through online recordings and written posts. These stories feature mostly fellow Venezuelans and their ventures (both socially and business-focused) as well as international entrepreneurs. Floralicia has covered over 700 since 2012. Both the radio program and other support for entrepreneurs are coordinated by 0800-Flor, a nonprofit that Floralicia formalized in 2011. 0800-Flor has a team of 8 (6 journalists and 2 radio operators) and receives funding from radio advertising as well as donations from companies and other CSOs.
The 5-minute radio spots are broadcast 3 times a day on the FM circuit leader in Venezuela, Success Circuit, reaching 11 regional stations in the main cities across the country. Most listeners are between the ages of 25 and 60 years-old and of all socioeconomic backgrounds, but more listeners are in the middle-low and middle classes. Floralicia and the team generate the content for both the radio show and the web, tapping into many different outlets to find the featured entrepreneurs. When Floralicia began, she was the one putting her investigative journalism experience to use to find the entrepreneurs – many of whom did not self-identify as such. Now, while the team still searches for individuals, many are nominated by 0800-Flor’s audience. To help look for untapped stories, the team gets leads from other entrepreneurs, social media, and other partnerships. They also search sources such as blogs, Feedly, Twitter and Linkedin. When something looks promising, the team reaches out to learn more about the individuals and what inspired them. Floralicia reviews these herself, and sends leads along to her journalists, network content manager, and website editor. In parallel, journalists review their own sources of information to feed the web. The team works closely and quickly, maintaining communication via text and phone all day. Each Thursday, Floralicia writes the radio scripts for the entire week, and then records her radio spots, with the protagonist’s own perspective captured in phone calls, Skype, or live in the studio. Then, the operator sends the weekly agenda to Success Circuit.
To spread the stories and identity of entrepreneurs, 0800-Flor is conscious of their social media presence. To both further their reach as well as generate resources, Floralicia selects sponsors to advertise on the website and on the air who can also help build the 0800-Flor reputation and networks. Others offer to feature 0800-Flor content on their own websites for free. Finally, the team also forms partnerships with associations and organizations. These connections share the stories through their own social networks and entrepreneurship blogs. Because the entrepreneurs themselves and their friends are increasingly writing to 0800-Flor to share their own projects, there is now a special section of the website called “Story Hunters,” a tool that allows the user to write, upload pictures and testimonies, and share amongst their own networks. Then, some of these are chosen for radio broadcast. In this way, Floralicia is inviting her audience to become the storytellers.
In addition to the individual entrepreneur stories, the web page 0800flor.net publishes nearly 1,200 articles on entrepreneurship, tools, strategies, and crowdfunding. The page receives over 100,000 visits per month, and in Floralicia’s social networks, which serve as a two-way information channel for stories, she has more than 50,000 thousand followers on Twitter from her corporate account (@0800Flor) and personal (@Floralicianzola) account. The program has been recognized by other organizations dedicated to the entrepreneurial ecosystem, such as the "Ideas Contest" (sponsored by the CAF, Development Bank of Latin America), where Floralicia was a judge in the selection of the 2013 social entrepreneur, and the Avon Foundation for Women in Venezuela, which appointed her as a member of its Board of Directors. Floralicia has also been invited to speak about social media management for small businesses and to give workshops on how to make a social cause visible and invite others to take action.
In addition to mainstreaming entrepreneurship as a concept through the sharing of these stories, 0800-Flor is strengthening the individual entrepreneurs and their ventures. In each interview and recording session, Floralicia connects the entrepreneur to key opportunities, providing them with new information, contacts, and even participating with them in meetings. The direct interaction with the entrepreneurs pushes them toward new ideas and longer-term vision. Specifically, Floralicia helps them to grow the impact of their ventures. Of the nearly 700 entrepreneurs featured on 0800-Flor, after sharing their stories, she established partnerships with about 30 of them.
For example, 0800-Flor featured the Healing Foundation (Fundación Sanando), which is dedicated to donating medicines and medical supplies in Venezuela. During the interviews, Floralicia pointed Milagros (the Fundación Sanando founder) towards the competitions and forums that could provide visibility to her project and insisted she participate in the CAF’s Ideas Contest for the promotion of her entrepreneurship. Milagros, who used the 0800-Flor radio report in her application, was named the winner and "Social Entrepreneur of the Year" in 2012. Now, the Healing Foundation has a network of allies and serves 13,000 beneficiaries. Another featured case is tumotorizado.com, a website that enables taxi drivers on motorcycles to be “motor-entrepreneurs” and model positive behavior. In Venezuela, many motorcyclists belong to criminal groups. Marcel Imery, the founder, began combining the transport service with shipping work and other tasks, all under an association. During her interview with Marcel, Floralicia saw the possibility for the (formerly unbanked) motor-taxis to access credit and banking systems. She also suggested he seek educational opportunities for the motor-entrepreneurs’ children, and to build alliances for their visual and dental healthcare. Floralicia even invited him to present his story at a forum sponsored by Banesco Bank with an audience of 400 entrepreneurs.
To further develop this aspect and scale beyond her one-on-one coaching, Floralicia plans to transform 0800-Flor into a foundation top provide comprehensive training and support to the largest possible number of entrepreneurs, connecting them through her community, not just online, but in the real world. This shift begins with two strategies: 1) Offer training in communication and social awareness to universities and school students, and 2) Leverage the network 0800-Flor has built to host entrepreneurship gatherings where anyone can hear the stories and experience the entrepreneurial network in person. The strategy is already underway. In 2013, Floralicia and her team gave talks called "Planting a Country" to 1,000 seniors in high school from several schools in Caracas to promote empathy as a skill that empowers young people to be changemakers and entrepreneurs. They plan to continue and expand the scope of these talks. Floralicia also participates in the annual forum "From Entrepreneur to Entrepreneur," an event sponsored by Banco Banesco that convenes more than 400 entrepreneurs in the banking community. There, she shares stories collected by 0-800 Flor. In addition, Floralicia is currently organizing an annual fair for entrepreneurs, as a training and networking opportunity, and already has the backing of several organizations that want to support entrepreneurs.
Floralicia has a particular motivation to feature young people and women entrepreneurs. Of the stories presented on the radio since 2012, 350 of them have female protagonists, and of the articles on the web, over 45% have a female founder or spokesperson. Of the 100,000 monthly visitors on the web, 48% are women. In 2014, the cosmetics company L'Oreal selected Floralicia as its ambassador. This will give her the platform to further her work with and especially encourage women entrepreneurs. Floralicia also works with women-focused organizations such as Aliadas en Cadena, dedicated to women’s empowerment and gender equality in Venezuela (directed by Ashoka Fellow Ileana La Rosa).
In the short-term, Floralicia aims to reach more than 3 million nascent entrepreneurs and at least 10% of the Venezuelan population. In the long-term, she sees this as an important model to carry to the broader Latin American audience. To Floralicia, entrepreneurship is like music; regardless of race or creed, people can connect with and enjoy it. She sees something similar happen with entrepreneurs, because the difficulties they face are common. She says, “We have to allow the music of entrepreneurship to sound in Venezuela, to connect us.”
Floralicia comes from a middle-class family and studied at the Colegio San José de Tarbes in Caracas. There,she had the opportunity to participate in religious missions and visit the slums nearby. However, she took a different perspective from that of her teachers --she thought that only speaking about God without offering concrete responses to everyday problems or without responding to the basic needs of the people was insufficient. This experience moved her and oriented her towards seeking social change. In addition, she was very involved with her mother’s work. A business entrepreneur, her mother supplemented family income with creative designs that she invented and sold to department stores. However, the initiative did not grow due to the social barriers to being a female entrepreneur. Seeing this marked Floralicia, and was the impetus for her later challenging the traditional roles assigned to women.
Floralicia was also very active in school, with leadership, creative, and social abilities. She participated in the Student Council and in strengthening alliances with other youth groups, and from there her vocation of encouraging communication and connection between people grew. At the age of 18, she received a certificate in locution, and by the time she was 22 years-old, she had started working as a producer at the prestigious television program Close-Up with Gilberto Correa (a well-known Venezuelan entertainer and broadcaster). At Close-Up, she began introducing themes of entrepreneurship, women's issues, and social change into the programming. From there, Floralicia’s career in radio and television production took off, and she gained experience in both managing and directing programs. In 1991, she formed a network of radios at the national level as well as a content production company of her own for radio, television, and online media.
Floralicia developed an interest in showing what others do as entrepreneurs and projecting them as role models and as initiatives that anyone is capable of joining. Direct contact with the entrepreneurs has offered them ideas and helps them see beyond the present to envision the future. Her radio show called “Frívolas”, which captured stories of entrepreneurs, later became a book, giving further recognition of the quality and commitment of the entrepreneurs. Floralicia became aware of the importance of her work in giving visibility and legitimacy to the work of others, and that realization led her to start 0-800 Flor to share stories that change lives. Floralicia is determined to make many more entrepreneurs through her ability to find, recognize, and share those already at work.