Pedro Espinoza is a 19-year-old Peruvian-American student at UC Berkeley and Class of 2017. He is planning to major in Business Administration and minor in German. Pedro was born in Lima, Peru, and moved to Miami, FL when he was 5. He went to middle school in Nashville, TN and then high school in the American School of Lima. He has also lived in Munich, Germany as part of a high school exchange program. In addition, Pedro lived 6 months in Rochester, New York for a college session at the University of Rochester. The fact that he has lived in 6 different cities, in 3 different countries for the past 19 years of his life makes him not only a global citizen, but also a global leader. SmileyGo is just one example of Pedro’s leadership.
What is SmileyGo?
SmileyGo is a social enterprise that connects businesses with non-profits via its technological platform in order to generate a
win-win situation for both sides of the tech platform: for-profit and non-profit. This social venture was founded July 4, 2014 thanks to the resources of UC Berkeley, Santa Clara University, and Stanford University, and of course the San Francisco Bay Area provides of entrepreneurship, tech innovation and creativity. SmileyGo started with a group of 4 students and has expanded into a diverse global business with over 75 SmileyGoers in 18 countries across 6 continents. SmileyGo is currently present in United Arab Emirates, Morocco, China, India, Spain, Mexico, and France; these are just some of the nations SmileyGo is present in. Feel free to visit SmileyGo.org, to learn more about our global impact.
What is your vision at SmileyGo?
Our vision is to become a globally recognized social enterprise that bridges corporations with NGO’s (non-governmental organization) in order to foster billions of smiles in the children of overlooked communities around the globe.
What inspired you to create and start SmileyGo?
Having lived in 3 different countries, I perceived the differences in inequality, disparity and opportunities for kids. So I wanted change! I was raised in a disciplined, principled, and proactive home where it was a meritocracy. My parents encouraged me to work at age 13 at a Toyota Dealership. When I was 14, my mother founded an educational NGO in Peru called Pan Peru, where I volunteered every summer building the rural library. At Pampas Grande, where the library is located, I met Juana, a 12 year-old girl who told me she wanted to become a farmer since that was her only future because it was what her parents and grandparents did. This struck me. I was inspired to do something about it. This stimulated my entrepreneurial spirit to start Yatay non-profit, a musical nonprofit back in my high school in the American School of Lima. I merged my business, leadership, entrepreneurship and musical passions to start Yatay Peru. Later, I saw Juana again, now 14 years-old and she approached me: “Pedro, now that I can surf through the internet and encyclopedias, I have discovered my career path; I want to study civil engineering at the National University of Engineering in Lima, to design a modern bridge that will not only connect Pampas Grande with Pariaccoto (major town in the province) but will also enhance economic trade, positive externalities and human development.” As she finished talking, I was crying happiness. Filled with emotions, passion and joy, I realized social entrepreneurship was my career path.
Long story short, I was admitted to Berkeley and given a merit-based scholarship telling me to make Yatay GLOBAL. Similar to Yatay, I could foster social welfare via entrepreneurship, but create something HUGE with the resources of the Bay Area. I took the challenge and went for it! During the summer of my freshman year, I started SmileyGo, with a board of investors, board of advisors, board of mentors, board of directors and board of C-Level Executives.
What are your goals for SmileyGo?
My goals, in addition to SmileyGo’s, is to start a for-profit business that will be part of the SmileyGo Corporation; that will be the primal revenue stream for SmileyGo, since now we are depending on donations, bootstrapping and impact investments. More so, we want to generate a solid revenue stream–SmileyGo Alpaca Scarfs, by 2015 we will be importing handmade alpaca scarfs from Peruvian, Chilean, Argentinian and Bolivian women who are from the Andes. We will be empowering their micro-business by selling their product globally via the branches we have in 18 countries, and hence making these overlooked women the stars. Thanks to our genuine connections we have with the Peruvian NGO Pan Peru, we have direct access to their database, information and metrics in regards to the Alpaca Scarf. The Pan Peru NGO started the Alpaca Scarf production 2 years ago, and it has been a success. It’s now SmileyGo’s turn to globalize this micro-venture to a global venture thanks to our databases, platform and connections in Berkeley, the Bay Area and the country.
Moving on, SmileyGo will expand into a global Benefit Corporation by 2018 that will not only have the SmileyGo nonprofit, but also socially-responsible for-profit businesses such as a Peruvian Butifarra restaurant in downtown Berkeley. This will be a Peruvian express food station were it will only offer 4 practical sandwiches, served with Chicha Morada or Maracuyá juice. Parts of the profits will be directly donated to the SmileyGo nonprofit in order to better enhance our tech platform. In addition, this Peruvian Butifarra restaurant will also hire minority employees such as Latinos, African Americans and/or Native Americans, etc.
How do you plan to achieve those goals?
We plan to achieve these goals by continuing to be proactive, executing with faith, passion and discipline. By maintaining a trustworthy reputation, since relationships matter. We live by “making good at the right time, with the right people, in the right place.” The fact that we have genuine relationships with Haas Professors, Stanford Professors and Santa Clara Professors that positively refer us to impact investors, newspapers and businesses, is incredible and opens doors immediately. That’s why we have expanded globally in 12 weeks. We will continue embracing solid relationships with faculty, and mentors and advisors that connect us with more investors, professors and chief managers at organizations, schools and businesses.