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Program guides aspiring entrepreneurs

Published: Monday, February 21, 2011

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05

odyssey

Special to The Prospector

UTEP graduates have the opportunity to apply to The Odyssey Program, which is designed to teach women entrepreneurs to develop their own high-growth, scalable company.

"The program offers hands-on experience and close mentoring and consultations with experienced entrepreneurs, who have developed or launched their own companies in the past," said Eli Velasquez, executive director of Innovate El Paso, a non profit organization that coordinates and hosts the Odyssey Program.

Although the Odyssey program is open for both male and female participants, Velasquez said their curriculum is focused on teaching women how to develop their own scalable companies.

"Women are a largely underrepresented group of entrepreneurs in our community and our nation," Velasquez said. "The focus is to help develop that demographic of entrepreneurs and we believe the program will grow to teach aspiring women expand their companies."

The program runs for 35 weeks and is looking for 25 participants. Candidates must have a passion for entrepreneurship and live in El Paso or Las Cruces. They must have a college degree, have a few years of work experience, have served in an executive position or have started a company in the past.

UTEP is working closely with Innovate El Paso by recruiting participants, supporting the events and providing individuals to talk and explain to students the program's curriculum.

Laura Bosworth-Bucher, advisory board vice-chair of the College of Engineering, said this is an opportunity for people who are serious about pursuing their own business.

"Too many people think they just have to do it on their own and they won't go out and seek this out," Bosworth-Bucher said.

Velasquez said the major supporting partners include Texas State University, where the program originated. UTEP and EPCC have provided the venue for the event, while some of the other partners are the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, City of El Paso Economic Development Department, Arrowhead Center (NMSU), Paso del Norte Group and Mesilla Valley Economic Development Authority.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for women in this region, especially because not many women own their own business and I'm sure many are interested in the program," said Vero Dominguez, senior economics major.

The Odyssey Program is also focused on women who already own a business, but would like to expand their ideas and take it to a next level.

Tuition for the program is $2,500 with payment plans available. In order to apply, participants must submit a resume and a letter of intent explaining why do they want to be an entrepreneur to ideas@innovateelpaso.org.

"We are definitely open to considering any graduate students and see what kind of qualifications they have," Velasquez said.

For more information on the program, visit odysseyelpaso.com.

Beatriz A. Castañeda may be reached at prospector@utep.edu.

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